Downs showing why Celtics brought him to camp

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Downs showing why Celtics brought him to camp

HARTFORD -- There was no mistaking the anger, frustration and disappointment on Micah Downs' face as his potential go-ahead basket late in the game hit the back of the rim and bounced out in Boston's overtime loss to the New York Knicks on Saturday.

It was a game that won't matter much in terms of how the Boston Celtics will fare this season.

But for the Celtics coaching staff, it was their first look at Downs over an extended period of time.

And although the outcome certainly wasn't what Downs or the C's would have liked, he did show glimpses of the potential that made him a last-minute addition to the training camp roster.

"I have to earn my stripes," Downs told CSNNE.com. "Just being ready and take advantage of your opportunities. That's your lifeline."

Being among the handful of players in camp without a fully guaranteed contract, Downs knows every chance to impress can not be taken for granted.

And even with the late-game miss, Downs showed some of the qualities that made him a player Danny Ainge really wanted to add to the C's training-camp roster.

To Downs' credit, he made the most of his extended action during the preseason on Saturday with a game-high tying seven rebounds in just under 14 minutes.

"He's a good player," Ainge told CSNNE.com earlier. "He might seem like a mystery to some people, but not to us. He was one of the top players in the country when he came out of high school, so we've known about Micah Downs for quite some time."

A 6-foot-8 wing forward, Downs was a 2005 McDonald's All-American, a class that included current NBA players such as Monta Ellis (Milwaukee), Amir Johnson (Toronto), Martell Webster (Washington), Louis Williams (Atlanta) and former Celtic Gerald Green.

After signing with Kansas, Downs would later transfer to Gonzaga, where he had a solid but not spectacular career.

Since then, he has played in Croatia, Belgium and Spain, in addition to being part of NBA summer league squads in Dallas, Milwaukee and Phoenix.

Downs said he was planning to go back overseas, but decided to put that on hold to see if there was an NBA team willing to bring him in for training camp.

Soon after, his agent got a call from the Celtics.

"I hadn't done an NBA training camp, and I'm 26 years old," said Downs, who added that he had a workout in Boston earlier this summer. "Boston called and said, 'Hey, come on. We'd love to have you.' So here I am."

And while Downs' chances of sticking with the Celtics beyond training camp are still slim, he has no regrets about participating in the C's training camp which included games in Turkey and Italy last week.

"It's a great opportunity, a real fun experience playing at this level," Downs said. "It's my first time playing at this level. There's summer league but these preseason games, people are dialing in, figuring out their stuff; just being out here is a great opportunity and I am really thankful for it. I'm having a really good time."

But Downs is wise enough to know that he could get cut at any moment, which is why plan B will be to play with a team overseas.

"For sure, without a doubt," said Downs whose athletic, above-the-rim brand of basketball served him well last year in Spain. "That's always in the back of your mind. especially a guy like me that doesn't have a 3-year guaranteed deal or a 5-year guaranteed deal."

He has other things on his mind well; namely, his 5-month old son Isaiah.

"Yeah, just had my first kid, I'm married. I'm out here grinding, doing what I can to make the team and just prove I can play at this level," Downs said. "But if I don't make the team, that'll earn me some more respect and maybe a couple more dollars if I have to go back overseas. Just another thing to put on my resume."

Al Horford recalls offseason flirtation with Rockets

Al Horford recalls offseason flirtation with Rockets

Al Horford was destined to play in tonight’s game between Boston and Houston.
 
But for which team?
 
That was the question the four-time All-Star pondered this summer when he narrowed his list of suitors outside of Atlanta to Boston, Houston and Washington, in that order.
 
“I really considered coming here,” Horford told reporters on Monday. “But them and Boston and Washington. (Houston) and Boston were probably the two teams I was really, really looking at. Just a lot to consider.”

When you look at how seamless Horford has fit in with the Celtics and how well the Rockets (13-7) have played this season, you get the feeling that Horford would have found success individually and for whichever team he chose.
 
“At the end of the day, I just felt I was better off being here in Boston,” Horford said.
 
Rockets All-Star James Harden was among the party Houston sent to try and woo Horford to the Rockets.

“I thought we had a chance,” Harden said. “I thought we had a real good chance, but obviously it didn’t work out. Which is fine.”
 
Indeed, the Rockets have been one of the surprise teams of the NBA this season in large part to Harden moving to the point guard position full-time.
 
Not only is he once again ranked among the NBA’s top scorers at 28.3 points which ranks fourth in the NBA, but he’s also dishing out a league-high 11.8 assists per game.
 
“They made it pretty clear in the offseason that he was going to be the point guard,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “He’s got the ball all the time. He had the ball a lot before, but certainly now with their spacing and his ability to make the play himself or the right read to the big rolling or to the many good shooters around, it’s a perfect setup for him and his skillset.”
 
The ability to draw defenders and create space for those around him is one of the many reasons why the Rockets felt Horford would have been an ideal fit for their system.
 
But the same argument can be made for the Celtics who unlike the Rockets, at least attempt to play defense at a high level.
 
Boston began the season ranked among the worst defenses in the NBA, but are currently up to 18th with a defensive rating of 105.0. Meanwhile, the Rockets’ defense ranks 27th in the league with a 107.2 defensive rating.