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

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

BOSTON – When it comes to winning basketball, keep it moving – the ball that is – has become a staple of the Celtics this season. 
 
And lately they’ve had to do it without Isaiah Thomas, the team’s leading scorer at 26 points per game as well as their top assists guy (6.2) who will miss hish third game in a row Sunday in Oklahoma City because of a right groin injury.
 
The Celtics have split their first two games without Thomas, with the most recent being a 101-94 home loss to Toronto on Friday.
 
When it comes to this team and ball movement, fans are just as divided when it pertains to whether the Celtics move the ball better without the high-scoring Thomas in the lineup. 
 
Regardless of what fans think they know about this team and how they move the ball, the numbers paint a very clear picture that this team’s ball movement is among the best in the NBA, with or without Thomas in the lineup. 

And that will be important on Sunday against an Oklahoma City team that doesn’t rely on the ball swinging from one side of the floor to the other, nearly as much as the Celtics. 
 
The Thunder, led by MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, are dead-last in the NBA when it comes to passes made per game (267.1). 
 
Meanwhile, the Celtics are at the opposite end of the passing game spectrum, averaging 331.7 passes per game, which is second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.3).
 
And in the two games without Thomas, Boston has averaged 347.0 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA in that period of time. 
 
In addition to missing his points and assists, the Celtics must also find ways to make plays in filling the void left by a player who has the ball in his hands a lot of the time. 
 
Thomas’ usage percentage (percentage of plays used by a player while he’s on the floor) of 32.9 percent ranks seventh in the NBA, ahead of notable stars such as San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (30.9 percent), Portland’s Damian Lillard (30.8 percent), New York’s Carmelo Anthony (29.5 percent), as well as Cleveland’s LeBron James (29 percent) and Golden State’s back-to-back NBA MVP Stephen Curry (28.2 percent).
 
So, considering how involved Thomas has been in the team’s offense, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the numbers in terms of passing and ball movement are better without him than they are when he’s on the floor playing. 
 
What should be surprising is that the gap statistically without him, isn’t greater. 
 
Boston has been a top five team when it comes to assists this season, currently third in the league with 24.7 assists per game. In the past two games without Thomas, the Celtics’ assists numbers have risen to 26.5 per game, but that only ranks fifth in the league in that span.
 
When it comes to potential assists and secondary assists (a.k.a. the “hockey” assist), Boston’s numbers have improved slightly without Thomas as well, but in each category Boston is ranked second in the league. 
 
And that ranking is with, and without Thomas in the lineup. 
 
While it’s not clear if Thomas knows just how close the numbers in terms of ball movement are with and without him playing, he is acutely aware that there are some who believe they are a better team in terms of keeping the ball moving without him.
 
“I can’t control that,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “At this point, I laugh about it. I know what I mean to my teammates. I know what I mean to this organization, to Brad Stevens.”
 

Isaiah Thomas won't make trip to Oklahoma City for Sunday game

Isaiah Thomas won't make trip to Oklahoma City for Sunday game

BOSTON – Facing Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook with a fully healthy squad is tough. 
 
Doing so without your leading scorer makes the challenge all that much greater. 
 
That is where the Celtics find themselves heading into Sunday night’s game against the Thunder without Isaiah Thomas, who did not travel with the team when they left for Oklahoma City today. 
 
Boston’s leading scorer this season with 26 points per game, Thomas suffered a right groin injury against Houston on Dec. 5 and has missed the Celtics’ past two games because of it. 
 
He was hoping to convince Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to let him travel with the team, but Thomas acknowledged convincing Ainge was a long shot. 
 
“He’s not really in favor of me going,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “I’m trying to convince them to let me go. If I’m there, they know I’m going to try and play. I’m shooting for Wednesday [at San Antonio] for the most part. That’s more realistic than Sunday. Hopefully I can play on Wednesday.”
 
Boston has split the two games with Thomas out, beating the you-know-what out of Orlando 117-87 on the road, but dropping one at home 101-94 to Toronto on Friday night. 
 
As disappointed as Thomas is with not being able to play – it’s the first games he has missed since the 2014-2015 season – he understands the potential problems that could surface with an injury like this if he and the Celtics aren’t careful. 
 
“They keep wanting to be very patient with this,” Thomas said. “They don’t want to re-injure it. It is an injury that can get re-injured and be a problem the rest of the season. I don’t want that. On top of that, it gives me time to heal all the other injuries I have.”
 
Among the other injuries Thomas was referring to, is a still-swollen finger on his left (shooting) hand. 
 
The injury was believed to have happened on Nov. 12 against Indiana. 
 
While it was painfully sore, it didn’t seem to be an issue in Boston’s next game against New Orleans when he scored a season-high 37 points. He followed that up with a 30-point performance in a 90-83 win over Dallas.