Christmas returns home for first time as NBA player

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Christmas returns home for first time as NBA player

PHILADELPHIA Dionte Christmas has been looking forward to this night for quite a while.

The Philadelphia native was back home, playing before family and friends as an NBA player.

An NBA player.

There were so many nights, too many to count, when that dream seemed so far away, so distant to him.

So for Christmas, the Boston Celtics' 107-75 drubbing at the hands of Philadelphia, was indeed a bittersweet moment for him.

He will certainly take away the humbling effect that comes when you get crushed, preseason or not. But he's also mindful that on a personal level, the game offered family and friends a chance to see him play.

Having spent his post-college career playing overseas, Christmas was clearly touched by the fact that his parents - James and Jackie Christmas - would be in attendance as well as his grandmother, Rena Christmas.

"They haven't seen me play live, in person, in like three years," Christmas told CSNNE.com. "So I know for them, for me, this game is pretty special."

Christmas, who starred at nearby Temple University and finished his career among the school's all-time leading scorers, got a surprise tap on the shoulder from Doc Rivers in the second quarter - the earliest action he has seen during the preseason.

Prior to the game, C's coach Doc Rivers said he would limit the minutes of Paul Pierce. That meant players fighting for one of the remaining roster spots, players like Christmas, were sure to see more playing time.

And Christmas was eager to get on the floor, especially after a watching film following Boston's overtime loss to the New York Knicks in Hartford, Conn.

It was a game in which, after reviewing the film as a team on Monday, Christmas realized he stood out for all the wrong reasons.

"Coach (Rivers) was on me (Monday) in film," Christmas said. "That kind of surprised me. He didn't single me out, but he said a lot to me in film."

Rivers' issues with Christmas weren't all that different than what has been an issue with the entire Celtics team - their pick and roll defense.

Specifically, the guards who are to help down on pick-and-roll plays, weren't getting there quick enough - Christmas included.

"I do have to get there, rotate quicker," Christmas said. "It's not what you want to hear, but it is what you need in order to get better. That's why I don't take that to heart. I look at that as a positive. I'm trying to get better, and I'm going to go back and watch more film to better myself."

And in doing so, his next trip back home will be one in which his status will be the same as it was on Monday night.

An NBA player.

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics are about to hit one of the toughest stretches of the season and they’ll have to do it for at least one more game without their leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas. 
 
Thomas, who suffered a right groin injury on Monday against the Houston Rockets, did not play on Wednesday against Orlando and said that he will not play in Friday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors. 
 
“It’s day to day. I want to play. I want to be out there but it’s the smart decision to hold out and wait until it’s 100 percent,” Thomas said during a Season of Giving event for children of the Military Friends Foundation held at the Celtics’ practice facility. “If it was a playoff game I would be out there for sure.”
 
However, after consulting with a number of medical personnel, Thomas decided the best thing for him and the Celtics was to sit out Friday’s game which, along with Wednesday in Orlando, will be the first two he has missed since the 2014-2015 season. 
 
Thomas said there’s no specific timetable for his return, but he said he is planning to travel with the team to Oklahoma City for their matchup against the Thunder on Sunday. 
 
“It’s eating me a live to sit, but I have to do what’s best for my body, I have to do what’s best for this team,” Thomas said. “I need to be 100 percent healthy to give this team what I can give them.”
 
The Celtics are hoping for similar success they had Wednesday in Orlando (a 117-87 victory) on Friday against Toronto.
 
“They played a hell of a game last night,” Thomas said. “They’ll be ready tomorrow.”
 
The fact that Thomas intends to travel with the team is a good sign that the groin injury isn’t too serious. 
 
If he doesn’t play at Oklahoma City, that likely means he’ll return to action on Wednesday at San Antonio. 
 
“I’m going to do what I can to get back out there on the court,” Thomas said. “I gotta be smart about this. I don’t want this to linger on this season.”
 
Replacing Smart in the lineup against Toronto will most likely be Marcus Smart. 
 
Smart, who has been a replacement starter at small forward and point guard this season, had 13 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals against the Magic.