OFFSEASON

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.

OFFSEASON

Who will make the Celtics roster?

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Who will make the Celtics roster?

BOSTON – Regardless of what the Celtics do in the offseason, there will always be position battles in training camp.

But when the players arrive in a few weeks, a handful will have more at stake than just a roster spot.

Boston currently has 18 players with full or partially guaranteed contracts, a number that has to be pared down to 15 or less by the time the regular season begins.

The math is pretty cut and dry. Barring a trade, at least three players have to be let go.

But who will they be?

That’s for Brad Stevens and the rest of the Celtics brass to figure out.

In the meantime, here’s a look at five Celtics who, barring a trade, are likely to be among the pool of players Boston will be picking from for what should be the last couple of roster spots.

OFFSEASON

Boston Celtics announce 2016 preseason schedule

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Boston Celtics announce 2016 preseason schedule

New England fans will get their first glimpse at the 2016-2017 Boston Celtics when they kick off their preseason schedule on October 4 against the Philadelphia 76ers at UMass-Amherst’s Mullins Center.

That game will feature two of the top three picks in last month’s draft as Ben Simmons, the top overall pick, will face Jaylen Brown, who was drafted by the Celtics with the third overall pick.

Boston’s 7-game schedule features no back-to-back games, but they do face the Charlotte Hornets in their second and third preseason games on Oct. 6 (in Greensboro, N.C.) and Oct. 8 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Here’s a look at Boston’s full preseason schedule:

DATE               OPPONENT                  LOCATION                                                        TIME
Oct. 4               Philadelphia 76ers         UMass-Amherst Mullins Center (Amherst, MA)     7:00 p.m. ET
Oct. 6               Charlotte Hornets          Greensboro Coliseum (Greensboro, NC)             7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 8               Charlotte Hornets          Mohegan Sun Arena (Uncasville, CT)                  3:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 13             Brooklyn Nets               Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)                          7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 15             New York Knicks           Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)             7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 17             Brooklyn Nets               TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 19             New York Knicks           TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET