Celtics

C's shoot straight with Melo

807518.jpg

C's shoot straight with Melo

Boston's three newest Celtics were introduced this morning at a press conference in Allston, and as you'd expect it was a pretty laid back and lighthearted affair. Or at least that's the impression I got from stories, highlights and Twitter.

It looked like a lot of smiling and posing; a lot of pleasantries, to use the parlance of our times. Hell, the Celtics even performed an entire set of Fab Melo material.

"And is he your academic advisor, too?" Danny Ainge asked Melo, after the rookie introduced the crowd to business manager Rodrigo Viegas. (By the way, Rodrigo is already my favorite Boston sports sidekick since Nelson de la Rosa.)

"We have no tests, I told (Melo) that yesterday, Rivers said in an interview with ESPN New York Radio. I jokingly told him, I said, Listen were going to introduce you tomorrow and wed going to do a Read to Achieve thing (with young students). Are you OK with that?

It was a bundle of laughs, but also an interesting and strategic way for the Celtics to approach Melo's questionable time at Syracuse.

Bottom line: They didn't run away from it. They put everything out in the open. They literally made it a laughing matter. In the process, they let Melo know that it's not a big deal. They made it harder for other people to make it a big deal. By joking about Melo's past, the Celtics were essentially B-Rabbit tossing the mic to Papa Doc (the media) at the end of 8 Mile:

"Now tell these people something they don't know about me!"

And I loved it. At times, this Celtics regime has been accused of (and taken pride in) being Belichickian, but today was not one of those times. Today, the Celtics were real. They handled a potential media firestorm with grace and confidence, and the result is likely one less thing for Melo to worry about moving forward.

If I have one concern, it's that Doc and the Celtics won't realize when the jokes stop being funny. For instance, back when Big Baby was here, Doc loved taking jabs at Baby's weight. Why? Partly, because it would always get a laugh from reporters. But also because Davis was an easy target, and a guy Doc thought needed to be tougher. After so many years, the jokes became predictable, unproductive and only added to the tension between two.

Just something to think about if Doc's still making "stupid" jokes this winter. But for now, it's all good. The first press conference is in the books and the education of Fab Melo can begin.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Celtics won't be broken by Hayward's injury

cp-spark-celtics-hayward-1-101817.jpg

Celtics won't be broken by Hayward's injury

BOSTON -- These are tough, heart-tugging times for the Boston Celtics, who are less than 24 hours removed from the gruesome left-ankle injury suffered by Gordon Hayward in the first quarter of their 102-99 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday.
 
Hayward is scheduled to have surgery today, and potentially could be out for the entire season.
 
As much as their hearts go out to Hayward and his family, the Celtics know they can’t spend too much time sulking. The nature of this business won’t allow them, evident by the fact the C's step back on the floor tonight to host the Milwaukee Bucks.
 
“You hurt for him,” said coach Brad Stevens. “He’s put in a lot of great work. I thought he had his most comfortable week as far as feeling like he was going to play really well. It’s a tough, tough deal but I guess that’s part of it, the risk of injury. I really feel for him.”
 
But in the same breath, Stevens is a realist.
 
He's been in the league long enough to know that grieving for a lost player won’t help that player in the short-term. Or the team, for that matter.

MORE ON GORDON HAYWARD

 
The best way the Celtics can help Hayward is to continue to compete in his absence.
 
We saw that in last night’s loss to the Cavaliers.
 
When Hayward was carted off the floor, the Celtics were ahead, 12-9. The lead disappeared and was eventually replaced by an 18-point deficit, only for Boston to chip away and eventually go ahead in the fourth quarter.
 
But down the stretch, too much LeBron James and Kevin Love would prove to be too much for the Celtics to overcome.
 
While the loss was disappointing, it gave the team some insight into how to fight on now that one of its main guys will be out for a significant amount of time.
 
We saw Jaylen Brown emerge from being a second-year pro on the rise into a matchup problem who dropped a career-high 25 points on the Cavs.
 
And Jayson Tatum reminded us all that he’s a teenager in age only, finishing with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds. The last rookie to tally a double-double for the Celtics in his opening night debut was Larry Bird in 1979, who had an identical 14-point, 10-rebound line.


 
But Bird didn’t have to play most of that game with one of the then top-three Celtics out for all but the game’s first five minutes.
 
When it comes to adversity, NBA players don’t have the luxury to pick which ones to handle and which ones to pass on. They either step up to the challenge or be consumed by it.
 
Under Stevens, Door Number One is the only option under consideration.
 
And since Stevens has been in Boston, his players have risen to the challenge.
 
That doesn’t mean they'll win every game, but they've shown the ability to at least be competitive. And in defeat, they'll refuse to use injury as an excuse.
 
That means younger players like Brown and Tatum will assume a larger role at both ends of the floor if Boston is to make it through these tough times relatively unscathed.
 
Veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Smart will be leaned upon more heavily to be leaders, both on and off the floor.
 
And Stevens, considered by many to be one of the better coaches in the NBA, will once again be tasked with making on-the-fly adjustments with his lineup and rotations under less-than-ideal conditions.
 
Nobody hurts more than Stevens when it comes to Hayward’s injury. Remember, he's known him longer than anyone associated with the Celtics, having recruited Hayward to play for Butler. It was the platform that launched both of their NBA careers.
 
Which is why the way he approaches not having Hayward is the example for all his players to follow.
 
Shortly after the loss to the Cavs, Stevens was asked about moving on while handling the emotional dynamics of losing Hayward for an extended period of time.
 
“We’ll be ready to play [tonight],” Stevens said with a heightened level of seriousness in his voice that spoke to how important it was to him and his players that they came out and performed at their best on Tuesday against Cleveland.

And that's the blueprint required for them going forward if they hope to be successful in handling adversity as it comes their way.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

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

best_of_bst_podcast.jpg

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.