His high school coach says Fultz will embrace whatever role Celtics need

His high school coach says Fultz will embrace whatever role Celtics need


BOSTON – If the Celtics do as expected and take Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft, the 19-year-old will find himself in an unfamiliar position.
 
Since bursting onto the national landscape as a high school junior, Fultz has fought to cement a place for himself as one of the game’s best players among his peers.
 
In Boston, he’ll be fighting for something else: playing time.
 
The 6-foot-4 guard will join a Celtics roster that’s stuffed with backcourt talent, some of which will likely not be around by the time he would arrive in the fall.
 
But even if the Celtics were to trim a roster spot or two in the backcourt, the fight for minutes will still be great.


 
While it’s far too soon to say how much Fultz would play as a rookie, his high school coach Mike Jones doesn’t believe his former pupil will have a hard time adjusting to whatever role he has been cast to play.
 
“He wants to win so whatever, whoever he plays for, if it’s Boston and they decide Markelle, ‘this is the role we need you to play in order for us to be a championship contender or a championship team,’ Markelle's going to embrace that and do as well as he can,” Jones said in an exclusive interview with CSN. “I would never bet against him, in terms of whether or not he’s going to play.”
 
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If anything, seeing limited time will only make him work harder to get on the floor.
 
Jones, who has been a coach with Team USA, in addition to coaching Victor Oladipo in high school, has seen first-hand how Fultz responds to adversity.
 
As a sophomore at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland, Fultz tried out for varsity but did not make the team.
 
Fultz was just 5-foot-9 at the time. Jones said he had not yet to hit his growth spurt which was a big factor in why he cut him.
 
“Obviously with the talent that he had, we did not want to have him basically playing sparse minutes on the varsity level,” Jones said. “We figured that if he played on the JV level with some really good players he would have an opportunity to really grow into a leadership role and that's exactly what he did. That was probably one of the best JV teams we've ever had in our school’s history and Markelle was definitely the catalyst for everything they did. So much so that when we moved him up to the varsity level at the end of the season, he hit the ground running. There was no adjustment needed, and obviously, he was the best player in the DC area, he was the player of the year.” 
 
His play on the junior varsity level got the attention of many, including an assistant coach at the University of Washington, who was passing by at the time but took note of Fultz and began to recruit him afterward.
 
Fultz, who played at the Washington for one season, learned how to handle initial setbacks, without allowing it to affect his own growth as a player – an important quality for a player taken as high as he will be, in joining a team like the Celtics that’s among the best teams in the NBA.
 
“No matter who or what guards are on the Boston Celtics roster, Markelle is able to play on the ball, off the ball, he’s able to play with other really good players, and I think that’s going to be something that’s definitely to his advantage. A lot of other guys are going to have that adjustment; he’s not going to.”
 

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

CLEVELAND – There are 240 minutes of play in an NBA game, but Boston’s 112-99 Game 4 loss to Cleveland came down to seven (six minutes and 46 seconds to be precise).

That would be the amount of time left in the second quarter that LeBron James spent on the bench with four personal fouls (a first for him in the first half of an NBA playoff game ever) and Boston ahead by 10 points.

Boston could not have asked for a better scenario than that, especially considering how well they had played up to that point in the game and again, knowing that James wasn’t about to set foot back on the court until the third quarter.

But here’s the problem.

Boston’s 10-point lead when James left with four fouls.

Halftime rolled around and Boston’s lead was still at just 10 points.

Celtics players agreed that not finding a way to increase their lead with James out was among the more pivotal stretches of play in Game 4.

“They did a really good job of not letting it (the 10-point lead) get out of control while he was on the bench,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told CSNNE.com. “Every time we scored, they came back and scored.  They answered back with everything we answered.”

While many will point to that stretch as a time when the Celtics failed to make the necessary adjustments to increase their chances of winning, it wasn’t as if the Cavs are a one-man team.

“They still have two All-Stars out on the court,” said Boston’s head coach Brad Stevens, referring to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. “With the best player in the world they go to unreal, but they’re still a pretty darned good team when those guys are out there.”

Irving had a playoff career-high 42 points which included him scoring 12 of Cleveland’s 14 points in the final 6:46 of the second with James on the bench.

“He’s one of the best point guards in the NBA, and you know, you can tell he puts in a lot of work in his game, a lot of respect from myself, my teammates,” said Avery Bradley. “We have to do a better job at defending him as a unit, trying to make everything hard on him. He definitely got a great rhythm going tonight, and I felt like we had a chance to make it harder on him.”

James still finished with a strong stat line for the night – 34 points, six assists, five rebounds and a blocked shot.

As good as he was on the court, the Celtics have to be kicking themselves for not doing more with the time James on the bench in the second quarter which in hindsight, was among the bigger factors in them now returning home facing elimination as opposed to being tied at two games apiece in this series.

“What are you going to do?” said Cleveland’s Kevin Love. “You have to continue to fight through it. At halftime, we were down 10. We made some adjustments on the defensive end and we just fought; we needed to. They got everything out of us tonight in that second half, but we played more inspired basketball as well.”

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics don't take advantage of LeBron's foul trouble

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics don't take advantage of LeBron's foul trouble

CLEVELAND – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Tuesday night’s Game 4 matchup between Boston and Cleveland which ended with the Cavs rallying for a 112-99 win. Boston now trails Cleveland 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

 

STARS

Kyrie Irving

He was simply the best player on the floor by a mile in Game 4 as he tallied a career playoff-high 42 points with 21 coming in the pivotal third quarter.

LeBron James

Despite picking up four personal fouls in the first half – a first for him in a playoff game ever – James bounced back with a dominant performance. He finished with 34 points, 15 of which came in the decisive fourth quarter. He also had six assists and five rebounds.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He continues to be one of the more consistent Celtics in this series. In Game 4, he had 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting with eight rebounds and four assists.

Kevin Love

Most of Game 4, Kevin Love found ways to make life difficult for the Celtics. He ended up with a double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds with five assists and two blocked shots.

Avery Bradley

Boston’s Game 3 hero couldn’t deliver like that in Game 4, but Bradley still managed to score a team-high 19 points to go with five rebounds, three assists and two steals.

 

DUDS

Boston’s sense of urgency

They had the Cavs in prime position to be beaten. But they didn’t play with the kind of effort and focus in the second half, that we saw through most of the first. And that 6:46 stretch in the second quarter when LeBron James was on the bench, and they didn’t increase their lead? That was a major, major factor in the game’s outcome.