Williams hopes to make most of chance with Celtics

813458.jpg

Williams hopes to make most of chance with Celtics

ORLANDO, Fla. For many of the players here, summer league games offer up a first taste of what professional basketball will be like.

And then there are players like the Sean Williams who come in having participated in the summer league circuit . . . a lot.

"This is like my fourth summer league," he said.

Williams' talent alone should exempt him from having to participate. But the NBA isn't just about having the most talented basketball players.

Often it's how those talents are used -- and misused -- that determines a player's status and NBA longevity.

Williams will be the first to tell you that he hasn't utilized his talents as well as he should. He'll tell you that he's made mistakes both in college and since coming into the NBA that have had a negative impact on his career in so many ways.

But that appears to be a thing of the past now as Williams continues to pump life into a once-fledgling NBA career that's starting to turn around for the better since he joined the C's in March. While his contract for this upcoming season has not been guaranteed yet, Williams continues to produce in a way that gives Boston little reason to look elsewhere as they try to add more depth for the upcoming 2012-2013 season.

"I think he's grown up," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "That's why we give everybody a chance. I get coaches calling me about other guys all the time. I don't give a bleep about that. I'll give him a shot. If he burns you, you let him go."

The C's have shown no signs of wanting to do that.

And Williams, a former first-round pick out of Boston College, has no desire to leave.

But he understands that at the end of the day, this is a business and regardless of how well he does in summer league, there's no guarantee that he'll be back next season.

That, he says, is the beauty of Orlando's summer league.

"For a player like me, it's the only time yo come into a gym and there's only GMs, head coaches, team personnel here," Williams said. "Players get a sense of the evaluation that's going on here. You're trying to show that you can learn on the fly and adapt. What coaches give you in a couple of days, is what summer league is about. Players come out here, show you can adapt and come out here and do what you do."

Although he played fewer minutes (just over 14) than any other starter for the Celtics on Monday, there was no mistaking his impact on the game, altering shots, getting a deflection or rebounding the basketball.

Those are are high-energy, effort plays that speak to what Williams' strengths are as an NBA player.

"He's not skilled offensively much at all," Rivers said. "But he has a chance to be a shut-down defender, a shot blocker, a guy that you can bring in and change the tempo of the game. He rebounds the ball. He has that skill set in him. He has to marry himself to that."

Williams appears willing to do that, proving once again how much he has matured in comparison to his college days and early on in his NBA career.

"I think we forget many of these guys make mistakes at 22 and 23," Rivers said. "I'd like to see all of us at that age with the fame . . . it's not that easy. But it looks like he's grown."

One of Williams' former teammates in Boston and New Jersey, Keyon Dooling, spoke glowingly about the importance of younger players like Williams being open-minded enough to embrace the teachings of a veteran team like the Celtics.

"You want to pour into the young guys," Dooling said. "You want them to know that this is an NBA brotherhood. We have a sense of responsibility for each other. Right now, you may be following. But there's going to be a time when we're not here and you're going to be a leader. You're gonna have to pool these lessons you're learning here right now, and apply them to where you are in the future. You want to teach these young guys how to be leaders, how to be model citizens, how to be family men, how to dig deep, play hard, how to play through injuries, how to do all those things. It's a blueprint for success."

It's one that Williams is indeed subscribing to, which is why he has not hesitated to assist the Celtics two rookie big men, Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, with whatever questions they might have.

"I'm learning from them, too," Williams said. "We're all pushing one another, trying to get better everyday. That's what we all want, both individually and as a team."

Williams added, "everyday is a learning experience for everybody out here."

Despite Crowder's ties to Falcons, Celtics pulling for Patriots in Super Bowl

Despite Crowder's ties to Falcons, Celtics pulling for Patriots in Super Bowl

WALTHAM --  Go up and down the Boston Celtics roster and you won’t have any trouble finding players who will be cheering on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.
 
But there are some Celtics who understandably have mixed feelings about the game.
 
Among them is Jae Crowder, who grew up in Villa Rica, Ga. which is about 32 miles outside of Atlanta.
 
“I’ve been cheering for the Falcons all my life,” Crowder said. “I’m here in Boston; I’ve been a Patriots fan.”
 
And within that fandom, Crowder has developed a friendship with New England players, among them being Patriots running back LaGarrette Blount.
 
Not soon after the Patriots punched their ticket to the Super Bowl, Crowder got a text message from Blount.
 
“He knows,” Crowder said of Blount. “Yeah, he knows I’m in between.”
 
Isaiah Thomas, whose hometown Seattle Seahawks were beaten by the Falcons, said Crowder didn’t become a Falcons fan until they made the playoffs.
 
“Bandwagon? But I just took his money though,” quipped Crowder, referring to the Falcons beating the Seahawks in an earlier round of the playoffs. “We did them Seahawks real dirty; bandwagon.”
 
He’s not the only Celtics player with ties to Atlanta.
 
Boston rookie Jaylen Brown grew up just a few minutes outside of Atlanta in Marietta, Ga.
 
Thomas said Brown is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
 
“I don’t know how that is,” Thomas said. “Don’t let him tell you he’s an Atlanta Falcons fan. Jae just started reppin’ them when they made the playoffs. They can do what they want; they might as well root for the Patriots.”
 
For Thomas, cheering for the Patriots is more than just supporting his fellow professional athletes. As he tries to continue growing as a player and a leader for the Celtics, the Patriots and the way they do things in many ways has been a blueprint of sorts for Thomas.
 
“They’re the team you want to be,” Thomas said. “Every year they give themselves a chance. From top to bottom, they’re 100 percent professional. They think championship every year. That’s how you should be. We want to model that. Hopefully the can go out and win it, and we can try to piggy-pack on what they did.”
 
Another Celtic with Atlanta ties is Al Horford, who made it clear which team had his support.
 
“Going to school in Florida, being in the south for so many years, college football is kind of my thing,” said Horford, who revealed that he never attended a Falcons during his nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks. “I would watch them on TV and stuff like that. I know it’s exciting for them. It’s a big deal to be in the Super Bowl. But I’m here in New England now so I’ll be cheering for the Patriots.”

Blakely: Blown call didn't cost Celtics the game Saturday vs. Blazers

Blakely: Blown call didn't cost Celtics the game Saturday vs. Blazers

WALTHAM -- You won’t find the Boston Celtics blaming anyone but themselves for Saturday’s 127-123 overtime loss to Portland. 
 
But they certainly didn’t get any breaks down the stretch from the referees, who made a huge officiating mistake in the final seconds of regulation. 

RELATED

Following a Celtics miss in the game’s closing seconds, Blazers guard Damian Lillard wound up with the ball but was stripped almost immediately by Marcus Smart, who put the steal back in for a lay-up that would have given Boston a one-point lead with 10.8 seconds to play. 
 
The ruling on the floor at the time was a foul against Smart. But officials later determined as part of their report on the final two minutes of the game, that the foul against Smart was an incorrect call.
 
“It just pisses you off, doesn’t it?” Crowder said. “It just pisses you off. I don’t like it.”
 
Crowder, like a number of players I have spoken to about this particular subject, is not a fan of the league releasing the information. 
 
And his reasoning, like his NBA brethren, is simple. 
 
There’s no recourse relative to that particular game if the officials in fact got a call wrong. 
 
So for their purposes, the transparency that the league is seeking, while just, doesn’t do them a damn bit of good when it comes to what matters most to them. Which is wins and losses. 
 
“It’s over now. It’s too late to confirm it now,” said Smart who told media following the loss that the steal was clean. “The game is over with. It is what it is; on to the next game now.”
 
Smart added that having the league confirm the call was wrong is frustrating. 
 
“They come back and tell you they miss the call, but it’s over now,” Smart said. “We’re on to the next game. It’s like they shouldn’t even said it. But I understand it; they’re trying to take responsibility and show they made a bad call. We appreciate it but at that time as a player it’s frustrating. That possibly could have won us the game.”
 
But as Smart, coach Brad Stevens and other players asked about it mentioned, Boston made so many mistakes against the Blazers and played so uncharacteristically for long stretches that it would be unfair and just not right to pin the game’s outcome on one bad call late in the game. 
 
“It happens,” said Stevens who added that he’s never read a two-minute report other than what he has seen published by the media. “There were plenty of things we could have done better.”
 
He’s right.
 
That blown call didn’t cost the Boston Celtics the game. 
 
Their play did. 
 
The Celtics turned the ball over 21 times that led to 34 points, both season highs. 
 
They couldn’t contain C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard, two of the league’s most explosive guards who combined for 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting.
 
Boston allowed Myers Leonard to score a season-high 17 points. 
 
Certainly the bad call against Smart was a factor. 
 
But it would not have been an issue if the Celtics had done a better job of controlling the things they could have controlled, like defending shooters better, making smarter decisions when it came to passing the ball and maybe most significant, play with a higher, more consistent level of aggression around the rim.