Ante Zizic continues development as he moves to Turkish Super League

Ante Zizic continues development as he moves to Turkish Super League

BOSTON -- Ante Zizic has proven himself to be one of the best players in the Adriatic League, a league that has produced some of the NBA’s brightest up-and-coming big men.
It appears the 19-year-old is taking one more step towards proving himself worthy of making the leap to the NBA next season now that he’s signed on with Darüşşafaka of the Turkish Super League and the EuroLeague, which is coached by Framingham (Mass.) native and former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt.
The contract is reportedly a six-month deal, with Zizic’s rights still being retained by KK Cibona Zagreb of Croatia.
Moving on to a new team at this time makes a lot of sense for Zizic, who is eager to play in the NBA next season.
And while the Celtics have certainly been pleased with how he has performed with KK Cibona, getting a chance to see him play against better competition can only make the decision on whether to bring him over for the 2017-2018 season an easier call to make for the Celtics.
Appearing for KK Cibona, Zizic has averaged 20 points, 9.2 rebounds while shooting 69.5 percent from the field in 13 ABA League games.
And while playing for Darüşşafaka will certainly be a jump in terms of Zizic facing more NBA-ready competition than he has seen thus far, the move will also unite him with a coach who has found success both internationally as well as in the NBA.
It doesn’t hurt that Blatt has been a big fan of Zizic for years, even going so far as to speak about the Croatian big man’s work ethic during the Euroleague Adidas camp prior to last June’s NBA draft when the Celtics picked Zizic with the 23rd overall pick.
One of the most decorated coaches in the world, Blatt has been named Israeli League coach of the year four times (1996,2002, 2011 and 2014), Euroleague coach of the Year (2014) as well as Russian Superleague coach of the Year (2005).
And in his season-plus as the Cavaliers head coach, Blatt led them to the NBA Finals as a rookie coach and finished with a .675 winning percentage before fired in the middle of the 2015-2016 season with a 30-11 record at the time which was tops in the Eastern Conference.
The Cavs, under ex-Celtics assistant Tyronn Lue, would go on to win the franchise’s first NBA title last June.

NBCSB Breakfast podcast: Maybe next year will be the Celtics' year

NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NBCSB Breakfast podcast: Maybe next year will be the Celtics' year

1:31 - With the results of Kyrie Irving’s second opinion on he knee looming, the Celtic’s season is certainly up in the air. A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Mannix, Kyle Draper and Gary Tanguay debate how and if Kyrie should be used if he returns.

6:02 - Back in October Michael Felger prematurely said the Bruins season was over. The B’s marketing team featured Felger in an ad for playoff tickets now that the Bruins have clinched the playoffs. Felger, Trenni and Gary react to the commercial and discuss the Bruins playoff chances.

11:47 - The Patriots are making moves! on Tursday the Pats made deals with LaAdrian Waddle, Marquis Flowers and Patrick Chung. Phil Perry, Michael Holley, Troy Brown and Tom Curran discuss how despite these moves, the Patriots should still be in search of a left tackle.

Greg Monroe looking forward to his 2nd taste of playoffs

File Photo

Greg Monroe looking forward to his 2nd taste of playoffs

BOSTON – We live in a world filled with success stories that came about by accident. 

The invention of the microwave oven.

Post-It notes.

The creation of potato chips.

The Boston Celtics’ game-winning play against Oklahoma City earlier this week qualfies; a play in which there were multiple miscues made by the Celtics prior to Marcus Morris’ game-winning shot. 


All these Celtics injuries have made Brad Stevens a mad scientist of sorts with some unusual lineups that may be on display tonight against the guard-centric Portland Trail Blazers. 

In Boston’s 100-99 win over the Thunder on Tuesday, we saw Stevens utilize a lineup with Al Horford and Greg Monroe, in four different stints.

Monroe, who had 17 points off the bench - the most he has scored as a Celtic -  enjoyed playing with Horford.

“Al’s so smart. He’s seen it all in this league,” Monroe told NBC Sports Boston. “He’s an all-star. Very cerebral player, unselfish. So it’s easy playing with him. He can space, drive, make plays. I feel like I can make plays, driving. It’s fun playing with him. I look forward to getting out there with him more.”

Horford had similar praise for playing with Monroe.

“Coach (Brad Stevens) made a great move bringing Greg back in, in the fourth, playing us together,” Horford said. “He made some great plays, passing the ball and just … timely plays. It’s one of those things, the more we play with each other the more comfortable we’ll get. I thought it was very positive.”

Monroe’s role has become significantly more important with the season-ending injury (torn meniscus, left knee) to Daniel Theis. And his ability to play well with various lineups will only improve Boston’s chances of weathering this latest storm of injuries which comes on the eve of the playoffs. 

And while there’s a certain amount of pleasure all players take in being on a playoff-bound team, Monroe understands better than most NBA veterans just how special it is to be headed towards the postseason.

In his eighth season, this will only be Monroe’s second time participating in the playoffs. 

The first time? 

That was last year, with the Milwaukee Bucks. 

“This is what everybody plays for, I hope,” Monroe said. “This is what I play for, to get into the postseason, make a run. It’s the best situation. I’ve been through a lot in my career, this year. I’m grateful. I don’t take anything for granted. I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team.”

And he has done that lately.

Monroe comes into tonight’s game having scored in double figures each of the last four games, a season high for the 6-foot-11 center. 

Having spent most of his NBA career watching instead of participating in the playoffs, Monroe is out to prove that he can in fact be a significant contributor to a team that’s postseason-bound.

“For sure. You have to have a little chip, a little fire, at least in my eyes,” Monroe said. “I’ve never doubted myself. It’s about being between those lines and being the best player I can be. That’s what I’m focused on.”