Celtics

For Celtics' Marcus Smart, less (weight) is more

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For Celtics' Marcus Smart, less (weight) is more

CANTON -- As the playoffs rolled on a year ago for the Boston Celtics, something wasn’t right with Marcus Smart.

There were too many times when he would be defending a player, get a step behind and never catch up. 
 
And inside the locker room, the 6-foot-4 guard would experience serious back pain before, during and after games.
 
When the season ended, the Celtics knew what the problem was, and so did Smart. 
 
He was playing with too much weight. 
 
So this summer, at the urging of the Celtics, Smart made it his mission to drop a few -- okay, quite a few -- pounds. 
 
And the fourth-year guard kept his word, losing about 20 pounds.  Now weighing 223, Smart said he hasn’t been this light since he was at Oklahoma State. 
 
With the lighter load, Smart envisions himself being an even better, more versatile defender now. 
 
“I see me being able to guard guards like [Washington’s] John Wall and Bradley Beal and guys like that, a lot better,” said Smart, who added that he played at 240 last season. “Definitely see my energy level stay at a high rate.”
 
Last season, Smart said the added weight didn’t impact his energy level in the first half of games. 
 
“By the fourth quarter,” he said. “I still had that mindset but my body just wouldn’t allow me to do it.”
 
Even though training camp doesn’t start until Tuesday morning, Smart’s teammates have already noticed the impact of him having lost weight. 
 
“He looks good, man," said Jaylen Brown. "He’s moving a lot faster. He’s jumping a lot higher; it’s kind of weird to see him like that. To see him now, he’s like 25 pounds lighter. It’s like, ‘Who is this guy?' "
 
Brown added: “It’s going to be a good year for him.”
 
Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, acknowledged the team’s desire this summer was for Smart to lose weight. 
 
“But Marcus wanted to, also,” Ainge added. “Marcus knew . . . he’s worked extremely hard. I credit Marcus mostly for wanting it and putting in the time. It’s refreshing to see and fun to see.”
 
Last season, Smart would at times suck his stomach in because he didn’t like the way it looked while wearing a t-shirt. 
 
Today?
 
“He’s wearing his tank-top around, sometimes takes his shirt off," quipped Ainge. “[We tell him] 'Marcus, put your shirt back on. We see the six-pack [abs], okay?' But seriously, it’s fun to see him. He’s got guys throwing alley-oops to him in pick-up games and when they have a time-out. That’s fun to see. I’m hoping that leads to a great year for him.”
 
Coach Brad Stevens echoed similar sentiments about Smart, who is the longest-tenured player on Boston’s roster.

“Marcus is a critical part of our team,” Stevens said. “Ultimately, we want our identity to be a team that gets better every day. His mindset, his competitive spirit, his toughness, his will, all of those things, make teams better. It’s a perfect complement to anybody and everybody to play with. We need Marcus. He’s an important part of this team.” 

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