Celtics find ways to win with new pieces


Celtics find ways to win with new pieces

By A.Sherrod Blakely

MILWAUKEE Maybe the Boston Celtics have some of that tiger blood Charlie Sheen has been talking about in them, because all they seem to do these days is just keep on winning.

Boston (46-15) rallied for an 89-83 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday night which extended its winning streak to five.

Beating the Bucks (23-38) is in itself nothing to be overly boastful about.

However, injuries limited the Celtics to having just nine players in uniform on Sunday.

And of those nine player, four -- Nenad Krstic, Jeff Green, Troy Murphy and Sasha Pavlovic -- have been with the team less than two weeks.

While there's no need for players to sport, 'Hello, my name is . . . ' labels, it's clear this group has a long way to go before they truly know how to play well with another.

In the meantime, all they can do is keep learning how to find different ways to win games.

"It's been tough," admitted coach Doc Rivers.

Maybe so, but it certainly hasn't reflected in the Celtics maintaining the best record in the Eastern Conference.

"Like I told you before, it really starts with our core group," said Paul Pierce, who led all Celtics with 23 points. "Until we can find a way to get the other guys adjusted to the system, and how we do things . . . it's taking some time. You could see it in lulls in the offense."

Pierce added, "But at the end of the day, we're finding a way to win."

And because of the many changes, the Celtics are getting it done in ways that should make them an even more dangerous team in the playoffs.

Fans are so used to seeing Pierce or Ray Allen come up with a big shot down the stretch.

Well now you have to worry about guys like Jeff Green, who had 11 points off the bench . . . including a 3-pointer with 4:40 to play that gave the Celtics an 82-77 lead.

"Every time I see Jeff Green I'm just more impressed, more impressed," said Kevin Garnett, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds for his 23rd double-double this season. "He's just helping so much right now. We need the fact that he can play multiple positions and he knows the 3, 4 and 5 positions. He picked it up so fast. Must be that Georgetown education. It's great for us now, because we are undermanned. He's just been big for us."

Prior to Green's big 3-pointer, Sasha Pavlovic saw his first action with the C's.

In addition to playing solid defense, Pavlovic also nailed a 3-pointer - his lone made basket of the game - that gave the Celtics a seven-point lead, their largest of the night.

Of course, Krstic continues to play well with the starting unit.

Krstic finished with 17 points, his highest point total since being traded to the Celtics on Feb. 24, and his highest scoring game since he had a season-high 18 in a 99-90 loss at Chicago on Dec. 6 when he played for the Thunder.

Boston's other newcomer, Troy Murphy, chipped in with four rebounds and two assists.

All involved understand that the Celtics are a work in progress.

But that's no excuse for anything less than success.

And like Sheen, the Celtics are all about . . . winning.

"We're definitely not where we want to be, but we're grinding it out," Pierce said. "Any way we can get the win, we'll take it. We're just finding ways to win."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Young understands work isn't done after claiming Celtics final roster spot

Young understands work isn't done after claiming Celtics final roster spot

WALTHAM, Mass. – For so many years the game of basketball came easy – almost too easy – for James Young.

He stood out on a young Kentucky team that played at the highest levels, delivering the kind of performances as an 18-year-old college freshman that catapulted him into the first round of the NBA draft.

To be so young and already having achieved a childhood dream, to be in the NBA, Young was too young to realize how quickly the dream could become a nightmare if he didn't put in the necessary work.

The past couple of weeks have not been easy for Young, aware that the Celtics were torn as to whether they should keep him around this season or waive him.

They choose the former and instead waived his now-ex teammate R.J. Hunter, on Hunter’s 23rd birthday no less.

One of the first acts Young said he planned to do following Monday's practice was to reach out to Hunter, offer words of encouragement to a player he looked upon as a brother, a brother who is in a state of basketball limbo right now which could have easily been the latest chapter in James Young’s basketball narrative.

And that’s why as happy as Young is to still be donning the Green and White, his work towards proving himself to this team, to this franchise is far from done.

You listen to veterans like Jae Crowder, a second-round pick who has come up the hard way in the NBA, they speak of how Young now takes the game more serious.

Even Young acknowledged that he didn’t take the NBA game and the need to work at staying in the league as serious as he should have initially.

“I wasn’t playing as hard (early on),” Young admitted. “I just was satisfied being where I was, being too comfortable. My confidence was down. I have to change that around.”

Crowder, a straight-no-chaser kind of fellow, said as much when I asked him about the changes he has seen in Young.

“He’s taking stuff a little more serious,” Crowder said. “It’s growing up. He came in as a first-round draft pick and was on the borderline of getting cut. I don’t know what else is going to wake you up.”

That’s part of what made this decision so difficult and on some levels, left players with mixed emotions about the decision.

For those of us who followed this team through training camp, there was no question that Young had the better camp.

But the one thing that was never questioned with Hunter, was his work ethic. He made his share of mistakes and missed more shots than a player with a sharpshooter's reputation should, but you never got a sense it had anything to do with him not working as hard as he needed to.

That was among the more notable issues with Young who came into the league as an 18-year-old. That youth probably worked for him as opposed to Hunter who played three years of college basketball and was expected to be seemingly more NBA-ready.

Even though Hunter’s NBA future is on uncertain ground now, he’s too young and too talented to not get at least one more crack with an NBA team.

And by Boston waiving him, he really does become a low-risk, high-reward prospect that an NBA team might want to take a closer look at with their club. 

And Young remains a Celtic, doing all that he can to climb up the pecking order which now has him as the clear-cut 15th man on the roster.

He might see more minutes than rookie Demetrius Jackson and possibly second-year forward Jordan Mickey, but Young’s future with the Boston Celtics is still on relatively thin ice.

“I told him this morning, this might be the first time he’s earned anything in his life,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations.  “He earned this by his play, day-in and day-out. He was given a lot as a young kid with a lot of promise, a lot of potential. We talked about earlier this summer, he had to come out and win a spot with some good competition and he did. He needs to keep doing what he’s doing.”

More than anything else, Young has been consistent in his effort, overall energy and attention to detail. But it remains to be seen if Young has done all that to just secure a roster spot, or has he truly grown up and figured out what has to be done in order to be an NBA player.

Celtics break ground on new practice facility


Celtics break ground on new practice facility

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- When it comes to finding ways to attract the best talent, colleges and universities often seek to upgrade their training facilities as an enticement to prospective players.
So why should it be any different at the pro level?
The Boston Celtics had a groundbreaking ceremony Monday morning for The Auerbach Center at New Balance Headquarters.
“When you think he was hired in 1966 and they’re still honoring him, it’s very humbling,” said Randy Auerbach, Red’s daughter.
New Balance officials echoed similar sentiments about the legendary Red Auerbach, the architect of arguably the greatest dynasty in professional basketball.
“Red Auerbach was a true entrepreneur whose passion for winning and dedication to the sport of basketball and the Boston Celtics was equally matched with his commitment to people and his local community,” said Jim Davis, Chairman and Owner at New Balance.  “New Balance is extremely proud to join with the Boston Celtics in honoring his professional achievements and personal values through ‘Red’s House’ at our Boston world headquarters.”
Celtics president Rich Gotham cited several benefits to moving the team to a state-of-the-art practice facility closer to Boston.
Among the reasons given was the potential for the practice facility to be a potential enticement for free agents.
“Players spend more time in the practice facility than they do in the arena they play in certainly, and maybe more than they do at home,” Gotham said. “So having a place where they feel comfortable, a place where they want to spend time to improve themselves across the board … it’s all coming together in a pretty big way. The best players know it’s integral to their success that make sure that support is there, that infrastructure is there. So when we’re out talking to a player, we’re going to be talking about this practice facility we’re building. Because we do think it’s an important part of our story.”
Some of the features of the new practice facility will include:
·  Two state-of-the-art parquet floor basketball courts where the team will practice
·  Leading edge audio-visual technology throughout the facility
·  Expanded strength and conditioning, training, and recovery facilities
·  Best-in-class locker rooms and players’ lounge
·  Physical therapy areas including hydrotherapy pools
·  Sports science and nutrition facilities
·  Expanded media work room, press conference and broadcast facilities
·  A flexible hospitality area designed for community relations activities, partner gatherings and other guest events
·  Work space for the team’s coaching and basketball front office staffs
While the facility will have all the bells and whistles you would come to expect in a new facility, Gotham said there will be a balance of sorts struck between that and the franchise’s longstanding history.
“What will be clear is it will be … at that intersection of, which is a strange intersection, of innovation but honoring our tradition,” Gotham said. “This will be a building that’s state-of-the-art, moving forward. But at the same time, I think one of the things we’re lucky to have is this treasure trove of great guys who came before us who left great wisdom and great quotes. You can see a lot of that built in. Coach Stevens is big on having motivational phrases around for the guys to see every single day when they come in for practice. If those come from Red Auerbach and Bill Russell, all the better. You’ll see us incorporating those kind of things.”