Boston Celtics

Buckeye bond for Sullinger and Turner

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Buckeye bond for Sullinger and Turner

BOSTON -- J.J. Sullinger became like an older brother to Evan Turner when he entered Ohio State University. In turn, Turner developed the same kind of relationship with J.J.'s younger sibling, Jared. Five years later, the former Buckeyes are seeing their bond play out on the NBA court.

Turner met Jared when they were 18 and 15. The Illinois native joined the Ohio State basketball team in 2007, and J.J., who graduated the previous year, took him under his wing. Through Turner's time around the Sullinger family, he took on the big brother role with Jared that J.J. had with him. He enjoyed the combination of Jared's fierce competitiveness and laidback attitude, mixed in with a feisty sense of humor that often included instigating a joke or prank.

"I was always in Columbus Ohio, so I would always go to his game, hang out with the Sully's. They were like fam," Turner told CSNNE.com prior to Sunday's Celtics-Sixers preseason game. "I would go to Jared's games, pick him up, go to the movies back in high school."

Jared was a standout at Northland High School, a team he would lead to a 21-0 record in his senior year. Turner noticed he had a strong physical presence and an even stronger knowledge of the game.

"One thing I've always said about Jared is, he's smart," said Turner. "His IQ is unreal. He was so far ahead of all the big men due to the simple fact that he just knew how to play and use his body."

Turner saw this skill in action when Jared joined a group of OSU players and alumni for a game over the summer. 2007 first overall draft pick Greg Oden had finished his rookie season in the NBA, and Jared paid no attention to the seven-footer's accomplishments.

"I saw him go up against Greg Oden when he was 16 or 17," Turner recalled. "He was destroying Greg Oden, holding his own against him because he knew how to play."

Turner left Ohio State after his junior year and entered the 2010 NBA Draft, where the Philadelphia 76er selected him with the second pick. Even though some worried how the Buckeyes would make up for Turner's 15 points, seven rebounds, and four assists per game, the guard knew his alma matter would be in good hands.

"I told them Jared's going to come in and average 18 and 10, and he did," said Turner. "I already knew he was going to be a big talent player."

Unlike Turner, Jared fell out of the lottery in the NBA Draft. This summer the Celtics selected him with the 21st pick. He has already earned himself significant preseason minutes at only 20 years old on a veteran team. Turner faced him twice in preseason action and says nothing has changed about Sullinger in a good way.

"One thing smart about him is, he's still the same person," said Turner. "People try to go to the league and change their game. He knows how to rebound, he knows how to play, and he's humble enough to take orders and take advice from the veterans that he has. He's got everything going for him now and he's going to have a big, big year."

Horford: 'Trying to figure out the best way to help' after Hurricane Maria

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Horford: 'Trying to figure out the best way to help' after Hurricane Maria

CANTON, Mass. –  Hurricane Maria ravaged a number of Caribbean Islands, including the Dominican Republic – the home of Boston Celtics big man Al Horford.

“My immediate family is OK,” Horford told CSNNE.com during Boston’s Media Day on Monday. “But we look at everything in the big picture. We were very lucky in comparison to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, a lot of smaller islands.”

Hurricane Maria hit the Dominican Republic with heavy wind and rain but delivered a much more powerful punch to other islands.

Puerto Rico has been devastated by the storm which has knocked out most of the electricity on the island along with heavy flooding.

The U.S. Virgin Islands was hit hard as well.

While the Dominican Republic wasn’t hit quite as hard as some other islands, they too are going through what’s likely to be an extended recovery period.

“We do have a lot of flooding,” Horford said of the Dominican Republic. “There’s a lot of need.”

Horford intends to address that need in some capacity.

“Right now, we’re trying to figure out the best way to help down there,” he said. “We want to make sure whatever we do as far as money and help-wise, it’s going to the people in need.”

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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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