Rivers turns to Daniels in critical moment


Rivers turns to Daniels in critical moment

BOSTON With 9.3 seconds left and a mere two-point lead, Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers turned to an unlikely option.

Marquis Daniels had played in just two of the first five games of the series against the Atlanta Hawks and had yet to step on the court in Game 6. Yet he would be assigned the responsibility of stopping center Al Horford, who scored eight points in three minutes, from sending the deciding match to overtime.

Well, we wanted to go small with one big, Doc Rivers explained following the Celtics 8380 win. And the mistake we made, and we were trying to screen Marquis shouldve been guarding the ball, out of bounds, and Kevin (Garnett) shouldve been on Horford. They got mixed up, and we got lucky.

Horford drove the basket, looking to tie the game up at 81. Daniels watched the big man with mere seconds to decide his next move. The thought of going for a steal crossed his mind but there was a chance Horford would still score. Instead, Daniels dealt a hard foul that put Horford on the line with 2.3 seconds to go.

I just made sure he didnt get it off, said Daniels. I saw the ball in his hands and I thought, should I go for the steal? I was like, no, I didnt want to be the person who got scored on in the end. I just wanted to make sure I gave it a good hard foul, just make sure he earned it.

Its playoffs. I was in a bad spot. I just had to make sure he didnt get an and-one when he got the shot off. I just had to get a good, hard foul.

Horford entered the game shooting 75 percent from the free throw line. He needed to go two-for-two to send the game into overtime.

He missed the first attempt.

I just put it on me, said Horford. It felt good and I thought it was good. It just didnt go down so I just had to make sure I made the second one.

Horford connected on the second free throw, but by then the Hawks had to foul to get another possession down 81-80. Paul Pierce iced the Celtics win.

Its disappointing, especially when, myself, I have a chance to tie it and send the game to overtime, said Horford. Thats tough to swallow. Both of the free throws felt good. The first one, I was surprised that I missed. Its one of those things that its hard and thats something that I have to keep working on and get better for next season.

After being eliminated from the playoffs, Horford looked back at the shots he could have made. Across the hall, Daniels looked back on the shots he prevented as the Celtics moved on to play the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round.

I just try to stay in the game the whole time regardless of if Im playing, said Daniels. Im always going to Doc saying, 'look at this play' or giving advice to guys coming off the floor. I try to make sure I stay in the game because of situations like this. You.never know.

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 CSNNE.com. “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 CSNNE.com. “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 CSNNE.com. “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.”