Celtics

Celtics encouraged by Theis' impressive debut

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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.”

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.”

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