Downs showing why Celtics brought him to camp


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 "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 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."

Horford-Celtics partnership gives both stability, chance to win


Horford-Celtics partnership gives both stability, chance to win

BOSTON –  This is not where Al Horford thought he would be right now.
Back in May, the Atlanta Hawks had just been swept out of the playoffs by the soon-to-be NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Disappointed with the outcome obviously, Horford was a free agent-to-be who was confident that he would be back in Atlanta and the Hawks would retool by adding to their core group which he was a major part of, and they would be back to making another run at it this season.
First there was the draft night trade of point guard Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers. 
And during Horford's negotiations with the Hawks in July, they were also negotiating with Dwight Howard and ultimately signed the Atlanta native to a three-year, $70.5 million contract. 
Before the Howard deal was complete, the Celtics had already made a strong impression on Horford during their presentation to him. 
So the choice was pretty clear.
Return to Atlanta and potentially have a major logjam up front with himself, Howard and Paul Millsap, or join a Celtics team that’s on the rise where his five-tool skillset – passing, rebounding, defending, scoring and making those around him better – could be put to great use on a team that’s clearly on the rise. 
Horford chose the latter, giving both himself and the Celtics exactly what they wanted – stability and a chance to win at the highest of levels.
The first shot to see how this basketball marriage looks on the floor will be tonight when the Celtics kick off the 2016-2017 season at the TD Garden against the Brooklyn Nets. 
The preseason isn’t the best indicator of what’s on the horizon now that games count, but Horford’s presence was undeniable.
Boston’s starters which includes Horford, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson, each finished with a positive, double-digit plus/minus in the preseason. 
“He just makes the game so much easier for all of us,” Johnson told “He can do so many things out there at both ends of the floor. He’s going to be big for us this season.”
And his impact can be felt both on the floor and inside the locker room, similar to what he brought to the Atlanta Hawks.
“With the way that I go about it is, I’m trying to win,” Horford told “I’m gonna work, put in my work, try to help guys get better not only on the court but off the court as well. That’s how I carry myself.”
 And it is that approach to the game that has made his transition to the Celtics a relatively seamless one. 
Horford holds many fond memories of his time in Atlanta, a place that will always be near and dear to his heart. 
But he’s a Celtic now, coming in with the same single-minded focus that drives this organization to continue pursuing the only thing that truly matters to them – an NBA title. 
"Even though I’m leaving a lot behind, as a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”

Rozier's confidence, hard work earning him more minutes in Celtics rotation


Rozier's confidence, hard work earning him more minutes in Celtics rotation

BOSTON – You’ll have to pardon Terry Rozier if he doesn’t have that deer-in-the-headlights look about him when he takes to the floor tonight for what should be the first of many meaningful stretches of playing time.
You see, being harassed with the defensive pressure of Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart while trying to become a pest to Isaiah Thomas (which I’m told Rozier is frequently in practice), has instilled in Rozier the kind of confidence that’s not easily shaken.
That’s one of the main reasons why the Celtics aren’t freaking out about the departure of Evan Turner to Portland this offseason and more recently the sprained left ankle injury to Marcus Smart that’ll keep him out for a few games.
When it comes to filling those two voids, all eyes will be on Rozier.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next guy has to step up,” Thomas said. “Terry has shown he’s ready for that opportunity. He’s worked very hard this summer. I’m proud of him. I’ve been in that position before. He’s been waiting for that opportunity. He’s ready.”
Rozier had an impressive run during summer league as Boston’s best player. And in training camp, he hasn’t let up in being one of the standout performers.
It has led to the second-year guard being exactly where he thought his hard work in the offseason would take him to, and that’s a prominent spot in the Celtics’ rotation.
And in doing so, Rozier knows it’ll likely mean taking some minutes from his veteran teammates like Isaiah Thomas who he credits for always being there to help him grow as a player.
“I’m trying to get better, but I want to play too,” Rozier told “Getting his (Thomas’) minutes, anybody’s minutes, I’m going for it. But I know he’s not going to lighten up and make it easy for me. I know that. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
It certainly looks like it for Rozier who has shown growth in just about every phase of his game since he was selected by Boston with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
There were many who questioned Danny Ainge’s decision to draft a guard so high when he already had Thomas, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart in the fold.
But Rozier has shown the promise that Ainge saw in him coming out of Louisville.

Now it’s just a matter of Rozier getting the kind of minutes and producing, that will ultimately validate the trust and faith Ainge and his coaching staff showed in selecting Rozier.
For Rozier, not being looked upon all that favorably is just par for the course when it comes to his basketball career.
“I’ve been doubted all my life,” Rozier said. “It ain’t hurt me. I always tell myself, ‘they’re gonna fall in love with me because I play hard and they’re gonna fall in love with my intensity level. People didn’t know who I was when I came here; that’s fine. They’ll fall in love with me and my game sooner or later.”