Two lockerless Celtics learning from the ground up

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Two lockerless Celtics learning from the ground up

BOSTON -- The piles of clothes stood out in the middle of the locker room, tucked next to two chairs placed atop the Boston Celtics logo printed on the carpet.

Players carefully walked around the shirts and pants as they made their way to their own lockers, where their items hung neatly on hangers.

Welcome to the locker room accommodations of a training camp invitee. For Boston Celtics Micah Downs and Rob Kurz, they wouldn't want to be sitting in a chair anywhere else.

"I'm just happy to be in this locker room," Downs told CSNNE.com prior to Tuesday's preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets. "I don't care, they could put me in the bathroom."

Both Downs, a rookie, and Kurz, who played a season for the Golden State Warriors, are soaking up all the sights and sounds being near their teammates. They have a table to place their belongings on at the Celtics practice facility, and they are happy to keep their items on the floor at TD Garden if it means playing in green and white. They had an idea heading into training camp that they would be without lockers given there were more players on the roster than spots along the wall.

"I'd sit on the floor, that's fine," said Kurz. "I'm just happy to be here. It's great to be around a great group of guys, a great team, a great coaching staff, and a great organization."

Kurz has even discovered perks of his seat. He has a front row view for watching game film and is just a few feet away from Kevin Garnett's locker. "We're neighbors," he joked.

Downs and Kurz played four minutes apiece in Tuesday's loss to the Nets. Downs scored two points (1-4 FG) while Kurz grabbed three rebounds. As the regular season approaches, it remains to be seen if either will stick on the Celtics. Even if they play elsewhere, their time with the team -- and in the locker room -- has been well worth it.

"Just being the presence of and practicing with Kevin Garnett and Paul (Pierce) and (Rajon) Rondo, it's an overwhelming experience," said Downs. "I've already learned so much more than I thought I would have."

Raptors, in pursuit of Celtics in playoff race, lose Lowry for perhaps rest of regular season

Raptors, in pursuit of Celtics in playoff race, lose Lowry for perhaps rest of regular season

The Eastern Conference playoff race, seemingly altered by the moves -- and non-moves (hello there, Celtics) -- of some of the contenders, just took another twist.

The Raptors, bolstered by the acquisition of Serge Ibaka and appearing poised to make a run toward the top of the standings after a come-from-behind victory over the Celtics on Friday, were hit with a body blow Monday when it was announced All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry needs surgery on his right wrist and may miss the remainder of the regular season.

ESPN reports Lowry is expected to be sidelined from four to eight weeks. Toronto hopes to have him back for the playoffs.

The Raptors are currently in fourth place in the conference at 35-24, trailing Cleveland (40-17), Boston (38-21) and Washington (34-23). Without Lowry, and facing a rough, six-of-their-next-seven-games-on-the-road stretch, Toronto may stop focusing on catching the Wizards and/or Celtics and focus on holding off Atlanta (32-26) in order to hold onto home-court in the first round.

Lowry, 30, who missed the last two games because of the injury, is averaging a career-best 22.8 points per game. He also is averaging 6.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds.

Dennis Schroder doubles down on claims Isaiah Thomas took family trash talk too far

Dennis Schroder doubles down on claims Isaiah Thomas took family trash talk too far

Dennis Schroder isn't backing down.

The Atlanta Hawks point guard again was asked about Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, and the budding rivalry between the two players that's turned into a rivalry between the two teams. Thomas, of course, was accused by Schroder of taking his trash talking a bit too far during the teams' last meeting, a 103-101 Celtics victory last month in which Thomas hit the game-winning shot with just seconds remaining.

Thomas' comments allegedly were about Schroder's family, per Schroder himself. Thomas has since repeatedly denied the claims. So does Schroder still deny Thomas' side of the story?

“I mean, yeah. Everybody heard it, too," Schroder said. "My family sat courtside too. And (Hawks teammate) Thabo (Sefolosha) heard some things, you know, and he was involved in it. But it is what it is. Like I said, we just try to compete. And you know, it’s getting heated in the game. It is what it is."

Schroder didn't dive much deeper than denying Thomas' claims of innocence. But is there something about Thomas inparticular that gets under Schroder's skin or runs him the wrong way?

Nah, I mean he’s a great player, he’s showing it this year," Schroder said. "I mean, what he did in the playoffs last year was just not, you know, professional. And I think nobody wants to see that but it’s fine. We just try to compete and try to help our team win the basketball game."

Schroder was referring to the back-and-forth physical play between himself and Thomas that resulted in flagrant fouls for both during the first-round playoff matchup betweein the clubs, a series Atlanta eventually won four games to two. Thomas' status was in doubt for Game 4 of the series after a hit to Schroder's head in Game 3, but the now two-time All-Star ultimately was allowed to play.

"Everybody’s competitive. Everybody tries to get out, get after it," Schroder explained when asked if his feud with Thomas fuels his team any extra. "I think it’s a big game tonight and the team knows it. I’m pretty sure the Celtics know it too. It’s getting close to the playoffs and every game counts."

Boston and Atlanta tip off from TD Garden at 7:30 p.m.