Celtics encouraged by Theis' impressive debut


Celtics encouraged by Theis' impressive debut

WALTHAM -- When you’ve spent as many years playing in Germany as Daniel Theis did, the sight of an NBA scout was nothing unusual. 

But it seemed there was one scout, Benas Matkevicius, who seemed to be at the gym or at his games with regularity.

It wasn’t until he began to have conversations with Austin Ainge, Boston’s director of player personnel, did he learn that Matkevicius was an international scout for the Celtics. 

So while his arrival in Boston may have seemed to come out of left field, the Celtics have had their eye on the 25-year-old Theis (pronounced Tice) for quite some time. 

“Good player, good defender,” was how Ainge described the 6-foot-9 forward to NBC Sports Boston earlier this summer. “He’s a good, high-energy type of player who can help us.”

He certainly did in Boston’s 94-82 preseason win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night.

The 25-year-old Theis is known more for his defense (he was German League’s top defender this past season), but his non-stop movement and all-out energy allowed him to come off the bench and score 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting, to go with seven rebounds and three assists with one steal and one blocked shot in less than 14 minutes.

Of course, it would be a mistake to put too much stock in Theis’ Celtics debut, but the versatility he showed at both ends of the floor was certainly encouraging for a Boston team that has several areas to address in the preseason which includes developing a bench.

Theis, who signed a two-year deal with Boston (the second year is non-guaranteed), will get an opportunity to play his way into a more significant role going forward.

Boston’s Marcus Morris is in Phoenix awaiting a verdict on the trial in which he and his brother Markieff, have been charged with assault charges in connection with an incident in 2015. A ruling is expected to come down sometime this week.

Marcus' absence has created a need for additional help in the frontcourt. And to Theis’ credit, he has made the most of his opportunity to play. 

No one anticipates him playing that well night-in and night-out.

But the fact that Theis was able to do it at a time when there’s so much uncertainty as to how the Celtics will play and which combinations they will go with, it all bodes well for his chances of helping contribute in some capacity this season.

And while the focus for the Celtics is trying to get better from one day to the next, Theis fully embraces the Celtics way of life which is to compete and win championships, as often as possible. 

A four-time German League all-star with Brose Bamberg which plays at the top-tier German League level as well as in Euroleague, Theis has been part of a team that has won championships each of the last three seasons. 

“They like championships here,” said Theis, smiling. “So do I.”

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

When is a setback not a setback?

When Danny Ainge says, "You know what? Sometimes I talk too much," Ainge told the Boston Herald over the weekend. "'Setback' wasn't the right word, so let me rephrase that because it's not exactly true to say it - or say it that way.

The Celtics president of basketball operations, in his weekly radio interview with Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub and simulcast on NBC Sports Boston, used that word when he was describing how Gordon Hayward is coming along in his recovery. 

"He had like one setback for a couple of weeks, maybe a month and a half ago," Ainge said on the radio last week. "We were progressing a little bit too fast, we thought."

Ainge clarified that to the Herald's Steve Bulpett. 

"What happened is he went on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill] the first day and he felt some soreness," he said. "It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn't ready for it at that point. That's all it was."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been adamant that Hayward, recovering from his gruesome leg and ankle injury in the season opener, will not play for the Celtics this season. On Sunday, Stevens, via MassLive.com's Jay King, characterized Stevens' soreness as a "small" issue. 



Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

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Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

CLEVELAND - Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence from the team to address health issues that have included chest pains and loss of sleep.

Lue said Monday in a statement that tests have offered no conclusion about what the issue is and offered no timetable for his return. The coach said he feels he needs to step away "and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation" from which to coach the rest of the season.

Here's a portion of Lue's statement:

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

"While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season," Lue said. "My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the championship we are all working towards."

A stress-filled season for the Cavs has taken a toll on the Lue, 40, a former Celtics assistant under Doc Rivers who led them to the 2016 NBA championship after taking over for David Blatt midway through that season. They are j40-29, third in the Eastern Conference, behind the second-place Celtics and East-leading Toronto Raptors, and have endured roster shake-ups, injuries and other distractions as they try to return to the NBA Finals.

David Aldridge of TNT reports that the plan is for Lue to return in a week. The NBA playoffs begin April 14. 

"We all want great players, we all want the best teams, but with that comes a lot of pressure as well. And what Ty Lue has had to go through this year with that team, with the trades and the injuries and the pressure, it's unrelenting," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "So I hope that he gets healthy and is able to get back in time for the playoffs and help that team win as many games as possible."

Lue spent the second half of Cleveland's victory in Chicago on Saturday in the locker room because of an illness, the second time this season he left a game because he wasn't feeling well. The former NBA guard also sat one out against Chicago at home in December.

Associate head coach Larry Drew coached the second half of Saturday's game, the finale of a six-game, 11-day road trip. Cleveland is back home to host Milwaukee on Monday.

"We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues," general manager Koby Altman said.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford also left his team to address his health this season. He took six weeks off. Medical tests revealed that the 56-year-old Clifford did not have any internal problems, but the doctor's diagnosis was the coach was suffering from severe sleep deprivation.

AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.

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