Rivers concerned about Celtics' rhythm after blizzard canceled practice

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Rivers concerned about Celtics' rhythm after blizzard canceled practice

BOSTON Doc Rivers' son Jeremiah was in town and had never been in a snow blizzard before, so Doc thought it would be a good idea to give him a taste of what one is like.

"We walked about a half a block," Doc Rivers said, "and he wanted to turn around. That was disappointing."

Just as disappointing was the weather's impact on the Celtics' game plan for tonight's matchup with Denver.

Having played back-to-back games on Wednesday and Thursday, Rivers had planned on giving his players Friday off and resuming practice on Saturday.

However, weather conditions prevented the team from practicing on Saturday and it has created a sense of uncertainty for Rivers as to how his team will respond.

"We tried everything we could yesterday (to practice), even into the evening," Rivers said. "Our (director of security), Mr. Phil Lynch, thought it would be very dangerous which he was right -- I hate to say that. So I'm very concerned."

Rivers even gave serious thought to having practice this morning, which is unusual to have on game nights that have an earlier start.

"It's just tough with two days off," Rivers said. "And what concerned me more was Denver played last night (at Cleveland). You knew they would come in with rhythm. But it's nothing you could have done about it."

The one change Boston did make was they arrived at the TD Garden earlier than usual for their pre-game walk-thru.

"I don't know what that does, but it makes me feel better," Rivers said.

After up-and-down rookie season, Hunter looks to get stronger

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After up-and-down rookie season, Hunter looks to get stronger

WALTHAM, Mass. – R.J. Hunter no longer has to worry about summer days spent with his nose inside a textbook (or tablet) while taking summer school classes.
 
But make no mistake about it.
 
The Celtics rookie knows he has a lot to learn in what will be an important offseason in his growth as an NBA player.
 
There were many things to like about Hunter, who was selected by Boston with the 28th overall pick in last June’s NBA Draft.
 
But like most rookies, Hunter’s play was an up and down affair throughout the season.
 
He appeared in 36 regular-season games, averaging 2.7 points and 1.0 rebounds in 8.8 minutes per game. In the playoffs, he appeared in five games and averaged 1.0 points, 1.2 rebounds in 8.2 minutes.
 
He had flashes of big-time talent like the 12-point performance against the Atlanta Hawks in November. But those type of games were few and far between as that would serve as his only double-digit scoring game of the season.
 
“It was up and down, but a lot more ups than downs,” Hunter said following his exit interview on Friday. “I was further along than I thought I would be. It’s kind of cool to see what I have to work on for the summer and not have summer school or any other summer obligation. I think it’ll be a fun summer.”
 
The big thing for Hunter this summer is to, well, get bigger.
 
He came into the NBA amid concerns that his lithe frame would not withstand the physical rigors of the NBA.
 
And while there’s no question Hunter had his problems at times defensively due to not being stronger, he seemed to know where he needed to be and what to do most of the time when he was no the floor.
 
That’s why for him to solidify himself as a viable option for the Celtics next season, it’s important that he put in the time to improve his overall strength.
 
Hunter said he will be doing that throughout the summer with half of his time spent here in Waltham.
 
“That takes time and a lot of dedication,” Hunter said. “But I’m definitely up for it.”
 
In addition to strengthening his body, he’ll also look to improve his understanding and knowledge of the game through studying video.
 
Among those he will study is Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver, a player Hunter said he has been watching video of all season.
 
“You look at how hard Kyle Korver cuts all game long,” Hunter said. “It’s things like that. It’s about getting conditioning, getting stronger and doing a lot of preparation before the shot.”
 
Hunter said this will be the first time he has watched video in the summer months.
 
“That should put me two or three steps ahead to when the season starts,” he said.
 
Which would then put Hunter in strong contention to see his role next season expanded, especially when you consider his strength – shooting the ball – is arguably the biggest weakness on this Celtics’ roster.
 
 

Turner wants to return, but other teams will be in pursuit, too

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Turner wants to return, but other teams will be in pursuit, too

WALTHAM, Mass. – Evan Turner will have a number of teams in pursuit of him this summer, all presenting different opportunities to win along with much fatter salaries than what he was looking at two years ago.
 
But Turner is hoping for his free agency to be a short process that ends with him returning to Boston.
 
“It [free agency] starts July First, hopefully it’s over July First,” Turner said.
 
When asked about his preferences for a team next season, Turner has a couple items that stack up near the top of his list – and money wasn’t one of them.
 
 “I want to go somewhere and have an opportunity to win,” he said. “Money’s cool, but I don’t want to sit there getting our brains beaten in and doing all that. I want to go somewhere ideally where the staff and front office [are] big on winning. Hopefully it’s back here. Other than that, winning and great fit are going to be the most important things.”
 
Regardless of where Turner winds up playing next season, he has positioned himself for a significant pay raise after accepting Boston’s two-year, $6.7 million contract he signed in 2014.
 
Several teams will make a run at Turner with most likely to offer him a contract with an annual salary of at least $10 million.
 
“It’s going to be way better than it was two years ago,” Turner said of his free agency. “It should be cool. I haven’t really thought about it. I don’t know really what I think about during the day, but I know it’s not that. I’ll once again stay out of trouble until then and try to keep bettering myself and growing.”
  
It is that approach to the game that has served Turner well during his two seasons in Boston.

When the Celtics signed the former No. 2 overall pick, there were plenty of questions as to how he would fit in considering how things didn’t work out in Philadelphia or Indiana.
 
But in time, Turner proved himself to be a valuable asset for the Celtics with his ability to score off the bench as well as be a facilitator offensively.
 
His play off the bench this season was so strong that he was among the top vote-getters for the league’s Sixth Man of the year award, won by Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford.
 
And while the decision as to whether he’s back will ultimately come down to his camp and the Celtics coming to terms, there will be at least one member of the Celtics organization – coach Brad Stevens – who will be pushing for a deal to get done so that his favorite player in the fourth quarter of games remains with the team.
 
“It’s definitely huge to be out there in deciding moments,” Turner said. “Once again, you try your best to not let your team down, not let your coach down.”
 
Still, even with the Celtics having a clear interest in him returning and Turner’s desire to remain with the team, Turner knows getting a deal done won’t be an easy thing to do.
 
“It’s a lot of stuff going on now,” Turner said. “I understand it and I understand what’s going to occur with the Celtics and the draft picks and the young guys they want to develop and get a superstar, I comprehend it.”

Thomas to represent Celtics at NBA draft lottery

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Thomas to represent Celtics at NBA draft lottery

WALTHAM, Mass. – Isaiah Thomas has been beating the odds for about as long as he has been playing basketball.

The Boston Celtics are hoping he can do the same for them during next month’s draft lottery when the Celtics learn exactly where their first round pick from Brooklyn will land in the lottery (top-14).
 
Because of the Nets' regular season record (21-61), the pick which came to Boston via the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade in 2013, has the third-best chances of becoming the No. 1 overall pick which would presumably be used to select LSU’s Ben Simmons.

Thomas was asked about representing the Celtics at the draft lottery during his exit interview on Friday.

“I’m going to do it,” Thomas said. “I’m definitely going to be that guy, hopefully bring some luck.”

When asked if he had any particular good luck charms he will bring with him, Thomas responded, “Nah. But I’m going to do my research and find something.”

Thomas was selected with the 60th – and final – pick of the 2011 NBA draft, and has exceeded all expectations of player drafted so late.

Most players selected at that point are fighting just to make an NBA roster.

But the 5-foot-9 Thomas has been among the top scorers from his draft class, and this past season was named to his first all-star team.

This past season he averaged a career-high 22.2 points per game along with 6.2 assists. While the playoffs ended on a sour note for Thomas, he still wound up averaging a team-best 24.2 points, 5.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game.

While some might think being asked to be at the lottery isn’t that big a deal, Thomas sees it as yet another moment that speaks to how far he has come in beating the odds that for most of his basketball career were stacked heavily against him.

“Coming from where I’m from and the story I have, you would never think I would be asked to represent an NBA franchise at the lottery,” Thomas said. “It’s a blessing for him (Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations) to even ask me that. I’m excited to do it. Hopefully I can bring some luck.”