|Brad Stevens on Tom Thibodeau visit: ‘Really good to have him around’||03.10.16 at 4:02 pm ET|
WALTHAM – It was back to the future at Celtics practice on Thursday.
Tom Thibodeau, the man legendary in the Doc Rivers era for arriving at the Celtics practice facility at 4:30 a.m. with his staff, was back in the building Thursday. This time, he was much more relaxed up in the GM balcony taking in practice one day after watching Brad Stevens’ team take apart Memphis in the second half.
Stevens had the chance to chat up the former Bulls head coach after practice and ask his opinion of what he saw.
“We talked a couple weeks ago and then he said he was gonna be here a couple days,” Stevens said. “Obviously a door is always open to coaches from wherever. Certainly Tom brings a great deal of expertise and knowledge and things we can ask him in those two days watching our team. So it’s really good to have him around.”
Thibodeau is in town for the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference at MIT, an annual get-together of experts from around the country and the globe to discuss different ways of breaking down and analyzing sports performance.
“As I’ve told you before, there’s nothing more enjoyable to me than finishing practice and going and talking to the coaches that were there watching, or ask them what they thought, pick their brain on things or talk about drills and why we do them or don’t do them,” Stevens said. “It’s kind of the fun part about the relationships coaches have.
“He came here. We have kind of an off-site coaches deal, retreat, at the start of every year where we bring in people across sports and also education. He was here last year, so I’ve spent some time with him on multiple occasions.”
Celtics fans remember him as the defensive mastermind behind the 2008 world champions and the team that reached Game 7 against the Lakers in 2010.
|Kelly Olynyk on his injured right shoulder: ‘Same story, different day’||03.10.16 at 3:45 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The news doesn’t seem to be getting any more optimistic for Kelly Olynyk and his partially separated right shoulder.
Olynyk, who was termed a ‘50-50‘ proposition on Tuesday to play against Memphis, didn’t take part in any contact drills Thursday, in part because the team held a light workout and in part because he couldn’t handle it if they did.
“Same story, different day,” Olynyk said of the continuing stiffness in his shoulder that is allowing him to shoot but not much else. “It’s just that you do what you can do at the level you want to do it. It’s still a little bit restricting. Not where it needs to be in terms of basketball movements to the level where it’s comfortable.”
“Kelly went through practice,” Stevens said Thursday. “We didn’t go any contact, so it wasn’t like it was a big deal to judge from that, but I would say that he is still in the same boat as [Wednesday].”
Since the Feb. 10 injury against the Clippers, the Celtics have managed a 7-3 record without him.
“It’s definitely easier when they’re playing well and playing together,” Olynyk said. “It’s tough when they lose and you really want to be out there to make a difference.”
Olynyk said earlier in the week, when he was cleared to return to full practice, that he could shoot but couldn’t do much more. On Tuesday he took some contact in practice but Wednesday, he was not cleared for game action and was inactive. Olynyk said he doesn’t want to go on the court and not be able to do what the team needs from him.
“It’s not really one-dimensional. If you have no dimensions then you’re just filling space, really,” Olynyk added.
And his jump shot?
“That’s feeling alright. It’s when you try to lean on people, hold people off, get into different positions, rebound the basketball,” Olynyk said. “Your shot is straight forward, up and down, instead of across your body.
“It’s more just getting out there. [Bryan Doo] and the trainers have done it for a long time. B-Doo is working on strengthening, and the trainers are working on keeping everything loose.”
|Celtics rest Jared Sullinger at practice, don’t want him to ‘overdo it,’ expected to play Friday||03.10.16 at 3:16 pm ET|
WALTHAM – The Celtics are playing it safe with Jared Sullinger.
One day after returning to game action from a skin infection that forced him to miss Monday and Tuesday practices, Sullinger (with a wrap around his stomach) was again on the sidelines Thursday. Brad Stevens said that while Sullinger was able to play Wednesday (12 points, 5 rebounds in 21 minutes) against Memphis, the team felt it best that he take it easy on Thursday.
“We just held him out of practice because he spent a couple days getting IVs and dehydrated and everything else, just didn’t want to overdo it,” the Celtics coach said. “So, he’s expected to play [Friday].”
The Celtics could certainly use his bulk in the post Friday as Dwight Howard, James Harden and the Rockets come calling to TD Garden.
“I think obviously he’s a good player,” Stevens said of Sullinger. “He’s able to score. He’s able to stretch the floor and shoot the ball. He’s able to score in the paint. But I think obviously the way he’s aided us defensively, his communication is excellent and then his rebounding is elite. Everybody’s got their strengths they bring to the table to help their team win. I think when we’re at our very best he certainly is having a huge impact on the glass.”
Sullinger has also been a force with his passing game, as evidenced by his two key fourth-quarter outlet passes against the Knicks last Friday that keyed the comeback win.
“He can really pass,” Stevens said. “He’s a smart basketball player. He’s really a smart guy but he plays the game with a good savvy. He understand where people should be. He understands what the right next play is. He’s had a good year. He’s had a good year.”
“He’s always had that. He’s a strong guy so he can get it from one end of the court to the other. I know that. That’s why I take off running,” added Jae Crowder, who was on the receiving end of those passes last Friday.
“He’s more comfortable,” “He’s probably the most comfortable I’ve ever saw him. He’s playing at a great rate for us. He’s been rebounding the ball as well as he’s been doing all year. He’s shooting the ball. His outside shot has been coming around. Once we have him hit his shots, it spread our offense out even more and gives lanes to me and Isaiah to drive in the paint. It helps us on offense.”
Sullinger has missed just one game this season, starting 56 of the 64 games he’s played.
“I think all our guys want to play all 82 but it’s not feasible all the time,” Stevens said.
|Celtics preparing to take on ‘a stud’ in Tony Allen and his short-handed Grizzlies||03.08.16 at 8:50 pm ET|
WALTHAM – If ever a team needed a timely reminder that a wounded team is a dangerous team, the Celtics got one Monday night when they watched the short-handed Memphis Grizzlies take out the Eastern-leading Cavaliers in Cleveland.
The 38-25 Grizzlies, who currently stand in fifth place in the West and would face Doc Rivers’ LA Clippers in the opening round of the playoffs, took the court Monday night without the likes of Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Matt Barnes and Chris Anderson. All four of those players are regular starters in the lineup.
But it was Tony Allen, the fifth starter for Memphis who stepped in and stepped up his game. The 2004 first-round pick of the Celtics has become one of the most reliable players on the Grizzlies and a 34-year-old leader. Allen, along with Vince Carter and Lance Stephenson gave the Grizzlies enough Monday night to overcome LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
“You take any team for granted that has Tony Allen, Vince Carter, Chalmers, Zach Randolph, Matt Barnes down the line, you haven’t been watching basketball for a while,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after Tuesday’s final tune-up for Memphis Wednesday night at TD Garden. “We have to play well against these guys. They’re physical, long, big., They physically manhandled us the last game. They’re a team that’s won, regardless of who’s been on the floor, pretty much all year. It’s a credit top them. Dave’s done a great job with the team regardless of all the curveballs they’ve had to hit.
“You don’t respect the game you don’t win. We have to play well to win. We can’t be focused on all of the things we can’t control. We have to do it the right way, we have to share the ball, otherwise we’ll get beat. That’s the same across the league. Any time guys aren’t available, they’re usually being replaced by someone who is awfully hungry to play. That’s enough in this league with this level of talent.”
Certainly the Celtics respect Allen and the Grizzlies, who beat Boston, 101-98, at the FedEx Forum on Jan. 10. In that game, Allen had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds as Memphis overcame a 34-16 hole after the first quarter to come back and win.
When Allen was helping the 2008 Celtics win their 17th NBA title and the 2010 team reach Game 7 of the NBA finals, he was considered a defensive specialist and a role player off the bench behind Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. Allen said he felt somewhat “overshadowed” in Boston and signed a three-year, $9.7 million contract with Memphis.
|Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) ’50-50′ for Wednesday||03.08.16 at 4:58 pm ET|
WALTHAM – It’s wait-and-see time for Kelly Olynyk and the Celtics.
The 7-footer who’s been out since injuring his right shoulder in the second quarter of the Feb. 10 game against the Clippers went through practice Tuesday and was cleared for contact.
“Kelly did everything in practice, will probably do a little bit more with the young guys, we’ll reevaluate [Wednesday],” Brad Stevens said after practice Tuesday. “He’s day-to-day. I just asked him how he was doing and he said he was a little bit tentative. He didn’t play that way. He played five-on-five and did all of that stuff, and that was encouraging.
“I would say based on [practice], it would be 50-50, questionable, that he goes [Wednesday].”
Stevens said that if cleared, sitting out four weeks won’t affect Olynyk.
“Other than the shoulder, sure,” Stevens said. “He takes pretty good care of himself, takes care of his body, pretty diligent in that regard. Anytime you haven’t played in a few weeks that first wind might hit you. He shouldn’t have a problem.”
Olynyk admitted that he’s still sore after taking some contact in practice.
“It’s still not quite there, so we’ll see where it is. It’s all right. It’s still sore, a little discomfort, but it’s good to get back out there,” said Olynyk, who just shot around on Monday. “It’s still sore. There’s discomfort and pain, so obviously I’m a little tentative. I don’t feel like I’m at full strength or at full motion.
“The conditioning wasn’t bad. [Bryan Doo] kept me in pretty good shape. I’ve been riding the bike non-stop, treadmill stuff, swimming. I don’t think that’s too big of an issue. Obviously basketball is a different kind of conditioning and game conditioning is a little bit different, but you’ll get that back pretty quick.
“It’s good to feel what it can take and where it’s at. Hopefully keep improving. I don’t want any setbacks or anything like that. Keep going at the right level.”
|Marcus Smart gets message from Brad Stevens: ‘I take whatever [he] says to heart’||03.08.16 at 3:51 pm ET|
WALTHAM — In light of the latest Marcus Smart outburst that resulted in a $15,000 fine from the NBA, Brad Stevens had a heart-to-heart discussion with the 22-year-old passionate guard about controlling and harnessing his emotions during a game.
“I think that he can continue obviously to grow and get better,” Stevens said after practice Wednesday. “He’s only a young 22 years old. But I think the biggest thing is that he’s improved offensively with his reads, he’s improved offensively with his understanding of the NBA game. Obviously, defensively he came in ahead of the curve but he’s a guy that’s still 22, so he’s got a lot of room to get better.”
Stevens said he did address the crotch grab that the NBA defined as an obscene gesture with 1:49 left in the third quarter of last Friday’s win over the Knicks.
“I talked to him before practice. I did not see it live and still haven’t seen video of it at all, but I did talk to him about it,” Stevens said. “And you know you talk to him about obviously you’ve got to do a great job in those situations of controlling your emotions and representing yourself well. And he’s a young guys but he understands that and hopefully we’ll see that as we move forward.”
When Smart spoke Monday after practice, the league had yet to levy its fine. He insisted he didn’t need to change his intensity on the court. On Tuesday, he said he just wanted to accept the fine, accept the advice from Stevens and move past it.
“My reaction to it is it’s in the past,” Smart said. “It’s something I can’t control. The NBA felt that it was needed so I deal with the consequences and it’s onto the next game. This team is doing very well and that’s my main focus and we’re not going to let this bother us. It’s something that I can’t control, something that happened. They made a decision, respect it and you move on with it.
“Coach Stevens is an unbelievable coach and person. He’s always doing the right things and trying to make sure we’re in the right position to win games. Off the court, do things off the court the right way. Everybody on this coaching staff I listen to and I take whatever they say to heart and into consideration and try to apply it.”
Both Stevens and Smart said there is a fine line between intensity and lack of control on the court, something Smart is still mastering.
“I think there’s a fine line there. I think there’s a fine line. But it’s a line you can stay—you can play that way without crossing,” Stevens said. “He’s aware and when you’re away from those emotions not in the game setting or when you’re getting ready for a practice the next day or whatever the case may be, he’s a smart guy. He’s aware of that.”
“I think there’s a fine line that everybody has to [tread]. Growing up, everybody has been a competitor,” Smart said.”They’ve always been taught to compete and never give up, and to have that fight and determination in them. So, everybody has it and you’ve just got to know when to turn it off and turn it on.”
“I am still learning it. Working on it day and day, trying to get better at it, trying to take a little bit off practice here and not go so hard here. But definitely still learning to take that into consideration and take a little bit off of it.”
|Isaiah Thomas wants a meeting with Tom Brady: ‘I need to pick his brain’||03.08.16 at 3:13 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Those who aspire to greatness always want to learn from other great ones.
That’s why Isaiah Thomas took to Twitter on Tuesday in a very public attempt to get a sit-down with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
“I want to sit down and talk to Tom Brady… I need to pick his brain,” Thomas posted on Twitter Tuesday before practice.
A day after Peyton Manning’s retirement, was there something that spurred the request of the other legendary quarterback?
“Not really. Sometimes I’m thinking on my drive to the facility, and just thinking about that,” Thomas said after practice Tuesday. “I mean, I’m in his backyard. It would be nice if somebody could make that happen to formally meet him, and like I said, just picking his brain about the road to winning a championship, like what it takes and how to focus in on being great.”
What was fascinating about Thomas’ discussion was his comparison with another current NBA star who is headed out the door like Manning.
“It would just probably be like sitting down with Kobe,” Thomas said. “I got the chance to talk to Kobe. I’m real good friends with Floyd Mayweather so I get to pick guys’ like that’s brain. I just would like to sit down and actually meet him and also just pick his brain about winning championships, and how he goes about his day, how he prepares. I like his preparation to everything. I like to pick guys’ brains, especially the best in the business, best in their field, and see what he has to say to me. Hopefully I can make it happen.”
Thomas was reminded that he is from the West and a Broncos fan. Wouldn’t that get in the way?
“He shouldn’t be mad at that,” said Thomas, a native of Tacoma, Washington and a product of the University of Washington. “I didn’t grow up here. It’s not like I grew up here and I’m not a Patriots fan. But I’m a fan of his. I like how he carries himself. He carries himself like he’s the best quarterback ever.”
Like Brady, Thomas was somewhat overlooked when he played for the Huskies in the Pac-10, becoming the NBA equivalent to the NFL’s Mr. Irrelevant in 2010 when he was the last pick of the NBA draft by the Sacramento Kings.
“No doubt. He was definitely not – coming into the NFL he wasn’t supposed to be a Pro Bowler, wasn’t supposed to be a franchise player, wasn’t supposed to win Super Bowls and be arguably the best quarterback ever,” Thomas said of Brady. “And I want to be on that path. I’m not saying I’m going to be the best player ever but…”
As for taking a leadership role on the Celtics, like taking Marcus Smart aside on Saturday and settling him down, Thomas says he’s enjoying the responsibility.
“I just want to grow. I want to grow,” Thomas said. “Not just being a basketball player but being a leader in all aspects, all facets of the game. And why not learn from the best. Especially, I think it’s better to learn from different guys in different sports in how they lead and how they get respect from their teammates.
“Like I said, I would love to pick his brain, ask him a few questions. I got to do it with Kobe. I got to do it with Floyd Mayweather, always do it with him and things like that. Manning’s retired so I can’t do it with him. So I’d love to do it with Brady.”
I want to sit down and talk to Tom Brady… I need to pick his brain
— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas) March 8, 2016
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