What you didn't get to know about Joseph and Varnado

815382.jpg

What you didn't get to know about Joseph and Varnado

The Boston Celtics waived Kris Joseph and Jarvis Varnado on Sunday, ending the rookies' time with the C's shortly after it began.

Joseph, selected by the Celtics with the 51st overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, spent the majority of the season with the NBA Development League's Maine Red Claws. He appeared in six games for the Celtics. Varnado signed with the Celtics in late December after playing for the D-League's Sioux Fall Skyforce. He got on the court in five games for the C's.

Like all athletes, Joseph and Varnado came to Boston with backstories that shaped their careers to this point. Both rookies grew up with discipline and tough love that they didn't always understand, but realize now how much it helped pave their roads to the NBA.

Kris Joseph was raised in Montreal, Canada, but the strongest influences in his life were tied back to Trinidad. His parents grew up there and brought many of their traditions with them to Canada over 30 years ago.

Joseph, the youngest of three siblings, lived under a watchful eye in the neighborhood of Cte-des-Neiges. Family activities, such as board games and movie nights, were popular in in his home. Joseph's mother was more comfortable having her son close by instead of in the streets.

"My neighborhood is a lot better now, but there was violence, there were drugs right around the corner," said Joseph. "My mom didn't want us to go outside because we definitely didn't live in the suburbs, we didn't live in a house. It's not one of better places to live. There's a few places, and that's one of them, that a lot of people don't enjoy going to because of the tradition of violence. Basketball kept me out of the street. I've seen people stabbed, I've seen drugs, I've seen a lot of things growing up in Montreal. But you've got a decision to make when you're growing up, and I think it starts at home. Without my mom and my sisters and my brother really guiding me through my path, it's easy to fall into the streets."

Joseph's childhood wasn't filled with sleepovers and after school hangouts like some of his other classmates. He wasn't allowed to leave the table until his homework was finished, a rule also enforced by his siblings when his mother was at work.

"Theres really zero tolerance," Joseph said. "Growing up, you had to be really straight, which ended up helping us. When youre a kid, you dont always understand that. Like, 'Man, why doesnt my mom want me going out after school?' I have to come right home, do my homework. It was kind of like a routine. You go to school the next day and your friends are telling you all the stories about sleepovers and stuff like that, but I wasnt really allowed to do those things until a certain age. Even when I was, my mom had to talk to their mom and it was a really big thing."

There was one activity Joseph allowed to break the school-to-home routine for -- basketball. Joseph's older brother, Maurice, was a standout hoops player and took his little sibling with him to the gym. As Joseph developed a love for the game, he began to envision his future. It had nothing to do with distractions or bad decisions.

"I grew up with friends that were victims of the street, good friends that I played basketball with," he said. "It was easy when they're doing things for me to say no because I always knew what I wanted. They were kind of confused. They weren't sure how their life was going to turn out. I always had this image in my mind that I would end up at this level one day. Every kid that grows up playing basketball says, 'I want to make it to the NBA.' Some people just say it to say it, and some people mean it. I meant it and I thought if I do everything right, if I make the right steps, stay out of trouble, that it could be very possible for me."

Joseph left Montreal as a teenager to play high school basketball in Washington, D.C., which led to four seasons at Syracuse University. While he may have missed out on some of the social activities his friends experienced growing up, after being drafted by the Celtics and making it to the NBA, he didn't really miss much at all.

"With me being the baby of the four, my mother was trying to make sure I was as safe as possible," said Joseph. "And I love her for it."

The noise of 25 laughs filled the Kinnon home for Sunday dinner.

Jarvis Varnado and his relatives gathered at his maternal grandparent's home in Brownsville, Tennessee each week for hours of fun and family.

"We never missed a Sunday," Varnado remembered. "Just a big family. Everybody loved on each other."

Louise and Jesse Kinnon were the pillars of Varnado's family. They were also two of the biggest inspirations in his life.

"My grandmother and grandfather, they loved me. They loved me," Varnado said. "They were tough. They were hard. It was family first."

Varnado grew up minutes away from his relatives, which allowed for plenty of family visits with both leisure and discipline. His grandparents helped teach him right from wrong and respect for others, a life lesson he took with him playing for a veteran team.

"My grandfather was tough on me," Varnado said. "Every time I would go over there, he would make me do chores. I didn't want to, but it grew me up and it made me stronger. He made me take out the garbage so many times. I used to hate it because I would have to literally walk down the street to put the garbage in the dumpster. It was raining outside, he still made me do it. Cold, snowing, still made me doing it. I really learned a lot from him."

Varnado also remembers spending hours watching wrestling on television with his grandmother. They both were fans of the action-packed matches, although nothing compared to the excitement Varnado heard in his grandmother's voice when she saw him play in a televised Mississippi State basketball game.

"When I got to college and started playing on TV, she would call me excited, 'I saw you playing on TV!'" Varnado said. "That really built me up because my freshman year, I didn't play that much. But the fact that I played a little bit and she got to see me play, that was real special."

Varnado's grandparents both passed away in 2010 during his senior year of college. The big man didn't get to share the experience of being drafted that year by the Miami Heat, making it on his own overseas in Italy, returning to South Dakota to play in the D-League, and finding his way back to the NBA this season with the Boston Celtics. But two years later, he still thinks of them as he continues to pursue his basketball career.

"It was tough, but I just thought about the good moments we had," Varnado said. "I take them with me all the time, all the time, all the time. When I'm back home, sitting around during the holidays, we still talk about what they used to do. I talk about them all the time."

Stars, studs and duds: Smart's rebound 'as big as there was'

Stars, studs and duds: Smart's rebound 'as big as there was'

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – The Boston Celtics came into Sunday’s game looking to rebound from back-to-back losses.

So it was only fitting that down the stretch, one of the biggest plays in Boston’s 104-98 victory over Detroit was – what else? – a rebound.

Marcus Smart out-hustling Detroit’s frontcourt to corral a free throw miss by Jaylen Brown – and getting fouled on the play – was a major factor in Boston (38-21) continuing to solidify its place as the second-best team in the East.

Smart went to the free throw line and made both free throws which put the Celtics ahead 100-96 with 37.3 seconds to play.

“Smart’s free throw rebound was as big as there was,” said Boston head coach Brad Stevens.

Smart had five rebounds for the game, four of which were offensive boards which contributed to his 14 points off the Celtics bench.

His play was needed on a night when the Pistons – like most teams – went to great lengths to make sure anyone but Isaiah Thomas had the ball down the stretch.

And to the credit of Thomas’ teammates like Smart, they delivered.

“We can’t put everything on Isaiah, especially when teams know where we’re trying to go,” Smart said. “They know Isaiah is ‘Mr. Fourth Quarter,’ so they’re going to try everything they can to get the ball out of his hands and make other guys make plays and that’s what we did tonight.”

Here’s a look at the Stars, Studs and Duds from Sunday’s game.

 

STARS

Isaiah Thomas

Boston got yet another big game from their best scorer, with Thomas delivering a game-high 33 points on 10-for-23 shooting.

Andre Drummond

Free throw shooting aside, the Celtics had lots of problems keeping Drummond from dominating the boards. He finished with a double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds.

 

STUDS

Jaylen Brown

The steady improvement in Jaylen Brown’s game continues with yet another solid performance. He scored 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting which included a corner-3-pointer late in the game to put the Celtics ahead.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

He drained a couple of 3’s in the second half that was critical to Detroit’s near comeback after being down 15 points in the first half. He finished with a team-high 18 points on 6-for-14 shooting with three rebounds and three assists.

Marcus Smart

There is something to be said for making winning plays, something Smart tends to do with a high level of consistency. He had 14 points off the Celtics bench to go with five rebounds – four on the offensive glass – including a late offensive rebound in which he was fouled and later, converted a pair of free throws to put Boston up by four points with 37.3 seconds to play.

Jae Crowder

There were lots of standout performances by the Celtics on Sunday, but few were as under-the-radar as Crowder’s night. He finished with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds in addition to dishing out five assists along with a steal.

 

DUDS

Kelly Olynyk

It was one of those nights for Olynyk who never got into any kind of flow or rhythm while in the game. He finished with five points, missing six of his eight shot attempts. He grabbed six rebounds but turned the ball over three times in just over 19 minutes of court time. And maybe most telling, his plus/minus was -11 which was the worst figure among Boston players.

Clutch plays down stretch help Celtics hold on for 104-98 win over Pistons

Clutch plays down stretch help Celtics hold on for 104-98 win over Pistons

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – The fourth quarter rolled around and the Boston Celtics got something they seldom get at that time – big plays made by someone not named Isaiah Thomas.

A 3-pointer from the corner by Jaylen Brown and a hustle play by Marcus Smart proved to be the difference for Boston as they held on for a 104-98 win over the Detroit Pistons.

Trailing 96-95, Brown drained a 3-pointer and was fouled on the play.

On the miss, Smart grabbed the rebound and was fouled.

Smart, who had 14 points and five assists, made both free throws that put Boston up 100-96 with 37.3 seconds to play.

The Pistons would never get any closer as the Celtics (38-21) snapped a two-game losing streak and just as important, won the head-to-head series three games to one.

While it’s unlikely these two will finish the regular season with an identical record, the Celtics need to win as many head-to-head battles in the East as they can just to make sure they don’t run into a situation like they did last year when they finished in a four-way tie and ultimately wound up as a fifth seed.

Despite winning three of the four meetings this season, the Pistons (28-31) never make it easy.

A strong finish in the third quarter had Detroit trailing Boston by just five points going into the fourth. It soon became a one-possession game after Jon Leuer short jumper.

Smart got the Celtics on the scoreboard in the fourth by draining a jumper while being fouled by Andre Drummond. The 3-point play put the Celtics ahead 82-76 with 9:41 to play.

Detroit responded with an 8-2 spurt to tie the game at 84-all following a lay-up by Jon Lauer with 6:03 to play.

Boston scored four of the next five points to regain their lead, but there was no mistaking the Pistons were not going away anytime soon.

Throughout the fourth, Detroit began to get more of the 50/50 balls, resulting in second and third-shot opportunities which for several stretches proved to be the best play call for the Pistons.

Boston’s biggest weakness against Detroit, rebounding, was alive and well and as problematic as ever.

But the Celtics did just enough when it mattered to more than hold their own on the boards.

They finished +6 (51-45) on the boards against Detroit, leading after each quarter of play.

Detroit tied the game at 88 on a 3-pointer from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope that rattled in with 3:55 to play.

Not surprisingly, the Celtics got the ball in Isaiah Thomas’ hands and he soon put Boston back on top 90-88 following a pair of free throws.

Detroit went ahead 93-92 following a trio of free throws by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope only for a Marcus Smart put-back basket put the Celtics back on top.

Caldwell-Pope wasn’t done. He drained a 3-pointer that put the Pistons (96-94) back on top with 2:08 to play.

Boston led by as many as 15 points, but saw their lead all but wiped away by the time the fourth quarter rolled around.

Detroit, picking up its overall aggression and efficiency scoring the ball, were within 70-66 in the third before a turnover led to a Jae Crowder lay-up with about three minutes to play in the quarter.

Boston began to surge away with Terry Rozier draining a 3-pointer followed by a pair of free throws that put the Celtics ahead 78-69 with 1:32 to play in the third.

It was yet another example of the ‘Next-Man-Up’ mantra that has been instrumental to Boston being able to sustain one injury after another.

Rozier’s role was increased in part because of his play, but also because of Gerald Green’s heel injury. He would finish with 13 points off the bench.

But the Pistons continued to prove to be pesky bunch as they chipped away at Boston’s lead which stood at 79-74 going into the fourth quarter.