|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 three-to-four 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.”
Brown added that it is similar to being at school and that Stevens is like the professor.
Having been through multiple camps before and already having an established rapport across the league, the big thing for Al Horford was working on learning the plays and the system.
“It was a little different, just starting to get used to some of our concepts, getting familiar with the offensive system, but a lot of energy, a lot of positive energy,” Horford said. “Guys were ready to go from the beginning.”
OTHER PRACTICE NOTES
— Though playing non-contact, Kelly Olynyk, who is still nursing a shoulder injury, looked confident both shooting and playing around the rim. He had no issues finishing dunks with authority but also stepped back and drained multiple 3-pointers.
— Players and Stevens alike noted that the initial drills were to be done at roughly 40 percent, but everyone elected to go at a much higher intensity. Isaiah Thomas said that if that was 40 percent, he was interested to see what 100 percent would be like. Stevens jokingly brushed it off as a misjudgment of what was and was not 40 percent.
WALTHAM — Isaiah Thomas has been in the NBA long enough to know just how important health and conditioning is during the offseason. At Monday’s media day, he told reporters how the changes he’s made will make him a better player this year.
Entering his sixth season, Thomas sounded like a seasoned veteran in discussing the changes he’s made in his eating habits and sleeping pattern as he aims to extend his career to the age of 40.
“I changed my diet,” Thomas said. “I hired a personal chef back home, and I’m eating vegetables for the first time since when my dad used to make me. I eliminated fast food. You guys have heard it before — I want to play until I’m 40, and I know it starts with little things like that. Last week I got in contact with Dr. Z [Charles Czeisler] over there at Harvard, the ‘Sleep Doctor.’ I’m trying to learn how to sleep longer and sleep more. Not only am I going to eat healthier, I’m going to get a lot of sleep. Instead of watching TV and playing video games, I have to learn to get more sleep. That will help me be a better basketball player. Those are the little things I am trying to figure out. The older I get, the more I’m trying to figure those little things out to be a better basketball player. It’s not all on the court.”
Thomas also admitted that he’s still bitter over last year’s first-round playoff exit against the Hawks. He explained how he’s never given so much effort on the basketball court like he did in the playoffs, and that he’s using last season as motivation heading into the 2016-17 season.
“Whole offseason that’s all I thought about,” Thomas said. “Losing that series left a bad taste in all of our mouths. We want to get past that first round. I do, I know that. I want to go further. We have a good team, and people to make that happen. Last season hurt me especially because that’s the first time I can say I gave everything I had. I had no more left in me, and that’s why I hurt so much. Having everybody back for another year, we’re looking for bigger and better things. What that may be we don’t know, but hopefully we can jell faster than we did last year with the additions we have on this team.”
|Celtics Player Preview: Isaiah Thomas||09.24.16 at 2:16 pm ET|
With Celtics training camp set to begin on Sept. 26, WEEI.com presents a player-by-player breakdown of the roster. The Celtics have 20 players under contract but will have to cut the roster to 15 by the start of the season.
82 games with Celtics: 32.2 minutes, 22.2 points, 42.8% FG, 6.2 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals
The point guard certainly earned his first career All-Star appearance last season, and as a result had his name rightfully being tossed around with the top point guards in the league. He started all but three games and proved he could do it all on both ends of the floor. He could force turnovers on defense and be a stout defender. He could be a ball distributor or score off the dribble and drive. Whatever Brad Stevens asked of him, he answered the call, all the while always seeming to know his role in late, intense situations, whether it was making a key pass, taking the big shot or playing lockdown defense.
Projected role in 2016-17
Don’t expect anything to change for Thomas. He almost certainly will be the starting point guard and will have to do it all for Stevens, and he should be able to do just that. He’ll have to continue to be a defensive threat, but he’ll still need to serve as one of the best ball distributors in the league but be willing to shoot at the same time — something that shouldn’t be an issue for him.
|5 Celtics crack SI’s list of Top 100 NBA players||09.15.16 at 3:27 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated recently released its annual list of the Top 100 players in the NBA, and for the Celtics, it was merely affirmation of what they already believe: this team looks to be pretty good.
Five Celtics landed in the top 100, led by Al Horford at No. 18. Isaiah Thomas is 45, Jae Crowder 53, Avery Bradley 72 and Amir Johnson 86.
Horford was praised for his ability to fit into essentially any system and make himself a threat defensively regardless of who he’s up against. He can play in the low post, he can pick and roll, he can shoot if needed. Defensively, of course is his strength. Concern was mentioned about his rebounding troubles against top rebounders — something that has routinely plagued the Celtics — as well as his occasional interest to shoot a below-average 3-pointers.
In last year’s ranking, Thomas came in at 88, and he had something to say about it.
Sports illustrated Rankings are a JOKE lol. Feels like back in HS when those POLITICAL rankings would come out & we would just laugh it off
— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas) August 31, 2015
This year, SI gave him a little bit more respect, specifically with his reliability and durability. The article noted his ability to drive (he was second in the league in points off the drive last season) but also the fact that as a result of his interest in driving combined with a smaller stature, he is prone to getting his shot blocked.
The focal point of Crowder’s assessment was how unlikely it seemed that he would be as adored and successful in Boston as he is when he was part of the long-awaited trade of Rajon Rondo. On top of that, his ability to steal the ball (he ranked second in the league in steals) was looked favorably upon while his reticence to routinely pull the trigger from deep was criticized.
Bradley was lauded for his abilities as a two-way player, as he won accolades for defense while being a knockdown shooter periodically last season. However, the article was critical of his inability to run an offense for extended periods of time and his injury concerns.
For Johnson — arguably the biggest surprise to make the list — the focus was on what he brings to the table defensively. A case could be made he is one of the most integral parts of the Celtics defense, which is saying a lot given how solid the C’s defense is. His drawbacks included the fact that he is not exactly a threat offensively, getting most of his points from putbacks. Even still, his impact is massive given he is the first one to the bench in most games.
|Isaiah Thomas surprises Cambridge 14-year-old on ‘Good Morning America’||09.14.16 at 12:14 pm ET|
Isaiah Thomas surprised 14-year-old Robbie McNulty for the second straight week by inviting him to an upcoming Celtics game as the two appeared via video on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
After joining McNulty for a surprise shooting session at a Cambridge park last week, Thomas stunned the teenager again by inviting him to a game at TD Garden.
“Thanks for letting me shoot hoops with you the other day,” Thomas said in a video taped at the Celtics’ Waltham practice facility. “Keep working on that jumper. I know we talked about this upcoming season, and I’d like to invite you to one of my games as my guest. See you at the Garden.”
McNulty is a diehard Celtics fan and Thomas is his favorite player. After his first day at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, McNulty went to the basketball court by himself after none of his friends wanted to join him, but he wasn’t alone for long. Thomas saw McNulty playing alone and headed toward him.
“It was just so nice of him to come over and play with me,” McNulty said. “I bet he didn’t even think it would be that big of a deal to me, but for me, like, it’s crazy. He’s an NBA All-Star and he’s just looking at you and talking to you.”
|Current, former Celtics gather for Isaiah Thomas’ wedding||08.23.16 at 8:37 am ET|
Isaiah Thomas finally took some time for himself during his action-packed summer, marrying his longtime girlfriend Kayla Wallace in Seattle. The C’s All-Star point guard noted via Instagram it was “by far the best day of my life.”
|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|
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 Celtics.com 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.
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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