Robinson awaits makeshift homecoming in Portland

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Robinson awaits makeshift homecoming in Portland

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com

Nate Robinson doesnt get a homecoming anymore.

He hasnt had one in over two years. When the SuperSonics left Seattle and became the Oklahoma City Thunder, his chance to play in front of his home crowd went with them.

Robinsons closest opportunity to a homecoming this season comes when the Boston Celtics play the Trail Blazers in Portland, Ore. on Thursday.

His friends and family will be on hand to welcome him at the Rose Garden, nearly 200 miles south from the KeyArena in Seattle.

For me, its great, Robinson told CSNNE.com. Its awesome. I get to play in front of my mom, which I would love to do every day if I could. Shes always there cheering me on. I get to see some of my friends that I dont get to see as much. My mom, my nephew, hopefully my little sister, all my friends I grew up with, playing Little League with, theyre going to be there for sure.

Robinson, who has a tattoo of the Seattle skyline on the back of his neck, has spent his entire NBA career on the East Coast. Having only played for the Celtics and New York Knicks, he looks forward to returning out west.

But even though he will see his loved ones, there is still an empty feeling knowing they have to travel to another state to see him play.

Tough, tough, tough, its been real tough, he said of the Sonics departure. The first two years of Robinson's career, the Sonics were there. When I first went back home with the Knicks, I got a standing ovation, me and Seattle native Jamal Crawford, and then we ended up winning the game. Thats when Ray Allen was playing back with the Sonics. It was lovely, just to feel the love. It sucks that we dont get to go back.

The SuperSonics played a major role in Robinsons road to the NBA. As a child, he looked up to Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, and Detlef Schrempf.

They were the heart of Seattle, he said. It was the Sonics, all we had.

Today, the city blocks that once housed Robinsons dreams of basketball greatness have a different meaning.

Its like a ghost town, he said. I used to watch the Sonics play and we used to always stop by this little restaurant right across the street from the arena. And now going by there, knowing theres no Sonics, theres no reason to even go there anymore.

After experiencing a Sonics-less Seattle, Robinson cant help his feelings when he travels to Oklahoma every season instead of Washington.

When we play in Oklahoma City, I kind of get pissed, he admits. It kind of eats me alive, knowing were in Oklahoma and we could be in Seattle. Like, are you serious? Night and day.

Robinson may not have the opportunity to play in front of his home crowd anymore, but he will have plenty of reminders of it in the stands on Thursday against the Trail Blazers.

Having my mother there is a little piece of home, he said. Now being a grown man and not seeing your mom every day, it kind of sucks. Im kind of a mamas boy. But Mom Dukes will be there, cheering loud. She always makes me feel good, no matter if I play or not. Its a warm feeling.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA

WATCH: Celtics vs. Wizards

WATCH: Celtics vs. Wizards

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Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

BOSTON -- While it’s debatable whether the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards are rivals, there’s no question there has been a heightened level of animosity towards one another when they play.

When these two met on Jan. 11, the Celtics came away with a 117-108 win.

But the game itself featured plenty of back-and-forth trash talk, finger-pointing, cries of dirty play and NBA fines.

IN FACT . . . Washington plans to bury Boston

“It’ll be a physical game,” said Jae Crowder who was hit with a five-figure fine for his role in a post-game incident involving Washington’s John Wall. “We have to answer the bell; we’ll be ready.”

Crowder knows he and his teammates must balance being the more physical team, with not losing their cool because if tonight’s game is anything like previous ones, there will be trash talk … lots of trash talk.

“They talk a little bit more than other teams,” said Crowder who added that was a factor in the incident him and Wall which cost them $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.

Crowder said a flagrant-foul committed by Washington’s Bradley Beal against Marcus Smart was what really cranked the level of animosity that was already at a high level.

But Beal probably hasn’t fully put behind him an incident last season in which Smart broke his nose and put him in the league’s concussion protocol program on a Smart drive to the basket.

As far as the hard foul that Beal delivered to him earlier this month, Smart said, “you take exception to every hard foul.”

Smart added, “It’s the game of basketball. You play with your emotions and intensity and everything like that. It comes with the game.”

While Crowder understands the Celtics have to play a physical brand of basketball, he’s not looking to do anything that might result in him having to cut another $25,000 check which was the amount of his fine from the Jan. 11 game against the Wizards.

“I’m looking at it as another game we have to win,” Crowder said. “I’m not looking at it as a rivalry or anything like that. I’m not coming in talking; they might.”

For the Wizards, winners in four of their five games since losing to Boston, a major key to their success lies in the play of their backcourt.

John Wall and Bradley Beal are the latest high-scoring backcourt tandem that the Celtics have to be worried about.

And making matters worse for Boston, the Celtics will have to try and make due without Avery Bradley who is still dealing with a right Achilles injury.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said the 6-foot-2 Bradley was not going to be with the team in Washington and would most likely be out all this week.

That means Boston will lean heavily on Smart to not only help the offense run relatively smooth, but also provide some much-needed defense to help limit Wall and Beal who collectively rank among the higher-scoring starting backcourts in the NBA.

“We have to slow them down; by any means we have to slow them down,” Thomas said. “We know they go as far as those two take them. It’s going to be a tough game. They have a lot of momentum at home. It’ll be a tough game for us. But we’re ready for the opportunity.”

Wall and Beal are just the latest in a string of high-scoring backcourts that the Celtics have had to contend with recently.

In Saturday’s 127-123 overtime home loss to Portland, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined to score 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting from the field.

“This stretch of backcourts is exceptionally difficult,” Stevens said. “They (Wall and Beal) both should be and certainly are in the discussion for the all-star team. It’s a real difficult challenge. Our guys are going to have to be really good on both ends of the floor.”