|Defensive versatility is everything to Brad Stevens, and Terry Rozier ready ‘to take care of business’||10.26.16 at 11:54 am ET|
WALTHAM – How will the Celtics cope without Marcus Smart for the first two weeks of the season?
Ask Brad Stevens that question and he’ll give the same answer that he has for everything involving his defense-based system.
“I think we were third or fourth last year, so it was pretty good. The bottom line is we have to be more versatile defensively,” Stevens said Tuesday when Smart and the team announced that his left ankle would sideline him for at least two weeks.
“You have to be able to do more things. We have to be able to tweak on the fly, we have to be able to adjust if something is killing us and be able to play either big or small. I think it will be interesting to see what our best lineups are that separate themselves. But our idea is that we should have some versatility. But, again, I think defense is one of those things that you gotta go out there and do it. It’s not about talking about it. It’s not about the anticipation of how good we can be. That’s an everyday commitment and thus far we’ve done it at a pretty good level, but we’ll see.”
Smart’s injury also means significantly more opportunity for Terry Rozier to continue what he showed in Summer League and camp and preseason.
“He comes off the bench and he’s not playing, so it’s a bigger opportunity for me,” Rozier said of Smart. “It’s a step up, something where I have to be ready when my number is called. Be ready to take care of business. I want to come in and play my part, whether it’s scoring some nights, or just getting starts. The main thing is I want to play hard and do that every night.”
In Rozier’s mind, the best preparation for an increased role has been facing Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley every day in practice.
“I think IT said it best – when you play against those two every day in practice, when you get out there in a real game it’s looser,” Rozier said. “You’re not having guys all over you like it is in practice. That’s a big help, something you have to take advantage of when you get out on the court, because in practice you’re not getting that breathing room.
|Celtics pregame notes: No final decisions have been made on roster spots||10.17.16 at 6:18 pm ET|
Since the Celtics rounded out their roster in September — complete with 16 guaranteed contracts and only 15 roster spots — the speculation has been near-constant as to who will be in and who will be out.
But with just one more preseason game and the first game of the regular season just over a week away, no final decisions have been made on the roster.
“We haven’t talked about any of that stuff, so I’m sure I’ll sit down with Danny [Ainge] at some point, but obviously we have 16 [contracts] and you can only carry 15,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said prior to Monday’s preseason tilt against the Nets. “It’s the unfortunate part of the business, but we haven’t talked in great depth about that. But I’m sure we’ll hit that in the next couple of days.
“Obviously we have conversations all the time, but we have not gotten to the point where we’re talking finality on anybody in large part because everybody has played very well or shown great strides.”
One player that has shown promise is guard Demetrius Jackson. In four games this preseason, the rookie out of Notre Dame has shot 7-for-14 from the field, as well as 4-for-6 from 3-point range, averaging 5.3 points per game. He’s helped run the offense as well, as he’s grabbed eight assists in his cumulative 38 minutes.
“I think he’s done a good job. You know it’s hard to sit for three quarters and play in the fourth, but I thought the other night he came in, handled the ball, made the right plays,” said Stevens. “His burst is pretty special, and he can go from zero to 60 in a heartbeat. He’s making shot and he’s doing a pretty good job of running that group when he comes in. So I’ve been impressed with him thus far.”
|Celtics Practice Report: Amir Johnson looking to diversify his game||10.13.16 at 11:11 am ET|
Expect to see Amir Johnson changing things up this season.
When the Celtics went out and signed Al Horford, the laundry list of things he brought to the table were apparent, but one thing that flew under the radar was how he can help other players. And just over two weeks into camp, he’s already found a way to make fellow starter and big man Amir Johnson better.
“Chemistry is great, you know, it’s just me working around Al, Al working around me and we’re just putting it together,” the 29-year-old Johnson said.
The now-12-year pro noted that one dimension of his game that he is looking to improve is his 3-point shot. Last season, Johnson pulled from deep 43 times, executing on just 10 occasions for a 23.3 percent 3-point percentage, well below his career average of 31.5 percent from deep.
But with the addition of Horford, who can already do it all, it provides Johnson the flexibility to test his shot.
“Guys are starting to step out to that 3-pointer, and guys are definitely guarding outside the 3-point line, so it definitely changes in that aspect there,” Johnson said. “Every big man wants to step out and shoot the 3 and handle the ball, but now guys are working on it.”
With a player like Johnson implementing a 3-point shot more into his game, it can also have a less clear benefit. Regardless of if the shot gets knocked down, if Johnson is able to lure an equally-tall defender out to the perimeter, it gives a natural rim-protector like Horford a chance to isolate and grab the offensive board.
But whether Johnson is shooting or not, Horford’s versatility makes his life a lot easier.
“Al’s definitely one of those versatile bigs, able to pass the ball, step out and shoot the shot. For me it just kind of makes it easier just to work around him because you know he can the pass, you know he can make the shot,” Johnson said.
The synergy between the two is helping Johnson on the other end of the court as well.
|Brad Stevens compliments players’ anthem statement Tuesday as ‘incredibly thoughtful’||10.04.16 at 8:08 pm ET|
AMHERST – Brad Stevens likes a lot more about his players than just their basketball skills.
The Celtics coach made that clear before Tuesday’s preseason opener at the Mullins Center when he articulated the sensitivity of his players and how well they communicated their desire to make a public statement about unity.
That statement came in the form of a crossed-arms chain with each other during the national anthem before the game with the Sixers.
“We’ve had a lot of sit-down discussions about it,” Stevens said. “We’ve had a lot of individual discussions. We’ve had three or four meetings after practices, sometimes just players, sometimes just us, sometimes people we’ve invited in from the outside to spend time with our guys.
“Our guys have been incredibly thoughtful and I think, like from what I’ve seen across the NBA early on, I think our guys are really focused on promoting positive unity, togetherness, progress, and all those types of things. But those have been, as far as deep, certainly good discussions, they’ve been great. And I commend our guys for sharing and for thinking and for really looking at this in a really insightful way.”
Stevens says he’s constantly learning about his team and their individual personalities.
“I think one of the great things about being a part of a team is you all come from different backgrounds and you learn about each other and you all come together for the common cause, and that’s why we all love sports, right? We can all rally around that common cause and we can rally around teams,” Stevens added.
“But I think when you really get into deep, impactful stuff, those are special conversations and sometimes those are uncomfortable and sometimes there can be tension around those, but I think that’s the beautiful part about our group, is that they all appreciate one another, really support one another. And again, I think you’ll see, like I think they’re very much into what the teams that I’ve seen thus far, in talking about togetherness and continued progress.”
Shortly after the anthem, the team released a video statement from the players on why they decided it was appropriate to make a “Unity” statement before Tuesday’s game.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 4, 2016
AMHERST — Brad Stevens finally is getting the chance to see what his new-look team can do against an opponent.
Stevens knows full well that a preseason opener against the perpetually health-jinxed Sixers does not rise to the level of what his team will be in three weeks when they open the season against the Nets on Oct. 26. But still, Stevens put out a lineup that projects to opening night when Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Al Horford, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson took the floor.
“Just want everybody to play well when they have their opportunity in the game,” Stevens said of the first of seven preseason games. “I think there’s guys that we’ll limit minutes-wise but the bottom line is that will kinda be as we go in the game. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I want keep guys at. But whether they play first half or first stint of the third quarter, I’m still not completely decided on.
“So we’re one week in. I think the one thing about both those guys is they are both pretty versatile, they both pass the ball well. They both can roll or pop, they both can defend a couple of positions. But we’ll keep evaluating whether or not that’s our best group moving forward. And we’re still very much in the evaluation stage.
“You have to balance some of [lineups], but also I want these guys to get good stints. It’s not important that they play 30 minutes tonight. But it is important that the stints they play are hard and they get good conditioning out of it. Again, we’re a week in. We didn’t start thinking or talking about playing a game tonight until this morning. We still have a long way to go to get to where we want to be from a performance standpoint on both ends of the floor.”
Safe to say, the Celtics are playing more against against themselves than worrying about a Philly team that will be without No. 1 draft pick Ben Simmons indefinitely after surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his foot.
“Everybody practices hard, everybody plays hard, there’s seven exhibition and 82 regular-season games — it’s just an unfortunate of this, that there will be injuries,” Stevens said. “You always hope that they are not long term, you always hope that they’re not something that somebody can’t recover from quickly. And, at the same time, we have 20 people on our roster right now and we’ll play whoever is available.”
Jaylen Brown getting pre-game jumpers up before preseason opener vs Sixers pic.twitter.com/wYPQTs4bVr
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) October 4, 2016
|Practice report: Gerald Green points to return next week after nursing hip, intensity picks up||09.30.16 at 12:10 am ET|
WALTHAM – Gerald Green knows he’s no longer the 18-year-old the Celtics drafted 18th overall in the 2005 draft.
Now, the 30-year-old 6-foot-7 shooting forward comes to camp working harder to stay in shape and get ready for the season. In this process, Green suffered a minor setback.
While working out in two-a-days this week, Green strained his hip in practice.
“I don’t think I stretched properly,” Green said Thursday. “I’m not 25 no more, so just trying to come out there and go full speed, just one of those things I’ve got to learn now since I’m 30.”
The hip didn’t keep him from firing up jumpers at the end of practice and working up a sweat.
“Sometimes it’s hard to watch,” Green added. “I kind of like to work a little bit. I’m not pushing myself too hard, just enough to where I can get a nice little sweat.”
Coach Brad Stevens didn’t seem overly concerned about it after Thursday’s sessions.
“Gerald is still the only person that didn’t participate in any of the practice drills, but obviously he’s out here shooting and should be good to go by the start of next week,” Stevens said.
How exactly did it happen?
“I can’t really recall. I just did some research on it. A lot of times you strain a hip flexor it’s from not warming up properly,” Green added. “I think now since I’m 30 I’m at the age where I have to start stretching a lot more. It’s feeling better, having a second day off of practice and today, just doing a lot of treatment right after practice and coming back this evening and doing treatment, so kind of just almost like precautionary thing, making sure it doesn’t get worse.
|Celtics practice report: Jaylen Brown, Al Horford eased into new surroundings on first day||09.27.16 at 12:49 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics had about 90 minutes to get a feel for each other, with their first of two practice sessions Tuesday. There was little impact, and “a lot of five-on-zero” said head coach Brad Stevens in describing the morning’s events.
Jaylen Brown, who admitted he got little sleep Monday night due to excitement, showing up to the practice facility 3-4 hours early Tuesday, doled out pass from the elbow to the perimeter with precision and showed good finesse around the rim while partnering up well with Jonas Jerebko during pass-and-shoot drills.
“It was good, I’m just glad to be out here,” Brown said. “I’m learning a lot, a lot of different things today. It’s exciting, you know first day of practice it’s a new journey. I’m happy to be here and I’m having a good time.”
A frequent topic of conversation was the iPads the team hands out so players can take a look at plays. Each player is distributed one of the tablets, which are frequently updated with plays and schemes for them to study.
“Probably just as much time as I spend at the gym, probably twice as much,” Brown said when asked how much time he’ll spend going through the iPad. “Understanding the game and just trying to speed up that learning curve. Everybody plays the game differently so just trying to speed up my learning curve and learn as much as possible so I can be ready.
“I’m looking forward to the new challenge but I know it’s going to take time, but that’s a very important thing is speeding up my learning curve.”
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