Boston Celtics

Baynes confident he and Morris will provide physical play to Celtics frontcourt

Baynes confident he and Morris will provide physical play to Celtics frontcourt

BOSTON –  Aron Baynes doesn’t have to say a single word when he walks into a room.

Standing 6-foot-10, 260-pounds, his mere presence says a lot about his focus when he's on the floor which is to be a physical, tough guy.

And Boston’s other addition from Detroit, Marcus Morris?

He’s cut from the same cloth which is a good thing for the Celtics who could use a few more bangers in the frontcourt.

Baynes is confident that he and Morris will provide Boston with the kind of physical play it needs to build upon the success the team enjoyed last season.

“He’s got a great work ethic and I love the way he plays,” said Baynes, referring to Morris. “You know he brings a bit of toughness to it and yeah, I’ve always had fun playing with him and he played with our second unit a lot in Detroit and we always did good things when we were together on the court so I’m excited that he’s here as well and yeah, we look forward to bring some extra toughness.”

The Pistons didn’t have nearly as much success as Baynes or Morris would have wanted, but it certainly wasn’t due to their play on the floor together.

The duo formed Detroit’s best two-man unit defensively with a defensive rating of 93.5 - tops among all of Detroit’s two-man units which played at least 30 games together.

In addition, their offensive rebounding percentage of 22.2 and defensive rebounding percentage of 82.2 speaks to how they can be a force on the glass as well.

As a team last season, Boston’s offensive rebounding percentage was 21.2 which ranked 25th in the NBA, while their defensive rebounding percentage of 75.3 ranked 27th in the league.

While Morris doesn’t dispute the toughness he and Baynes can bring to the Celtics, it’s not something he spends much time thinking about.

“You know I don’t think that’s the thing you work on,” Morris said. “You just have to have that type of attitude and you know I think it’s just the NBA’s instilled in me to bring that toughness so I don’t think that’s something we’re going to have to worry about.”

And as far as Morris’ take on Baynes, he sees Baynes as – you got it – a tough competitor whose presence and play will help Boston this season.

“He’s a tough guy,” Morris said of Baynes. “At practice, he competes at the highest level every day. Since I’ve been in Detroit with him, he came and (brought) it and you know that’s the type of guy you want to play with and not against. So, I’m happy he’s on our team. I think he’s going to be a big, major piece for us.”

Stevens says new challenges haven't changed Celtics' expectations

Stevens says new challenges haven't changed Celtics' expectations

CANTON, Mass. – There is no way around it.

When conversations shift towards the best teams in the NBA, the Boston Celtics are one of the first teams talked about.

With that elevated status comes increased expectations, the kind that will kick into full gear when the team begins practice.

But within those expectations is the reality that despite the increased talent pool Brad Stevens will have to work with this season, there will still be an adjustment period.

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Increased expectations and maintaining a sense of urgency while being patient with the team gelling, will be among the biggest challenges awaiting Boston this season.

But head coach Brad Stevens doesn’t believe it will be an issue his team will contend with this season.

“Our expectations haven’t changed so there’s no balance,” Stevens said. “You do what you do, work every day to try to be the best you can be. We know what goal is in Boston; that’s stated pretty clearly with the banners that hang above us. Ultimately that has nothing to do with how good we become tomorrow and the next day. We just focus on the process.”

And that process begins in earnest on Tuesday with the first day of training camp.

“We’re looking forward to getting to work as a full team,” Stevens said.

Despite having a team with 10 new players, the expectations have not been any higher than they are now for Stevens who is entering his fifth season as Boston’s head coach.

He has a roster that includes a trio of All-Stars in Al Horford (4), Gordon Hayward (1) and Kyrie Irving (4), with a combined nine All-Star appearances among them.

Boston also has a talented but youthful roster outside of their Big Three that includes second-year wing Jaylen Brown and first-round pick Jayson Tatum not to mention returners Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier who will both be competing for prominent roles in the Celtics’ rotation this season.

The additions made by Boston should help balance out an offense that will continue to look for ways to score.

“We have a lot of new pieces,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “But I feel like we’re moving in the right direction as a team.”

Part of that progress involves not only getting the new guys up to speed, but also internal growth from among the handful of players back from last season’s squad.

The most talked about returnee on Monday was Marcus Smart, who comes into training camp having lost nearly 20 pounds.

Smart said he weighed 223 points after having weighed himself earlier on Monday, which is down from his playing weight of last season which hovered around the 240-pound mark.

Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, said the organization talked to Smart about the need for him to lose weight this summer.

Smart agreed.

The added weight began to bother him during the playoffs, leading to increased back pain and sleepless nights.

“I remember times putting on my shirt and tucking my stomach in because I didn’t like how it looked,” Smart said. “And that pain was causing me, I was always tired, I wasn’t as explosive and I was exerting so much energy to go out there every day and do the things I been doing my whole life. I wasn’t too fond of that. I knew I had to change.”

And when it comes to the Celtics heading into this season, change is indeed an appropriate description for this team.

But for newcomer Kyrie Irving, dealing with change is nothing new.

When LeBron James returned to Cleveland three years ago, it was expected to usher in a wave of victories from the outset.

Instead, the Cavs opened the season with a 5-6 start before getting on track and advancing to the first of three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals.

“It definitely, definitely attributes to figuring out how patient you are at that moment,” Irving said when I asked him about that slow start in Cleveland. That takes a while. You have to be very patient in your approach. I speak on that pretty often. So it’s not trying to figure out one thing or a few things in one day or after one game. It’s going to come in waves, man. These ups and downs we’re about to face as a team, as a collective group it’s going to be fairly interesting.  It’ll really echo in terms of our identity, how we respond. I’m looking forward to that aspect.”

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LeBron James, Gregg Popovich speak out against Donald Trump on media day

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LeBron James, Gregg Popovich speak out against Donald Trump on media day

The flack that Donald Trump caught for his comments about athletes didn’t end after the NFL games, as LeBron James and Gregg Popovich were among the NBA figures to speak out against him during media day appearances Monday. 

James, who called Trump a “bum” for revoking Steph Curry’s invitation to the White House, said he doesn’t regret his choice of words at all. He clarified that he and his friends call each other bums, but that he would never call Trump his friend. 

“He doesn’t understand the power that he has, for being the leader of this beautiful country. He doesn’t understand how many kids, no matter the race, look up to the President of the United States for guidance, for leadership, for words of encouragement,” James said. “He doesn’t understand that, and that’s what makes me more sick than anything, that this is the number-one position in the world.

“And we are at a time where the most powerful position in the world has an opportunity to bring us closer together as people, and inspire the youth, and put the youth at ease on saying that, “It is OK for me to walk down the street and not be judged because of the color of my skin or because of my race.” And he has no recognition of that. And he doesn’t even care. Maybe he does, but he doesn’t care.”

Popovich, who said that the USA is currently “an embarrassment,” said that Trump is “comical.”

“I thought it was comical that [Curry’s invite] was rescinded, because [the Warriors] weren’t going anyway,” Popovich said. “It’s like a sixth-grader who’s gonna have a party in his backyard and he finds out somebody might not come so he disinvites him.

“But again I think, the behavior, although it’s disgusting, it’s also comical.”