Celtics

Irving became fan of Stevens at last year's All-Star Game

Irving became fan of Stevens at last year's All-Star Game

Kyrie Irving was aware of the talk about Brad Stevens when he was with the Cavs.

"Watching from the other sidelines, you just get kind of an outside observer's view," Irving told Abby Chin and Brian Scalabrine Monday at Celtics Media Day. "[You] hear so many great comments about what he is in terms of an intellectual, and what he brings to the game, and his talent that he brings out of the players.

"You hear, 'Best young coach in the NBA right now and he's cementing [that opinion] by getting better from season to season to season to season. He's consistent all the time. And the guys love him. And they love playing for him. And the city loves him.'"

Then Irving got a first-hand look at the coach he'd heard so much about. Not when he joined the Celtics, but last February when Stevens coached Irving on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

And he realized everything people had said was true.

"I've been in four All-Star Games and that was the one that I'll remember most," he said. "Because Coach Stevens took the time to put all our child highlights together, from high school . . . put pictures up of, like, all of us, indivually, like Paul Millsap, [LeBron James], myself, Paul George . . .  

"And [we're] sitting there before the All-Star Game and [he told us], 'Don't ever forget. This is where it started for you guys. This love, and you guys are all here sharing this experience, and I want to make this memorable.' And right there, he did." 

And now that he's a Celtic?

"Oh, man, I wouldn't want to be with another coach," Irving said. "Because he is that intellectual. He is that high-character guy. He's growth-oriented. He wants the best for his team. He's realistic about his goals, about the mission . . . 

"That's who he is. He's a smart individual that knows basketball."

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

0:41 - Kyle Draper, Brain Scalabrine, Tommy Heinsohn, and Mike Gorman break down the Celtics loss to the Cavs and Gordon Hayward’s injury.

4:22 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions to the gruesome injury to Gordon Hayward and how it impacted the game.

9:39 - Dr. Chris Chihlas joins BST to give his medical opinion on Gordon Hayward and if he thinks there is a chance Hayward could return this season. 

13:40 - Chris Mannix and A. Sherrod Blakely discuss what the feeling was like in the arena when Hayward went down but how there is actually a 'cautious optimism' surrounding the injury.

Jayson Tatum flashes potential with double-double debut

Jayson Tatum flashes potential with double-double debut

CLEVELAND – Jayson Tatum has seen plenty of games featuring Cleveland’s LeBron James.

And in the Boston Celtics’ preparation for Tuesday night’s matchup, the 19-year-old rookie had seen plenty of James on film.

But facing him, up close and personal, was something entirely different.

“He’s way bigger than I thought,” Tatum said. “He’s way better than I imagined. That’s the reason why he is who he is.”

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James’ play was among the key factors in Cleveland handing Boston a 102-99 loss on Tuesday night.

But Tatum showed he too has some big-time potential by finishing with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds which included some nifty drives to the basket as well as showing the ability to hold his own on the glass in terms of rebounding the basketball.

The last Celtics rookie to post a double-double on opening night?

That was Larry Bird back in 1980, helping the Celtics to a 114-106 win over the Houston Rockets.

What’s even crazier?

Bird had 14 points and 10 rebounds in that Rockets game, too.

Tatum’s solid performance didn’t seem in the making in the first half when Tatum had missed all five of his shot attempts while tallying just two points.

But as the Celtics mounted their comeback, Tatum’s play was a key to the team’s improved play.

“Just being more relaxed” was how Tatum described his improved play in the second half.

Tatum added, “first half, I think I was nervous and anxious. And then the game slowed down for me. That helped out a lot.”

And the Celtics will need even more from Tatum going forward after Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury that will keep him sidelined indefinitely.

There was plenty of room for him to improve upon following Tuesday’s game.

But for the most part, head coach Brad Stevens liked what he saw from the rookie.

“Jayson was pretty good,” Stevens said. “He did a pretty good job for a first game. That’s pretty hard to do, to be thrown into this environment, first game and play that well.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE