Celtics

Elements in place, time for Irving, Hayward to let chemistry begin

Elements in place, time for Irving, Hayward to let chemistry begin

BOSTON – Gordon Hayward rattled off a slew of commonalities between himself and new teammate Kyrie Irving, which includes both having the same March 23 birthday.
 
But what might have gotten lost in the conversation, was the in-the-moment chit-chat the two players had at the podium, which included both asking the other who should talk with Irving encouraging Hayward to take the lead.

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It may not mean much in the grand scheme of what this team’s goals will be this season – to be better from one day to the next and, in the end, compete for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
 
Still, it does speak to some degree about how both players understand both on and off the court, the importance of being on the same page.
 
That will be sorted out later this month when training camp starts, a time for both players to jell with one another as well as their new teammates.
 
But make no mistake about it.
 
At they join a new team filled with young players, there’s no guarantee things will click immediately.
 
And guess who’ll get the blame when that happens?
 
“It’s the ownership’s fault when it goes badly,” quipped Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca.
 
Said Hayward: “We’ve been in this league long enough to realize that it’s like that at a lot of places. What’s special about here, they seem like they’re pretty educated sports fans here. So they know a little bit more.”
 
And then he explained his approach which – no shocker here – sounded a lot like Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who also coached Hayward at Butler University.
 
“For me, I never try to get too high on the highs, too low on the lows because it can change quickly either way,” Hayward said. “I try to not look at outside people think; we look inside the locker room, we believe in ourselves and keep it moving from there.”
 
Irving, whose request for a trade from Cleveland went public in July, will likely have a different set of expectations on him than his teammates or the man he’s replacing in the lineup, Isaiah Thomas.
 
Because he was looking to play more of a leading man’s role and get out from under the enormous shadow cast by LeBron James, there will those who will look to him to carry a significant part of the load this season for the Celtics.
 
“Is there ever such a thing as one person carrying a whole team? I don’t think so,” Irving said. “When you have a collection of individuals and you all have one goal, and collectively getting better every single day, there are a lot of moving parts. You have to depend on those moving parts to do their job to their ultimate ability that only they do know. It’s our job to bring out the best in one another every single day. That’s been echoed throughout this entire organization as well as the players, and the tradition that’s here in Boston. There is no one player. There’s some very special talent. But the team’s get remembered more than the players, even though you do have some Hall of Famers here.
 
A grinning Irving added, “a few. A few numbers retired in those rafters. The appreciation goes a lot deeper because of that team atmosphere.”
 
And that atmosphere will only be enhanced with these two getting on the same page sooner rather than later as their journey towards Banner 18 begins now.

Ojeleye gets starting nod for Celtics in Game 5 vs Bucks

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Ojeleye gets starting nod for Celtics in Game 5 vs Bucks

BOSTON – Semi Ojeleye has been one of the Boston Celtics’ better defenders on Giannis Antetokounmpo, and that effort was rewarded with his first NBA start. 

Ojeleye, drafted by the Celtics in the second round of last June’s NBA draft, joined a Celtics starting unit that included Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford.

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Stevens: Marcus Smart 'feeling great,' will play in Game 5

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Stevens: Marcus Smart 'feeling great,' will play in Game 5

BOSTON — Barring an unexpected setback, all indications are that Marcus Smart will make his postseason debut tonight against Milwaukee.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Smart did some 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 work following Boston’s morning shoot-around and came out of it “feeling great.”
 
Smart has been out with a surgically repaired right thumb injury since March.
 
“He hasn’t played in six weeks, so it’s hard to say how much (time he will get) but will certainly play,” Stevens said.
 
Stevens said there would not be a minutes restriction on him, but added that the fourth-year guard wasn’t going to play 35 minutes.
 
Smart averaged 29.9 minutes in 54 games played this season, along with 10.2 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds.
 
Even before Stevens acknowledged Smart would play tonight, the Bucks began planning for him to play as soon as Smart's status went from being “out” to “questionable” on Monday. 
 
“We know how he plays, we know how he plays within their system,” said Milwaukee interim head coach Joe Prunty. “He’ll definitely add an element for them. If he does play, we’re prepared for that.”
 
In an interview with NBC Sports Boston, Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton made it clear that the Bucks weren’t going to treat Smart any different, knowing he hasn’t played in nearly six weeks. 
 
“He’s still been working,” Middleton told NBC Sports Boston. “You can’t disrespect him just because he hasn’t played in a while. You have to play him like he’s been playing all year long or this whole series, which is, get after him some too.”
 
Bucks center Thon Maker added, “He does a good job for them at both ends of the floor, by defending and on offense, moving the ball, facilitate a lot on the offensive end for them. With us, we have to find a way to match his energy if he does play tonight.”