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Back to work: Celtics, Heat start getting ready for Game 4

Mon Sep 21 4:42pm ET
By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer


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Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra gestures as he watches play against the Boston Celtics during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, center left, draws up a play during a time out late in the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game against the Boston Celtics on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart (36) gestures to teammates late in the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game against the Miami Heat on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) competes for a rebound against Miami Heat's Jae Crowder, left, and Bam Adebayo, right, during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) Getting angry worked wonders for the Boston Celtics.

Their first win in these Eastern Conference finals just happened to come two nights after Marcus Smart sparked a loud and emotional series of shouting matches inside the Celtics' locker room, all of that starting only a few seconds after the Miami Heat won to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

That lead is down to 2-1 now, the Celtics playing brilliantly in Game 3 and leading wire-to-wire to take a bunch of newfound momentum into Game 4 of the series on Wednesday night.

''I've always been saying that before you see the rainbow, it has to storm,'' Smart said Monday, speaking about the post-Game 2 dustup for the first time publicly. ''For us, that was a storm that we had to go through. We found our happy place.''

It's now Miami's turn to find a happy place - though an unhappy place would seem more appropriate. The Heat never led in Game 3, got themselves into a double-digit hole for the third consecutive game in this series and fourth straight overall, and because of a scheduling quirk now get to sit around and stew for three full off days before getting a chance to atone for what went wrong Saturday.

''Look, there's two teams competing against each other,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ''So as much as you want to say, `Hey, it's just about us and we just have to do X, Y and Z,' the Boston Celtics have something to say about that. Likewise, when they're doing whatever they're trying to do, we have something to say about that.''

The Celtics' anger was no secret and was displayed at least somewhat publicly; reporters near their locker room heard the commotion after Game 2, with Smart being the one who lit the fuse.

''He's the guy that keeps us going and keeps us inspired, keeps us being competitive,'' Boston's Grant Williams said. ''... You just have to follow his lead and trust that we have a lot of guys on this team that can do a lot of great things. He's just going to compete his butt off and we follow that standard.''

The Heat didn't have a visible - or audible - blowup after Game 3, took Sunday off to rest physically and mentally, then got back to work Monday with a film session, on-court work and then more meetings set for the evening.

''Our spirit is right, our head is right, our energy is there, so I think we're responding the right way,'' Miami wing Jae Crowder said. ''We're just trying to get better and trying to see how we can play a complete game, play a complete 48-minute game and be as sharp as we can be on both ends of the court. With that being said, I think we took the loss, we took the adversity in a good way. And we're still taking it in.''

Some of the numbers posted so far in the East finals are more than a little overwhelming.

They're also simultaneously puzzling, at least from the Celtics' perspective.

There have been 17 instances of someone scoring to give his team a double-digit lead at some point in the first three games of the series; all 17 of those have been done by the Celtics. The Celtics have yet to trail by more than eight, have led by as much as 20 and have been in front for 75% of the first 149 minutes played in this matchup.

But it's Miami still leading the series, which is why the Celtics are seeking to show up for Game 4 with the same aggression that carried them in Game 3.

''I think each game is its own entity, so it is what it is. We're all on the same schedule,'' Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. ''We know we're going to have to play the best game that we've played in Game 4 of this series to have a chance to win. That's just the way series work. That's the way the playoffs work. You have to get better every game.''

Player Notes
Andre Drummond Oct 25 12:10pm ET

Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond doesn't sound like he'll be signing a long term deal with the organization anytime soon. There was reportedly mutual interest in June, but it seems that the two sides aren't close anymore. There is a good chance Drummond plays out his final year in Cleveland and hits free agency in 2021. His market value hasn't been great, but he'll have extra motivation this season. Tristan Thompson is expected to sign elsewhere, so Drummond's value could be on the rise.

Daniel Theis Oct 25 12:00pm ET

Boston Celtics center Daniel Theis (knee) underwent an arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies in his left knee. The team has not released an official timetable for Theis, but it was a fairly minor procedure. He is fully expected to be ready in time for training camp. Last season, Theis had some low-end value, but he probably won't be a favorable target on draft day in most formats. It really depends on how the Celtics decide to use Robert Williams going forward.

John Collins Oct 25 12:00pm ET

Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins mentioned that he is shifting his focus to improving his playmaking ability this offseason. "The next level is to start getting others involved and create more shots for myself or have the ability to do different things," Collins said. Last season, Collins increased both his block rate and his percentage from beyond the arc. Collins could end up being the whole package if he's able to improve his playmaking ability. He could be quickly climbing up draft boards.

Goran Dragic Oct 11 7:00pm ET

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) was doubtful for Sunday's NBA Finals Game 6 against the Lakers, but intends to play and is listed as active. Playing with a plantar fascia tear seems like a bad idea, but Dragic reportedly has been told he won't reinjure himself by playing. Dragic won't be near 100 percent and will likely be on a minutes limit, so you shouldn't give him heavy consideration for your DFS lineups. Kendrick Nunn will likely see fewer minutes with Dragic playing, though there's also the possibility that Dragic tries to play and the pain is too much. It's a complicated situation in a must-win Game 6.

Goran Dragic Oct 11 12:30pm ET

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) is listed as doubtful for Sunday's Game 6 against the Los Angeles Lakers. Dragic has been listed as doubtful each game since suffering the injury in Game 1. It sounds like Dragic will test out his foot pregame, but it's highly unlikely that he suits up here. Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn will gain the most fantasy value from the absence of Dragic. Herro is the better option between the two.

Anthony Davis Oct 11 12:30pm ET

Los Angeles Lakers center Anthony Davis (heel) is listed as probable for Sunday's Game 6 contest against the Miami Heat. However, Davis mentioned on Saturday that he'd be fine for Sunday's contest. He is fully expected to play through the issue and should see his normal workload. LeBron James (groin) and Danny Green (finger) are listed as probable as well, but are expected to take the court on Sunday. The Lakers are a little banged up, but will play through the pain.

Danny Green Oct 11 12:20pm ET

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (groin) and guard Danny Green (finger) are listed as probable for Sunday's Game 6 against the Miami Heat. Both players have been listed as probable throughout the series, but continue to play. Green was limited earlier in the series, but played 24 minutes during Game 5. James and Green are expected to see a full workload here.

Kevon Looney Oct 6 9:10pm ET

Golden State Warriors center Kevon Looney is expected to have a bigger role on the team next season. Head coach Steve Kerr mentioned that Looney is looking at 20-25 minutes per game for the 2020-2021 campaign. That is a fairly significant increase, but won't make a huge impact on his fantasy value. Looney has been unable to stay healthy and isn't a great option in Golden State. He could have deep league value, but probably not worth a look in 12-team leagues on draft day.

Lauri Markkanen Oct 6 9:00pm ET

Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen is hopeful that he can prove the doubters wrong next season. "My expectations are even higher than ever now, just going back to my fourth year and performing at a high level," said Markkanen. Former head coach Jim Boylen failed to get much out of his young core during his time in Chicago. It sounds like Markkanen is already hitting it off with new head coach Billy Donovan. Markkanen has plenty of talent and should have a significant role on the team going forward. Fantasy owners could look at Markkanen as a sleeper player for next season.

Aron Baynes Oct 6 8:50pm ET

Phoenix Suns center Aron Baynes could be headed elsewhere this offseason. The veteran was non-committal when asked about his future with the team. I loved my time in Phoenix, Baynes said. I knew what it was coming in here and I was able to go out there and take advantage of the role that was given to me throughout a number of different situations." Baynes will hit free agency after posting career highs in multiple categories. He could very well land a significant role on another organization. His fantasy value will be dependent on where he signs in free agency.

Goran Dragic Oct 6 8:40pm ET

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) won't suit up for Tuesday's Game 4 matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers. He tried to get up some shots pregame, but it was too painful. It doesn't look good for Dragic's chances of playing in this series, but consider him questionable for Game 5. Tyler Herro is expected to join the starting five, while Kendrick Nunn gets more minutes as well. Herro is the better fantasy option between the two.

Bam Adebayo Oct 6 8:40pm ET

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (neck) is officially back in the starting five for Tuesday's Game 4 matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers. He has been sidelined since Game 1, so this is a big lift for Miami. It's unclear whether or not Adebayo will be limited, which makes him a risky DFS option. Kelly Olynyk will see his minutes and playing time decrease here. Meyers Leonard might fall out of the rotation completely.

Bam Adebayo Oct 6 5:40pm ET

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (neck) is planning to make his return for Game 4 of the 2020 NBA Finals against the Lakers on Tuesday night, according to sources. Adebayo missed the previous two games of the series due to a neck strain that he suffered in Game 1, forcing the 23-year-old to exit during the second half of the contest. Adebayo's potential return to the lineup will be encouraging news for the Heat, who may be forced to play without guard Goran Dragic (foot) for the remainder of the series as he is without a timetable for a potential return. Adebayo will serve as a solid DFS option for Tuesday's game if he ends up making his return.

Danny Green Oct 3 8:10pm ET

Los Angeles Lakers guard Danny Green (hip) was limited during the Game 2 victory over the Miami Heat. He took a hard fall during the second quarter and appeared to have injured his hip. J.R. Smith saw a few minutes after Green checked out, but it doesn't sound like Green will miss time. However, Green was awful during Game 2, so fantasy owners should not expect a bounce back performance out of him.

Bam Adebayo Oct 3 8:10pm ET

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (neck) is listed as doubtful for Sunday's Game 3 against the Los Angeles Lakers. He was unable to play in Game 2 due to a neck sprain. Meyers Leonard drew the start, but only played nine minutes. Kelly Olynyk ended up benefiting the most by dropping 24 points in 37 minutes of play. He's looking like a solid DFS option, assuming Adebayo is sidelined again.

Goran Dragic Oct 3 8:10pm ET

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) is listed as doubtful for Sunday's Game 3 against the Los Angeles Lakers. He suffered a left plantar fascia tear and the Heat are not optimistic that Dragic will be able to suit up. Tyler Herro should remain in the starting five, while Kendrick Nunn will see more minutes coming his way. Both players could be interesting DFS options without Dragic on the court.

Jimmy Butler Oct 2 6:30pm ET

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (ankle) will suit up for Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. He sprained his left ankle during the first half of Game 1 on Wednesday. It was going to take a lot to keep Butler off the court for this game. Sadly, they will be without Goran Dragic (foot) and Bam Adebayo (neck) on Friday. Butler is going to be asked to do just about everything on offense for Miami.

Bam Adebayo Oct 2 6:30pm ET

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (neck) has been ruled out for Friday's Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers. This is a huge blow to the Heat who are already without Goran Dragic (foot) for this game. Kelly Olynyk, Derrick Jones, and Meyers Leonard are expected to see more playing time on Friday. Jae Crowder could see more action as well, but it'll be hard to fill the void left by Adebayo. None of these players are great DFS options. Jimmy Butler is going to be asked to carry the load on offense.

Goran Dragic Oct 2 6:20pm ET

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) has been ruled out for Friday's Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers. He is still dealing with a foot issue that he suffered during the first game of the series. Kendrick Nunn is expected to join the starting five, while Tyler Herro gets more minutes as well. Both sound like appealing DFS options with the Heat roster banged up.

Goran Dragic Oct 1 12:10pm ET

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) could be in danger of missing Game 2 versus the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. The veteran guard suffered a torn plantar fascia during the first half of Wednesday's contest. The team is going to continue to evaluate Dragic before deciding what to do. It sounds like his status for Friday's game is doubtful, but we'll wait and see. Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn would see a boost in fantasy value, assuming Dragic is out.