Melo ready, willing to learn from Garnett

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Melo ready, willing to learn from Garnett

ALLSTON, Mass. Training camp is months away, but the Kevin Garnett School for Big Men is already in session.

Shortly after the Celtics drafted Syracuse University center Fab Melo with the No. 22 pick in last months NBA draft, Garnett wasted no time reaching out to him.

I want to learn from him. Hes an energy guy. I have a lot of energy for the game, too, said Melo, who along with the Celtics other two draft picks (Jared Sullinger and second-round pick Kris Joseph) was at the Jackson MannHorace Mann Education Complex. With my passion and his passion for the game, I think well do great things.

Garnett, a free agent this summer, has agreed to a three-year deal worth about 34 million.

His return to the floor bodes well not only for the Celtics this season in terms of what he brings to the floor. It also benefits the next generation of Celtics players -- players like Melo who for now at least, is receptive to Garnetts teachings.

In recent years, Boston has added a number of big men who have all bought into Garnetts teachings.

Its not a coincidence that a player like Semih Erden for example, never had quite as much success elsewhere as he did with the Celtics.

KG, he helped me a lot when I was in Boston, Erden told CSNNE.com. He talk. He teach. He helped me become a better player.

Erden was traded in the middle of his rookie season to Cleveland. With the Cs, he averaged 4.1 points and 2.9 rebounds while appearing in 37 games (7 starts). With the Cavs, both his scoring and rebounding numbers were down despite being with a weaker team.

And while Melo has yet to have his first practice with Garnett, he has been warned about how quickly Garnett tunes young players out if theyre not ready to listen and work hard because in Garnetts mind, the two go hand-in-hand.

Celtics second-year forward JuJuan Johnson heard similar warnings after the Celtics drafted him in the first round last year.

Johnson made a point of trying to soak in any and all of Garnetts teachings.

And KG responded by sharing tips on and off the court, on bus rides to the various arenas and on plane rides from city to city.

KG has been great for me, Johnson told CSNNE.com near the end of this past season. He says a lot of really good things, but he doesnt just talk. He goes out there and puts in the time to get better. You see a guy as good as he is, still trying to get better, it makes you want to work that much harder. You want to do well for yourself, but you dont want to let him or any of your teammates down, either.

Melos departure from Syracuse was anti-climatic with him being suspended for the Oranges postseason run which ended at the hands of Ohio State and the Cs other first-round pick, Jared Sullinger.

For Melo, that is in the past now, a situation he can do nothing to change.

Now, the focus is on trying to become the best professional player he can be. And a big part of that process begins with listening to Garnett, who is already in the rookies ear.

Im ready, Melo told CSNNE.com. Im ready for it. I cant want to be out there with my new teammates, learning from KG. Its going to be fun.

He says that now . . .

Blakely: Despite their spot in East, consistency remains a problem for Celtics

Blakely: Despite their spot in East, consistency remains a problem for Celtics

BOSTON –  Devin Booker went on a scoring binge for the ages against the Boston Celtics on Friday night, the likes of which won’t be seen anytime soon at the TD Garden.

The performance was so great, even the most die-hard Green Teamers had to give the 20-year-old props for dropping 70 points – 70 points! – on the Celtics who still wound up winning, 130-120.

And as Booker continued to pour on the points and the Celtics’ double-digit lead remained just that, a double-digit lead, the narrative of what we witnessed was a lot deeper than just some young kid getting hot.

The Suns are trying lose as many games as they can, while throwing youngsters out there like Booker to play major minutes and predictably make their share of mistakes with the goal being to learn from those miscues and get better.

But the true lesson in what went down Friday night had little to do with Booker’s big night or some Celtics being a little salty about it afterwards.

Lost in all of the hoopla surrounding Booker’s big night was the repeated revelation by Celtics head coach Brad Stevens after the game about his team’s play and their record not being on one accord.

“That’s why, like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”

And Booker’s historic night is the latest example to illustrate Stevens’ point.

Not having Avery Bradley (sickness) was a factor, obviously.

But that’s no excuse for the way they allowed Booker to do anything and everything he wanted to on the floor, allowing a really good shooter to gain confidence to the point where there was literally nothing the Celtics could do to cool him off.

The Celtics looked casual for three-plus quarters defensively against the Suns and still managed to win which says more about Phoenix and its desire to lose as much as possible, than Boston’s ability to find success and overcome a player with a hot hand.

It was another case of Boston getting away from what works while settling into what felt good and easy.

Most of the guys Phoenix played on Friday weren’t players you would consider big-time scoring threats, so the Celtics defensively didn’t play with a defensive edge other than the first six minutes of the game.

In that span, Phoenix didn’t make a single shot from the field while Boston bolted out to a 16-3 lead.

From there, the Celtics didn’t play with the same sense of urgency.

Fortunately for them, they were playing a team that didn’t want to win.

That’s not going to be the case in these remaining games, a mixture of playoff-bound clubs, wannabe playoff-bound crews and a few others with rosters full of players fighting to stay in the league who will use these remaining games essentially as an audition for next season.

If Boston plays like this in any of their remaining games, they’ll most likely lose.

And that’s why Brad Stevens continues to harp on this team not being as good as their record.

Because when you’re in the same class record-wise with teams like Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland and Houston, there’s a certain expectation of consistency you should play with most nights.

The Warriors and Rockets have explosive scorers; the Spurs play elite-level defense most nights and the Cavs have LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

Those factors form the basis of their consistency in terms of winning and overall play.

But the Celtics are very much a wild and unpredictable bunch, able to knock off Cleveland and Golden State, but get blasted by Denver and lose to Philadelphia.

If inconsistent play is a hallmark of this team, their potential for having a great season will be remembered as just that, potential.

Because games like the one they played on Friday against Phoenix on more nights than not, will result in a loss which could put the Celtics very much in the crosshairs for an early playoff exit.

Five takeaways: Booker's 70 puts focus on C's lack of D

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Five takeaways: Booker's 70 puts focus on C's lack of D

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