New Celtic Lee does the fitting in with his game

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New Celtic Lee does the fitting in with his game

WALTHAM, Mass. Courtney Lee is no different than most players who join the Boston Celtics.

He wants to fit in.

But as he soon found out, the best way to fit in is to simply play your game.

That's exactly what Lee did in Boston's 30-point blowout win over EA7 Emporio Armani in Milan, a far different kind of performance than the one he delivered in Boston's six-point loss to Fenerbahce Ulker in Istanbul.

"That first game, I was worried too much about fitting in, trying to get to the chemistry right away, kind of watching instead of going out there and playing my game," Lee told CSNNE.com. "After the first game, Coach Doc Rivers came to me and just said be aggressive. I need you to attack on the defensive and offensive end. Once I heard that, that's how I went into the second game."

While Rivers' spiel certainly helped, there was never a point in which he was concerned about Lee getting down to playing his game.

For starters, it's still early in training camp.

And Lee has proven throughout his career that he can adjust to playing with new teammates, very quickly.

Drafted with the No. 22 pick in the 2008 draft out of Western Kentucky, Lee has played for three different teams in his four NBA seasons. In that span, he has started 47 percent of the time with career averages of 10 points per game.

"I think early on he was trying to be invisible or whatever," Rivers told CSNNE.com. "But he's been good."

Lee's initial play was similar to that of Jeff Green in 2011 when Green was acquired via trade from Oklahoma City.

Like Lee, Green also tried too hard to fit in rather than play the way he's accustomed to playing.

Green appeared in 26 games for the C's, but never had the kind of impact he or the Celtics were expecting.

However, it doesn't appear that it will take Lee that long to get over trying too hard to fit in.

"They got a system in play," Lee said. "You want to make sure you understand it. You don't want to be doing the wrong things out there. But at the same time, I have to be me and play the way I know how to play. I'm getting there."

Paul Pierce said fitting in with the Celtics to some degree depends on a player's level of experience.

"For a young player, it's sometimes best to sit back and listen," Pierce said. "Understand what's going on, listening to the vets, kind of follow our lead."

For young veterans like Lee, they are beyond trying to prove that they can play in the NBA.

Their mindset has more to do with winning games, than winning over their new teammates.

"They got their contracts. At this point, they want to win," Pierce said. "We know they could probably do more in other places than what they do here, but these guys understand the sacrifice that's needed. They want to win a championship. That's great to have guys like that."

Celtics-Sixers preview: Road has been kind to C's lately

Celtics-Sixers preview: Road has been kind to C's lately

BOSTON – For most teams in the NBA, road games are a necessary evil. 
 
Not for the Celtics. At least, not lately.
 
The Green Team hits the road for its next three games, and that has been a good thing – a real good thing – lately. 
 
Boston (11-8) has won its last four road games, the kind of success that breeds a heightened level of confidence heading into this current trip which begins tonight at Philadelphia. 
 
And it only helps that they hit the road coming off a 97-92 win over Sacramento on Friday. 
 
“We have to carry that momentum with us,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “You know how...anytime in this league, the momentum, you have to stay with it. We’ve been having success away from home. It was big for us to get this win (over the Kings) to start the road trip off.”
 
A big part of Friday’s victory was the play of Al Horford who finished with 26 points, eight rebounds, and six blocked shots. The points and rebounds for Horford were both season-highs.
 
Horford’s breakout performance came on the heels of a 121-114 loss to Detroit, a game in which Boston’s $113 million man (Horford) only took five shots.
 
“Coach [Brad Stevens] didn’t say anything about going to him just specifically,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “We just found him and made the right play and when he got it he was very aggressive.” 
 
Part of Horford’s success was that he was in more of an attacking mentality. But he also benefited from a Kings defense that didn’t double-team him nearly as much as the Pistons did. 
 
“I got a lot of early looks in the game and like I said [following the Pistons loss] I think the Pistons did a good job defending and doubling and forcing me to pass the ball. [Friday night] I had more opportunities to be aggressive.”
 
Facing a Sixers team that ranks among the NBA’s worst in several defensive categories, Horford and the rest of his Celtics teammates should have ample opportunities to make plays offensively. 
 
And in doing so, they will be able to add on to what has been an already impressive stretch of play this season away from home.
 
“I think it will be good,” Horford said. “[Tonight] it’s a Philly team that plays hard and we just want to keep building on [Friday night’s win over Sacramento] and just try to be better.”
 

 

Al Horford makes his mark on Celtics win with defense

Al Horford makes his mark on Celtics win with defense

BOSTON – Al Horford had the kind of game that stands out because of the way he scored from so many different spots on the floor. 

But the true measure of his value to this team usually lies in what he brings to the floor defensively. 

Horford had one of his better games defensively in Boston’s 97-92 win over Sacramento on Friday, a game in which he had a season-high six blocked shots. 

For the season, the four-time All-Star is averaging a career-high 2.9 blocks per game.

He’ll be looking to do more of the same tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers. 

While Philly doesn’t have a player as dominant and difficult to contain as DeMarcus Cousins, their top post player Joel Embiid has been impressive even with a minutes restriction after having missed the last two seasons with injuries and recovery. 

Against Sacramento, he had a season-high six blocked shots which was one short of tying his career high which came against the Kings during the 2010-2011 season. 

Although Horford has ranked among the NBA’s top big men when it comes to blocking shots, the Celtics knew when they signed him to a four-year, $113 million contract they were adding a player who could help with rim protection. 

The biggest play in the Celtics’ win over Sacramento came in the closing seconds when Horford was credited with blocking DeMarcus Cousins’ shot. Horford was fouled and went to the line and made his free throws to secure the victory. 

“Playing at the power forward position it really frees me up defensively,” Horford said. “I feel like I can run around a little more and have more impact. When you are a center a lot of the times you get caught up with the bigs and it’s a little harder to get out to shooters and stuff. I’m just trying to be active, as active as I can.”

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas who was among the Green Teamers to recruit Horford to sign with Boston, seeing him protect the rim the way he did on Friday was no surprise.

“We’ve always known when we recruited him we knew that was what he was good at,” Thomas said. “Even if he doesn’t block shots, he alters shots and changes them. He’s a hell of a player on both ends of the floor and he played a hell of a game (on Friday).”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens likes what he sees out of Horford defensively, especially now that he plays for Boston and not Atlanta which eliminated the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs last season. 

“He was terrific in our series,” Stevens said. “Terrific. And so, playing him 10 times last year, and so, I mean, I think I’m an idiot but after 10 times I had at least an idea. You know, he’s all over the place and he covers a lot of ground, he calls out calls, and I think he’s a competitive guy. And that proof is in his winning track record.”