Boston Celtics

Celtics go for jugular with second-half defense

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Celtics go for jugular with second-half defense

BOSTON Even the most die-hard Boston Celtics fans would not have predicted the C's would beat the Los Angeles Lakers so decisively on Thursday night.

Of the many factors that contributed to the 116-95 win, one of the most overlooked ones was history.

No, not the longtime rivalry that exists between these two proud, championship-driven franchises.

We're talking about a more recent history in the context of the many lessons learned during the team's latest winning streak.

"In the Orlando game, they came out in the third (quarter) and made a run," said Rivers, whose team eventually beat the Magic, 97-84. "In the Clipper game, they almost won the game."

In both instances, the C's controlled the action most of the night and seemed on their way to an easy win only for things to tighten up before pulling away down the stretch.

"We got to show them you don't sit on a lead with your offense," Rivers said. "You sit on a lead with your defense."

And the Celtics' defense is getting the job in ways that don't always directly show up on the end-of-game stat sheets, either.

"You make them use 20 seconds every time down defensively," Rivers said. "Even if your offense goes stale, you can still win the game."

That's exactly what the Celtics did in the third quarter on Thursday when they outscored the Lakers, 37-25.

The roof just kind of caved in on us and it gave them a lot of transition points and easy baskets," said Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. "They were hot. I cant really remember them missing a shot in the third quarterthey just played really well.

Added Rivers: "We just kept defending, kept defending and finally the game broke through for us."

Although defense has been the sermon of choice for Rivers to preach every day, it has only been since January that the Celtic players took Rivers' words and put them into action consistently.

"That's how we have to be, in order to be a really good team," Boston's Chris Wilcox told CSNNE.com. "Everybody just keep going out there, do your job and play hard, we'll be alright. We'll be alright."

NBA's a global game, and the Celtics are all in

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NBA's a global game, and the Celtics are all in

BOSTON – The NBA has become more of an international game as teams scour the globe in search of the next big basketball talent.

While some franchises such as the San Antonio Spurs have been poaching talented international players for years, other franchises have been more locked into adding American-born ballers.

The Boston Celtics have paid close attention to the best international players for several years.

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But more often than not, additions to their roster through the draft have come from the college ranks with an occasional international player added via free agency.

This season's team will definitely have a certain international flavor to it with overseas additions coming by way of players they drafted and signed as free agents to bolster what should be one of the deeper teams in the East.

Boston has six rookies with guaranteed contracts for this upcoming season, four of which were born outside of the United States.

And of those four rookies, three of them – Guerschon Yabusele (16th overall pick); Ante Zizic (23rd overall pick) and Abdel Nader; 58th overall pick) – were selected in the 2016 draft but didn't join the team immediately. 

Yabusele who is originally from France, spent most of last season in China and came to the States and played briefly with the Celtic’s Gatorade League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. He will be among the bevy of young players competing for minutes off the Celtics bench. 

Zizic, born in Croatia, spent last season playing in his native country as well as in Turkey. The 7-foot center will come into training camp competing for playing time, possibly as Boston’s starting center.

And then there’s Nader, a G-League all-star as well as the G-League’s rookie of the year last season. The Egyptian-American wing player showed promise in each of the last two summer leagues which is in part why the Celtics signed him to a four-year, $6 million deal with only the first year fully guaranteed. 

They each have different strengths that only add value to a Boston squad that’s being built to play just about every style of play imaginable.

But the Celtics didn’t limit their pursuit of international talent to just the draft.

Boston has also signed German Forward Daniel Theis. 

Unlike the international players drafted by Boston, Theis is a bit of a mystery to most Celtics fans.

Last season he averaged 10.7 points and 4.6 rebounds for Brose Bamberg of Germany, while shooting 41.0 percent from 3-point range and 59.8 percent from the field.

And that season ended with a German championship, just like the previous two seasons for the 6-9, 243-pound forward who is expected to come in and compete for playing time off the bench for a Celtics team that’s looking for