Garnett fueled by failures

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Garnett fueled by failures

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - For all the good that Kevin Garnett has experienced in his career, he wants to remember the bad. The embarrassing blowouts, the one-point losses, they all serve a purpose in his never-ending pursuit of greatness.

On Friday, even after beating the Washington Wizards by 16 points, he was still thinking about Thursdays 97-81 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

You want to keep that fresh in your mind. Its motivating, he said. We played like trash; they played great. And you want that to motivate you. Now weve got a really good Heat team coming up on Sunday and well be tested again.

With three games left before the playoffs and the Celtics in a battle with the Heat for the second seed in the Eastern Conference, Garnett has no room for excuses. He knows the level of basketball his team is capable of, and he wants the Celtics to play up to it.

I think were right there looking for that consistency, he said. And well see. If we decide as a team to commit to that, then thats what well be. If not, were going to have problems.

That means no excuses - no talk of injuries, gelling with new teammates, and especially not fatigue. The Celtics played back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday and will play another two in a row on Sunday and Monday. Thats a lot of basketball for a veteran team to play over a five-day span, and Garnett doesnt want to hear about it.

Fatigues not an option right now, he said. Its not an option. But we are trying to get better and were doing it with hard work and effort, as usual.

This is the point in the season where the Celtics cant rely on days off of extra rest. Instead they have to look to themselves, and feed off those around them.

The Jungle, thats when the fans come through, when you dig and see what you have in you. You dig really deep, Garnett said of playing in front of the home crowd. You dig really deep. But fatigue, a lot of it is mental. It is physical but a lot of it, mentally, you can get through it. If you can get through certain quarters and get rest here and there through some subs, then you can endure.

The Celtics will play two of their last three regular season games on the road. Garnett finds motivation in that, too. He knows the Cs have to make the best of the games they are given to play, and hell remember the burning losses as he fights toward his next win.

The boos are probably even more motivating than anything, he said. To be booed or to be hated or disliked - hates a very strong word - to be disliked, is motivating. You just cant use it as an excuse. Thats all. Other teams are tired, other teams are also going home, but this point in the season, its not an option.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba

The '86 Celtics Interviews podcast (Ep.8): Dan Shaughnessy

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The '86 Celtics Interviews podcast (Ep.8): Dan Shaughnessy

Boston Globe columnist, and former Celtics beat writer, Dan Shaughnessy sits down with CSN for an extended discussion on "The '86 Celtics Interviews" podcast. Shaughnessy talks about the greatness of that team and the players' surprising reaction when they found out he was moving from the Celtics to the Red Sox beat.

Starter, bench or DNP: Zeller ready for any role with Celtics

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Starter, bench or DNP: Zeller ready for any role with Celtics

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Tyler Zeller. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON – The NBA is a league full of highs and lows for players.

There are few who understand this as well as Tyler Zeller, a player who has gone from starting to being a backup to not playing at all – at times in the same week.

And through it all, you never heard him gripe about it publicly or privately to teammates.

It’s among the many reasons you constantly hear his teammates talk about how much they respect the way he has handled some extremely difficult situations.

This past season was especially tough for him considering he was heading into free agency and looking to do all he could to not just win, but showcase what he could do as player.

There were many nights when Zeller didn’t have that opportunity, but he understood.

The Celtics have been and will continue to be a team that’s about finding ways to win and on many nights coach Brad Stevens decided to go in a direction that didn’t include Zeller playing.

As the summer dragged on and the Celtics’ joined the handful of teams that came up short in landing Kevin Durant, Zeller’s return became more likely.

And Zeller’s patience was rewarded with a two-year, $16 million contract with the second year of the deal being a team option.

Now that he’s back in the fold, what’s next?

The ceiling for Zeller: Part-time starter

It may not happen on opening night and it may not happen in the first week, or even first month, of the season.

But at some point, Tyler Zeller will be in the Celtics’ starting lineup.

And when he’s there, he’ll do a lot of good things that he has proven he’s capable of doing.

When it comes to running the floor in transition, Zeller has distinguished himself as one of the Celtics best big men.

The Celtics are big on playing with space and pace and there are few 7-footers who can run the floor as well as Zeller.

In fact, his PACE (number of possessions per 48 minutes) last season was 101.93 which was tops among all Celtics frontcourt players and second overall to guard Marcus Smart (102.46).

It’ll get the Celtics a few easy buckets here and there, but it won’t score enough points with the coaching staff to keep a starting job, which would then relegate him back to being one of the team’s frontcourt reserves.

Still, Zeller is a luxury that few teams have: a player who won’t get (overly) bent out of shape even if his minutes resemble this.

The floor for Zeller: On the roster

Zeller has spent the bulk of his NBA career as a back-to-the-basket center, but showed more desire to score more from the perimeter last season, which is one of the reasons why he shot a career-low 47.6 percent from the field.

He’s trying to expand his game because of the direction that the NBA is going with big men who need to be able to score further away from the basket in addition to providing a presence around the rim.

While Zeller has decent mechanics on his perimeter shot, it’s clear that he’s not yet totally comfortable being a “stretch big.”

According to NBA.com/stats, Zeller shot 30.9 percent from the field last season on wide open shot attempts from at least 10 feet away.

With the addition of Al Horford and the return of Amir Johnson as well as Kelly Olynyk, Boston has a nice group of stretch centers they can put on the floor. And let’s not forget about Jonas Jerebko, who closed out the playoffs as a starter for Boston.

Minutes will once again be hard to come by for Zeller with any kind of consistency.

In fact, there’s a very good chance that he will have some games in which he doesn’t play (coaches decision) at all.

And depending on injuries, he may have to be inactive at times just to ensure Boston has depth on the perimeter.

Whether he’s starting, coming off the bench or not suited up at all, Zeller is an important part of this Celtics squad. Above all else, he provides depth, which continues to be one of the hallmarks for this franchise under Stevens.