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It already looks like make-or-break time for Celtics guards Terry Rozier, James Young 09.29.16 at 8:59 pm ET
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Celtics guard Terry Rozier hopes to take a step forward this year. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Celtics guard Terry Rozier hopes to take a step forward this year. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Terry Rozier didn’t explode into the NBA. After a lackluster rookie season, he opened some eyes in the playoffs, but he still comes to camp without the guarantee of a roster spot.

Five practice sessions into 2016, however, the improvement in the former first-round pick’s game is palpable — and it’s not going unnoticed.

“You can see Terry’s a different guy year two than he was in the first couple of days of year one, he just stands out right now,” head coach Brad Stevens said. “And I think that’s probably pretty typical because of the comfort level of going through camp again, for the first time versus again.”

Part of the growth process for Rozier has simply been experience. He’s no longer a rookie, and he’s clearly more comfortable. The challenge will be improving his ball-handling and decision-making.

“Things move really fast for everybody, and when you’re the guy with the ball, it moves even faster because you’ve got to be able to not only gauge what you need to be doing, but you’ve got to make sure everybody else is there,” Steven said. “And he’s got the ball a lot, I think he’s doing really good job of attacking and picking the spots he should attack, we can all get better at that.”

Isaiah Thomas also noted Rozier’s massive improvement, which he attributes to hard work.

“The biggest thing I’ve always said about Terry is he’s going to improve, because the guy works,” Thomas said. “From the minute we met him in the draft process, it was like this guy — there are work ethics and there are real work ethics and he’s got a real work ethic — and so I think he’ll do well.”

There’s no argument that the 22-year-old Rozier has skill. He’s torn up the D-League and summer league. He’s less of a sure thing in the NBA.

The same goes for James Young. Entering his third season at age 21, Young has yet to earn more than occasional garbage minutes. And given the team’s need for a pure shooter, Young could have filled that void some time ago.

But the reality is he’s competing for a roster spot.

“He’s improved a lot, and you can see the way he’s playing here, he’s really stepping up and we like that and that’s good for him,” Marcus Smart said. “He’s just more aggressive. The first couple of years he was a little timid, a little shy, but now he’s definitely been more aggressive, attacking the paint and playing great defense.”

Added Thomas, “He’s played well, he’s playing with confidence. I think that’s the biggest thing from previous years that I’ve been here, he’s playing like he’s confident, like he knows what he’s doing and he’s very aggressive. And he needs to be like that, for him to be successful he has to be like that.”

Read More: Celtics, James Young, Terry Rozier,
Kevin Garnett announces retirement via Instagram, ending storied 21-year career that included title with Celtics 09.23.16 at 7:52 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett

After 21 years, Kevin Garnett’s NBA career is over.

The 40-year-old announced his retirement via an Instagram video on Friday, hours after accepting a buyout from the Timberwolves, which was first reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Had Garnett returned this season, he would’ve become the only player in league history to play 22 seasons.

Garnett’s career ends after a second stint with the T-Wolves, who drafted him fifth overall out of high school in 1995. He spent 12 years in Minnesota before being traded to the Celtics in July of 2007 as part of the C’s formation of the Big Three with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

He won the only championship of his career with the C’s in 2008, memorably screaming, “Anything’s possible!” in the moments after the win.

His career took a disappointing turn, however, when he was dealt to the Nets with Pierce prior to the 2013 season. He spent 1 1/2 seasons with Brooklyn before waiving his no-trade clause and heading back to Minnesota.

The 15-time All-Star left quite an impression with the Celtics, earning All-Star honors all but one season in Boston while averaging 15.7 points and 8.3 rebounds with a stellar 52 percent mark from the field in his 396 games over six seasons.

Read More: Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Garnett retirement,
Celtics reportedly renounce rights on 2013 2nd-round pick Colton Iverson 08.26.16 at 9:41 pm ET
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The tumultuous Colton Iverson era appears it will end before even seeing him in green.

Per The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, the Celtics elected to renounce the rights of the 2013 second round pick and “give him a shot to make a roster elsewhere.”

Taken 53rd overall out of Colorado State by the Pacers and promptly traded to the Celtics, Iverson prolonged the NBA limbo he sat in since being drafted by remaining stiff in contract negations. Each year, he declined a contract with the Celtics that would enable him to be brought to camp to instead play overseas.

In fairness, the likelihood was high the now 27-year-old 7-footer would not make the Celtics roster, subsequently being waived and thus relinquishing the Celtics draft rights on him and placing Iverson in free agency.

However, the move for the Celtics to let him go now was a process that could’ve been circumvented many years ago. Speculation has been prevalent the past three offseasons if he would take a run at the NBA, and if he does (even with age now becoming a factor and his opportunity slipping by the day) it doesn’t appear it will be with the Celtics.

Read More: Celtics, Colten Iverson,
Report: Paul Pierce ‘leaning heavily’ toward return to Clippers 08.17.16 at 10:34 am ET
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Don’t grab those old Paul Pierce Celtics jerseys out of the cellar. It doesn’t look like a Boston return is going to happen.

Though never really rumored that a Pierce return was imminent — or even a likely, for that matter — there was some hope among C’s supporters that maybe, just maybe, the Truth would return for one final ride in green.

That does not look likely, per a tweet Tuesday night from Los Angeles Times basketball writer Brad Turner.

The 38-year-old certainly is not the same player who helped bring the Celtics Banner 17 in 2008. In his first season with the Clippers in 2015-16, Pierce averaged just 6.1 points in 18.1 minutes, shooting a horrid 36.3 percent from the field compared to a 44.7 marker his previous 17 seasons.

A return to the Clippers would mark the first time Pierce has stayed with a team for consecutive season since he played for the Celtics. After getting dealt to the Nets in the monumental trade that led to the Celtics drafting Jaylen Brown, Pierce played one year in Brooklyn then one year with the Wizards before landing with the Clippers.

Read More: Celtics, Clippers, Jaylen Brown, Paul Pierce
What to know about 2016-17 Celtics schedule 08.15.16 at 10:07 am ET
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Some experts say the Celtics have the easiest schedule in the NBA. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Some experts say the Celtics have the easiest schedule in the NBA. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

With the release of the 2016-17 NBA schedule, the start of what has on paper begun to shape up as one of the most interesting season’s in recent Celtics memory is inching closer and closer.

So what challenges stand in front of the Celtics?

According to ESPN’s Chris Forsberg and a group of other insiders, the Celtics actually have the easiest schedule in the league. Let’s take a look:

Five notable games

Nov. 3 at Cavaliers

What a way to really get the season going. The Celtics’ fifth game of the year will be against the team that is one of the top contenders to stand in their way in the East. Though you’re hard-pressed to say a game at the beginning of November will have a long-term impact of the makeup of the season, this game will be a good jumping off point for the Celtics to see how they stack up against a top team when (most likely) both sides are healthy. What’s more, it will be the second game of a back-to-back, with the C’s squaring off against the Bulls the night before.

Nov. 18 vs. Warriors

A game that needs no explanation, the Celtics’ home matchup against the most highly-touted side going into this season comes a few weeks in. At that point, team identities will have been formed and an indication as to where teams are headed in their seasons should start becoming clear. Oh, and Kevin Durant too. That will be an interesting reception for the prized free agent who snubbed Boston this offseason.

Nov. 25 vs. Spurs

Another measuring stick to how the Celtics compare to top talent, it will also be the first time they see the Spurs without the incessant reminder that they didn’t get Tim Duncan in the 1997 draft.

Jan. 13 at Hawks

The Celtics don’t see the team that bounced them in the first round of the 2016 postseason until mid-January, and it will be on the road as well. For redemption sake, it will be a good matchup to see how they stack up against the new-look Hawks eight months later, but it will also be compelling to see how Al Horford squares off against his former team.

April 5 vs. Cavaliers

The Celtics in a sense bookend their season with the Cavs, and if the season goes in the direction everyone imagines it will, this will be a gargantuan game in terms of postseason preparation. It will be at home with just four more games following and will likely have postseason seeding implications as well.

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Read More: Al Horford, Celtics, Eastern Conference,
Isaiah Thomas wants to prove he’s ‘just as good as any other point guard in the NBA’ 08.11.16 at 11:27 am ET
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Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas has had a busy summer. From recruiting Kevin Durant, to jet-setting to China to handing out ice cream at Faneuil Hall, the Celtics point guard has hardly been off this offseason.

In an interview with on Wednesday, Thomas talked about his trip to China, the team’s No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown, and what else he’s been doing this offseason when not recruiting, flying or giving away ice cream.

For the full interview, click here.

The 27-year-old went to Beijing as part of NBA Cares, an initiative to help continue to grow the game. He was joined by Karl-Anthony Townes of the Timberwolves as well as Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell of the Lakers. While there, they hosted clinics, meet-and-greets and NBA Finals viewing parties.

“It was a blessing to be able to be considered to go. Once they asked me to go I definitely wanted to see Beijing and what it was like,” Thomas said. “I’ve been to China before but it was definitely a smaller, but it was a good experience. I was hoping to meet Yao Ming but I didn’t get to, but it was nice to be in China and experience their culture a little bit.”

In his All-Star 2015-16 season in which he played in all 82 games (while starting 79), Thomas admittedly was a little banged up when the season concluded with their first round departure at the hands of the Hawks. As a result, he cited that he gave himself a little bit of time away from basketball at the start of the offseason.

“The first four to six weeks of offseason I didn’t play basketball, my body was hurting,” he said. “I needed some injuries to heal in my body so I really relaxed, spent time with my family, my kids and watched the playoffs so that was my biggest thing. Now I’m back working out, I’m healthy and I’m trying to just continue to get better each and every day so I can get ready for the season.”

Added Thomas on how the team plans to get better: “Work. Continue to work, continue to get better. Don’t be satisfied with what we did cause honestly we felt like we came up short, we felt like — give credit to Atlanta — but we felt like we could’ve beat them.”

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Read More: Al Horford, Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown
Celtics reportedly to play Knicks in New York on Christmas Day at 10:21 am ET
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Even with temperatures in the 90s in the dead of August, it’s not to early to start thinking about Christmas, and it appears the Celtics will be decking the halls of Madison Square Garden on December 25.

According to a report from The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, the Celtics and Knicks will be one of five games to be played on Christmas, with the Warriors and and Cavs set to tangle in a NBA Finals rematch, per ESPN’s Marc Stein.

The Celtics haven’t played on Christmas Day since 2012, when they ran through Brooklyn on the road 93-76. For reference, Rajon Rando was the leading scorer with 19 points, Kevin Garnett grabbed 10 boards and Paul Pierce had 10 assists. The Celtics still have had less than favorable results on the holiday posting an overall record of 12-17 on Christmas.

The Celtics/Knicks matchup will feature some new faces tossed into the Boston/New York rivalry with Celtics’ addition of Al Horford and the Knicks’ addition of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.

The league generally schedules the games based on how a team stands in terms of their marketability, so don’t be surprised to see the Heat, Lakers, Clippers or Bulls (all of whom played on Christmas last season) potentially get thrown into the mix this year.

Read More: Al Horford, Celtics, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah
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