Boston Celtics

Celtics notebook: Wall has room to grow

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Celtics notebook: Wall has room to grow

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WASHINGTON It's weird to see Rajon Rondo out there as the poised veteran playmaker.

But on nights like this, it's obvious.

Yes, John Wall got the win in leading the Wizards to an 85-83 victory over the Boston Celtics.

And Wall, who had 16 points and four assists, is indeed a player on the rise in the NBA.

There's little doubt that someday, he'll be among the NBA's top point guards with Rondo, Deron Williams of Utah, New Orleans' Chris Paul and Chicago's Derrick Rose.

But his time to shine at that level, isn't now.

He came up with a slew of big plays down the stretch for the Wizards.

But he also made his share of mistakes that allowed the Celtics to have a fighter's chance down the stretch when, truth be told, Boston's play should have not afforded them such a luxury.

Paul Pierce's potential game-winning shot was set up by Rondo stripping the ball from Wall.

That was one of four turnovers by Wall, who has spent most of this season ranked among the NBA's leaders in turnovers.

Still, the more you watch him play, it's clear that he will a player to watch for many years to come.

"He's going to be a great young point guard, if he continues to work on his game and stay humble," Rondo said. "He has a bright future ahead of him."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers agrees.

"He plays hard. he's aggressive," Rivers said. "He's got a great step and speed, and he's competitive. He plays far beyond his age."

West on the mend

C's guard Delonte West was with the Celtics in Washington, yet another example of his return being sooner rather than later.

Injured players don't normally start to travel with the team unless they are relatively close to returning to action.

"There's still a lot of stiffness in the wrist," West told CSNNE.com. "But it's getting better and better everyday. That's the only way I can explain it."

Boston has had a number of games this season in which the use of West would have been helpful.

Saturday's loss to the Wizards was one of those games.

Rajon Rondo had 13 points and nine assists, but he spend significant stretches of the game on the bench with foul trouble.

And his replacement, Nate Robinson, had his struggles scoring (six points on 3-for-8 shooting).

West said as badly as he wants to be out there, he's not trying to rush back too soon.

"When I come back, I want to be back, ready to help this team win games," he said. "I'm patient; trying to be, at least."

Odds and ends

Semih Erden, starting in place of Shaquille O'Neal (right hip), had six points and a career-high 11 rebounds. It is the second time in as many nights that the 7-foot rookie from Turkey set a career high. In Boston's win over Utah on Friday, Erden had a career-high 14 points. Andray Blatche picked up a technical foul for shoving Kevin Garnett. It was yet another game in which Blatche allowed Garnett to get into his head, and lead him to doing something foolish. Ray Allen made a pair of 3-pointers on Saturday. He now has 2,537 made 3-pointers, and needs 24 to pass Reggie Miller (2,560) for the NBA's all-time lead in that category.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

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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