Lockout or not, Impact Basketball could be tradition

431023.jpg

Lockout or not, Impact Basketball could be tradition

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn LAS VEGAS One of the reasons the Impact Basketball Training Series -- aka, the Lockout League -- came about was because of the labor stalemate between the NBA's owners and the players union.

But even after the two sides reach a new deal, you can expect to see a similar league next summer.

"I think we'll do it every year, no question," Joe Abunassar, founder of Impact Basketball, told CSNNE.com. "A two-week span right toward the end of the training session would be perfect. Maybe the week before or the week after Labor Day. We invite guys to Vegas, they train, we play. I think it would be very good."

The key to this league's success will be timing.

The lockout obviously helped, as well as the location being in Las Vegas -- a popular spot for players during the offseason.

When you throw in the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Victor Ortiz fight on Saturday, it made it even more enticing for players to participate.

But the thrust of the league will be preparing guys for the upcoming NBA season -- whenever that is.

"The guys that have been doing individual training all summer, they're probably tired of that by now," Abunassar said. "It's difficult being in a gym with one, two, three guys all summer, lifting weights. So it's time to play."

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

Stevens: Thomas, C's must make right play, not force shots

celtics_isaiah_thomas_1_042616.jpg

Stevens: Thomas, C's must make right play, not force shots

BOSTON - Isaiah Thomas is good to go for Game 6, though it's yet to be determined how much the ankle will affect him.

Either way, he can expect much of the focus to be on him throughout the game, as it has been for the entire series.

In Game 5 specifically, though, the Hawks stopped Thomas in a way they haven't been able to all series. The result? Just seven points for the C's leading scorer. They brought the double-team, and sometimes even the triple-team, making him unable to score.

But though Thomas' main objective is to score, as the starting point guard he's needed to do much more than that.

"You just have to make the right basketball play," Stevens said when asked if Thomas needs to be more aggressive when he's trapped. "He’s going to have the ball a ton for us, he’s going to be off the ball on actions for us, he’s going to have to read when he should screen, he’s going to have to read when he gets the ball how he’s being played, and just make the right basketball play.

"There’s certainly things you can do to alleviate some of that. But I felt we attacked it really well at the start of the game. Certainly part of their scoring runs was some bad offense on our part in the latter parts of the game. I left thinking Isaiah made a lot of the right basketball plays. That’s his charge – he has to do that, and we’ll follow suit."

Following suit with making the right decision - and hitting the shot - is something the C's couldn't do much of in Game 5. If Boston wants its playoff run to continue, it's going to have to be a team effort.

"We just have to make the right read, whether it’s catch and shoot or whether it’s catch and rip and drive," Stevens said. "Somebody else gets in the paint and makes the right read, and that’s part of it. We have good players who can do that, I believe they can and Isaiah does too. But Isaiah can’t force. If they’re going to put two to the ball, that’s when you have to make the right basketball play."

Stevens: Celtics shootaround resembled 'typical day'

celtics_brad_stevens_012716.jpg

Stevens: Celtics shootaround resembled 'typical day'

BOSTON - Hours before the biggest game of their careers, the Boston Celtics walked into the TD Garden and took part in the team's walkthrough like they have done before any old game.

This is far from any old game. The team's playoff lives are on the line after a no-show in Atlanta. The Celtics have every reason to be jacked up headed into this one - and they most likely will get to that level right around pregame introductions - but following the lead of their level-headed coach has gotten them this far, and that isn't about to change.

"When the guys walk in, they came in, we went through our shootaround. Typical day," Stevens said. "The focus is always pretty good. It was good again today. Just ready to compete and excited to play in this building."

The Celtics should be excited to play in this building. They've played exceptionally well here as of late, beating the Hawks in both of their home playoff games. The fans brought their "A" game in those two games, and it's a foregone conclusion they'll bring it for Game 6.

When asked if players really can feed off the fans, Stevens answered by saying that without question they can.

"I've said this many times, I've been so impressed ever since I've been here with the Celtics fans," Stevens said. "You can clearly feel the energy levels increasing as the months go by and as the days go by with this group. And certainly the last few months with the way our guys have played in here and the amount of energy in here. It's been incredible. It's been fun to be a part of. Hopefully we can continue."

Olynyk's shoulder feeling better heading into Game 6

kelly_olynyk_032116.jpg

Olynyk's shoulder feeling better heading into Game 6

BOSTON – Even during pre-game warmups, it was something that hasn’t been seen on the TD Garden floor in quite a while – Kelly Olynyk raising up for long, long 3-balls that hit nothing but the bottom of the net a la Steph Curry-style.

The 7-foot center cites his injured right shoulder feeling better – a lot better actually - for his much-improved confidence.

And the timing could not be any better as the Celtics prepare to fight for their playoff lives tonight against Atlanta which holds a 3-2 series lead and could close out this series with a win tonight.

The Hawks are one of the better teams in the East, but have certainly benefited from a number of Celtics being either out because of injuries (Avery Bradley, hamstring) or limited as is the case with Olynyk who did not play in Games 2 and 3 while seeing less than four minutes in Game 4.

When I asked Olynyk whether this was the best he has felt in this series, he responded, “by far.”

“It’s getting better every day,” he told CSNNE.com. “It’s getting stronger. The motion is coming back … time heals everything, right? The further along we get the better it gets.”

During the regular season, Olynyk averaged a career-high 10.0 points per game along with 4.1 rebounds in 20.2 minutes while shooting a team-best 40.5 percent from 3-point range.

In this series, Olynyk has averaged just 0.7 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists in just 8.7 minutes per game while shooting just 14.3 percent from the field which includes him missing both of his 3-point attempts in the series.

But health-wise, this is as good an opportunity for him to break out of his funk and do his part to help the Celtics live to play another game.

“The motion feels good,” he said. “A little discomfort but now it’s doing good. That’s where you want to be going into this game.”