Newly acquired Williams looks to start fresh with Celtics

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Newly acquired Williams looks to start fresh with Celtics

WALTHAM As Sean Williams finished talking with the media following a rare Boston Celtics practice, he was ready to head back to the locker room and change.

He opened one door, only to realize it wasn't the one he was looking for.

"See, I'm still learning my way around here," said Williams, who seconds later found the right door.

Williams has a history of taking the wrong path, whether it was his time at Boston College which led to him being kicked off the team, or in the NBA in two-plus seasons with the New Jersey Nets.

By all accounts, those troubled days have certainly delivered a major blow to his stock as an NBA player.

But it also in many ways humbled him, making the 25-year-old appreciate the one thing so few NBA teams have been willing to give him lately - an opportunity.

And the C's are more than willing to give him that chance, something that few teams have been willing to do after his first three seasons in New Jersey seemed to get progressively worse from one year to the next.

Since appearing in 126 games during his first three seasons with the Nets, Williams has played in just nine NBA games since - eight with the Dallas Mavericks and one with the Celtics.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle speaks highly of Williams, a player they had to release because at the time they needed help at the wing position.

Carlisle describes Williams as a "good kid, great athlete" who is a "very smart kid."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers spoke with a number of former coaches and former teammates of Williams, who all spoke glowingly about him.

"The one thing they all say is he's not just smart, he's brilliant smart," Rivers said. "But he does dumb things. We have to get him away from that, and just be a ball player. If he can do that, he has a chance."

And at this point, that's all Williams wants from the Celtics.

"You just come in, try to work hard, keep your eyes open, come in early, stay late and get a sense of how the organization is run," Williams said. "And work hard, at the end of the day, just work hard."

Those are the expectations he has for himself.

As for what Rivers expects from Williams?

"He just told me to be a positive influence, and have each other's back," Williams said. "It starts with the family."

And Williams is indeed part of that family, which is a testament in itself as to how much Rivers believes that despite Williams' issues in the past, he believes he can be an asset - both as a person and as a player - for the Celtics now.

"We're bringing in a 10-day, and I talked to nine coaches, assistant coaches, ex-players who played with him, because my locker room is unbelievable," Rivers said. "I don't want to bring in anyone, even for five days, that'll upset that."

Celtics expectations at a new high in Stevens' fourth season

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Celtics expectations at a new high in Stevens' fourth season

WALTHAM, Mass. – As Amir Johnson made his way to the podium during the Boston Celtics’ Media day on Monday, he didn’t waste any time addressing the biggest change from last season this time.

For the first time under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens, the Celtics have  expectations – high expectations – for the upcoming season.

“A lot of expectations I hear around here,” Johnson said. “'Celtics got this,'  'Celtics got that!' Talk to me!”

Well he’s right.

The expectations are at a level we have not seen under Stevens, and its players like Johnson and his play that have helped fuel such speculation.

Vegas lists Boston as one of a handful of teams whose over/under win total is over 50. 

Last season the Celtics were 48-34 which was tied for the third-best record in the East.

Arguably Boston’s greatest strength last season was their depth; the kind that seemed to have a serviceable player at every position times two (or in some instances).

While Boston’s depth this season isn’t any greater in terms of quantity, the quality of Boston’s starters and backups is indeed of a higher grade which is why defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers are the only team at this point that’s without question better than the Celtics.

Being a team that’s expected to be among the top teams in the East is new for this crew. In fact, you have to go back to the days when Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were around to find another time when Boston was thought of so highly in the Eastern Conference.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is well aware that there’s an increased level of external support that believes his team will be among the top squads in the NBA.

But he also recognizes his team’s best path towards success is to remain true to who they are and what they do best.

When asked what success for the Celtics will look like this season, Stevens was succinct in his response.

“My expectations never change,” Stevens said. “It’s all about getting better tomorrow, making sure we’re as good as we can be. That’s’ a very simple, boring process but that’s the way that I go about it. The results take care of themselves.”

After winning just 25 games during his rookie season, Stevens-coached teams in Boston have increased their win total each season.

So the growth both he and the Celtics as well as their fan base are seeking, has been pretty obvious.

And while most of the players tried to be as non-committal as they could on what would a successful season look like, Jae Crowder left nothing to the imagination when he laid out what a good season in his eyes looked like.

“Our first goal was to make it to the playoffs,” Crowder said. “We’re beyond that point now.

Crowder added, “Success is home court advantage going into the playoffs, getting past the first round. Two years in a row we got the same result. We have to progress from that. That’s what we’re shooting for.”

Being one of the hunted will be a new experience for the Celtics, one that Danny Ainge is excited about this season.

“We expect our team to be better,” said Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “We expect each of the players to be better. We have a lot of guys that are not yet in their prime that are moving in that direction. I do expect it to be better.

Ainge added, “You can have some goals with numbers but overall there’s a lot of factors in determining success. We want to be better at the end of the year than we are at the beginning of the year, however good we are at the beginning of the year. We want to compete against the best teams.”