Celtics

Downs showing why Celtics brought him to camp

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Downs showing why Celtics brought him to camp

HARTFORD -- There was no mistaking the anger, frustration and disappointment on Micah Downs' face as his potential go-ahead basket late in the game hit the back of the rim and bounced out in Boston's overtime loss to the New York Knicks on Saturday.

It was a game that won't matter much in terms of how the Boston Celtics will fare this season.

But for the Celtics coaching staff, it was their first look at Downs over an extended period of time.

And although the outcome certainly wasn't what Downs or the C's would have liked, he did show glimpses of the potential that made him a last-minute addition to the training camp roster.

"I have to earn my stripes," Downs told CSNNE.com. "Just being ready and take advantage of your opportunities. That's your lifeline."

Being among the handful of players in camp without a fully guaranteed contract, Downs knows every chance to impress can not be taken for granted.

And even with the late-game miss, Downs showed some of the qualities that made him a player Danny Ainge really wanted to add to the C's training-camp roster.

To Downs' credit, he made the most of his extended action during the preseason on Saturday with a game-high tying seven rebounds in just under 14 minutes.

"He's a good player," Ainge told CSNNE.com earlier. "He might seem like a mystery to some people, but not to us. He was one of the top players in the country when he came out of high school, so we've known about Micah Downs for quite some time."

A 6-foot-8 wing forward, Downs was a 2005 McDonald's All-American, a class that included current NBA players such as Monta Ellis (Milwaukee), Amir Johnson (Toronto), Martell Webster (Washington), Louis Williams (Atlanta) and former Celtic Gerald Green.

After signing with Kansas, Downs would later transfer to Gonzaga, where he had a solid but not spectacular career.

Since then, he has played in Croatia, Belgium and Spain, in addition to being part of NBA summer league squads in Dallas, Milwaukee and Phoenix.

Downs said he was planning to go back overseas, but decided to put that on hold to see if there was an NBA team willing to bring him in for training camp.

Soon after, his agent got a call from the Celtics.

"I hadn't done an NBA training camp, and I'm 26 years old," said Downs, who added that he had a workout in Boston earlier this summer. "Boston called and said, 'Hey, come on. We'd love to have you.' So here I am."

And while Downs' chances of sticking with the Celtics beyond training camp are still slim, he has no regrets about participating in the C's training camp which included games in Turkey and Italy last week.

"It's a great opportunity, a real fun experience playing at this level," Downs said. "It's my first time playing at this level. There's summer league but these preseason games, people are dialing in, figuring out their stuff; just being out here is a great opportunity and I am really thankful for it. I'm having a really good time."

But Downs is wise enough to know that he could get cut at any moment, which is why plan B will be to play with a team overseas.

"For sure, without a doubt," said Downs whose athletic, above-the-rim brand of basketball served him well last year in Spain. "That's always in the back of your mind. especially a guy like me that doesn't have a 3-year guaranteed deal or a 5-year guaranteed deal."

He has other things on his mind well; namely, his 5-month old son Isaiah.

"Yeah, just had my first kid, I'm married. I'm out here grinding, doing what I can to make the team and just prove I can play at this level," Downs said. "But if I don't make the team, that'll earn me some more respect and maybe a couple more dollars if I have to go back overseas. Just another thing to put on my resume."

Now, it gets real for revamped Celtics

Now, it gets real for revamped Celtics

CLEVELAND – For the Celtics, the preseason went about as well as expected.
 
No serious, long-term injuries.

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They won every preseason game, even one in which the team’s second unit played the role of starters.
 
And the chemistry concerns with so many new players, while very real, didn’t seem to be that big an issue.
 
Still, as good as the Celtics may feel about where they stand, they know it means absolutely nothing unless they get it done against elite, NBA-caliber competition.
 
The Cleveland Cavaliers.
 
Opening night.
 
It doesn’t get much more challenging than that.
 
And for the Celtics, win or lose, this is going to be a game for them to build upon going forward this season.
 
“I’m just ready to get going,” said Gordon Hayward. “A lot of things have happened this summer, a lot of buildup. I’m ready to get to the game. It’s going to be a fun matchup, for sure.”
 
Among the summer happenings was Boston and Cleveland pulling off one of the biggest blockbuster deals of the offseason with the Cavs trading Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic while also conveying Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick and Miami’s 2020 second-round pick to complete the deal.
 
Having spent his first six seasons with the Cavaliers, there’s a certain amount of corporate knowledge that the 25-year-old Irving brings to tonight’s matchup.
 
“I know a lot about them, they know a lot about me,” Irving said. “There’s plenty of film on all of us, but specifically going back and understanding the way we played last year when I played with them and now how they’re playing with the new guys, understanding how to implement themselves into their new system plus me implementing myself into this system...There’s definitely some benefits on our end, there are some benefits on their end. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
 
Part of the challenge for the Celtics will be developing the kind of on-court cohesion to be successful, which is easier said than done when you’re talking about getting nearly a dozen players on the same page in just a few weeks.
 
“We have good chemistry as a group,” said Al Horford. “We still have a ways to go as far as keep getting comfortable with each other and keep figuring out our spots. But we feel good with what we have. Our young guys, it’s been remarkable how quickly they’ve been able to come along and be up to date with everything. And our new guys as well. They’re up to date, they know what we need to do. They understand the game plan. It’s been good.”
 
Players aren’t the only ones eager to get to tonight’s game.
 
“To have to go into Cleveland with that level of intensity, with that level of attention, distraction, etc. is great,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It’s great to experience that in game one, a tremendous learning experience for our group, so we’re preparing to play as well as we can. And we know that they’re really, really good. But this is..I’m looking forward to it because I want to find out where we are.”
 

'People took it the wrong way,' Isaiah says of his Ainge comments

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'People took it the wrong way,' Isaiah says of his Ainge comments

Isaiah Thomas told Sports Illustrated last week that he "might never talk to Danny [Ainge] again." And he sounded pretty bitter about his trade from the Celtics to the Cavs.

Now, on the "Road Trippin" podcast with new teammate Channing Frye and ex-Cav Richard Jefferson, Thomas, who is out until at least January with a hip injury, said those comments were misunderstood.

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“People took it the wrong way,” Thomas said. “I understand the business, I understand that we’re in position to get traded and sent to other teams and things like that. It’s just how it went down that I didn’t respect. As a man, I feel like if you respected me as much as you say you did, you would have at least informed me about what was going on before it happened. And that’s all I was talking about.

“I’m not tripping off the trade like I got traded to the Cavs and we’re going to win a championship. And at the end of the day, I’m going to be fine with that,” Thomas said. “[Ainge] sent me to an even better situation with a bigger platform. I’m blessed to be in the position, I’m grateful and I’m excited.”

The Cavs host the Celtics tonight in the season opener. 

Jae Crowder, who came to Cleveland from Boston, was also on the podcast and when Frye talked with him about players deserving communication from the front office, Thomas could be heard in the background, saying, “That’s what I’m talking about.”

“I already said what I’m doing," Thomas told Crowder about what he'll do should he run into Ainge. "I’m going to keep it pushing like he kept pushing when he traded me, I’m not going to disrespect him. He’s a man and I’m a man, too. Like, I’m going to go my way. I play for the Cavaliers and that’s what it is.”