An improbable Eastern Conference finals rematch with the Cleveland Cavaliers is in reach for the Boston Celtics.

The only thing delaying it is one more victory against a Philadelphia 76ers team intent on not becoming the latest to join a dubious NBA club.

Toronto was swept by Cleveland on Monday to become the 130th consecutive team in NBA history to fail to overcome a 3-0 deficit. Philadelphia is one loss away from becoming No. 131.

Philadelphia-born rapper Meek Mill http://www.seahawksauthorizedshops.c...m-green-jersey , who has been courtside for several Sixers games this series following his release from prison last month, is one of many hometown fans still hoping they can pull off the comeback.

”I represent the underdog season,” Mill told The Associated Press on Tuesday. ”We’re the underdogs right now. We’re in a (bad) position at 3-1, but I definitely believe we can make a comeback.”

Philadelphia used its toughness, a little trash talk and 19 big points from T.J. McConnell in its 103-92 victory in Game 4 Monday to finally produce a glint of the basketball it displayed in easing past Miami in the first round.

Harnessing that energy will be paramount in Boston for Game 5 on Wednesday. The Celtics have yet to lose a game at home this postseason (6-0).

”Obviously, after 3-0, we (found) a way how to beat them Kendall Wright Color Rush Jersey ,” McConnell said. ”We took the taste of how it feels on the court after losing. From 3-0, now it’s 3-1 We need to play play-by-play.”

Game 4 certainly felt the most like a throwback to the Celtics-76ers battles in the 1980s thanks to an increased level of chirpiness between players that produced some face-to-face moments and multiple technical fouls.

Boston’s Al Horford, who has scored in double figures in each of the Celtics 11 games this postseason (with five double-doubles), said more aggression is expected from a team in the Sixers’ predicament.

”We have to protect our home,” Horford said. ”We were able to steal one (in Game 3). They protected their home court (Monday). We have to go home and protect ours.”

A closer look at Wednesday’s Game 5:

CELTICS AT 76ERS

Celtics lead 3-1. Game 5, 8 p.m. EDT, TNT.

NEED TO KNOW: The Celtics are on the verge of a rematch with the Cavaliers in the conference finals. They struggled to match the 76ers physicality in Game 4 but return to the friendly confines of TD Garden with another chance to close out the series. Boston is unbeaten at home during these playoffs. In their two home victories over the Sixers Billy Price Color Rush Jersey , the Celtics have averaged 47 percent shooting from the field and hit 32 3-pointers.

KEEP AN EYE ON: McConnell. He gained a lot of confidence after being inserted into the starting lineup for Game 4. It will force the Celtics to account for him more, which could open the floor for his teammates.

INJURY UPDATE: Celtics coach Brad Stevens didn’t have a status update on reserve guard Shane Larkin (left shoulder) on Tuesday. If it’s out Wednesday night, Boston would be down to an eight-man rotation.

PRESSURE IS ON: The Sixers obviously must win to keep their season alive. But Boston also wants to wrap this series up as soon as possible. The Cavaliers’ sweep of the Raptors means the Eastern Conference finals could start as early as Sunday. The ability to rest is key for the Celtics.



AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston in Philadelphia contributed to this report.



Just as the Golden State Warriors had hoped, Stephen Curry is poised to return from a left knee injury to play in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals Tuesday night against New Orleans.

Coach Steve Kerr listed the two-time MVP as probable Monday with the idea that he’s a go to play as long as no issues arise with Curry’s sprained left knee in the morning shootaround or before the game. Kerr didn’t say whether Curry would start or come off the bench but he won’t have a minutes restriction.

”He’ll want to get his legs underneath him,” Kerr said after practice. ”So we’ll try to find that balance between being cautious and letting him go a little bit.”

Golden State leads the best-of-seven series 1-0 after a 123-101 rout in the opener Saturday.

Curry has a history of returning to the court from injury and finding his groove immediately.

”I expect him to be who he is,” Kevin Durant said Monday. ”I’m not saying it’s guaranteed to happen. But he puts in the work and prepares himself right when he’s put in that position, so when he comes out and he plays well it’s not a surprise to me at all.”

Curry participated in his first full-contact practice in more than a month last Thursday and then scrimmaged Friday 5-on-5. On Sunday http://www.bengalsauthorizedshops.co...hubbard-jersey , Curry scrimmaged with some of the reserves before the Warriors brass and medical staff determined he is ready for game action again.

”Right from that window up there I had one eye on the game tape and one eye on Steph. I had a good vantage point,” Kerr said. ”He came out of it good. I talked to him afterward and he came out well. Feeling good today, went through the whole practice, so I’d be very surprised if he didn’t play. But just for caution issue, we’ll wait `til tomorrow to see how he’s feeling.”

Curry was injured March 23 in the same game where he had come back from a six-game absence with a right ankle injury.

”He needs rhythm,” Kerr said. ”The only factor in terms of allowing him to play is health, and he’s ready to go. He’s been cleared. Now it’s a question of rhythm and how much time we give him Mike Marjama Seattle Mariners Jersey , and that’s important. He needs to get his groove back.”

Curry also missed 11 games in December with a sprained right ankle.

He played in only 51 of 82 regular-season games for the defending champions.

”It’s been interesting. Obviously when I’m out there I’ve been playing well, playing at a very high level, we’ve been winning” Curry said. ”You have some kind of unfortunate situations, landing on somebody’s foot, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, whatever the case is, missing games. The back of my mind I know I’m still durable Bradley Zimmer Cleveland Indians Jersey , I’m still a player that’s expected to be out there every single night helping my team win. And that confidence in myself has never wavered.”



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