Celtics

Europe trip a good chance for Celtics to bond

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Europe trip a good chance for Celtics to bond

BOSTON - The Boston Celtics European tour begins this weekend as the team heads overseas to Italy where they'll prepare to play three-time Euroleague Champion and 26-time Italian League Champion Olimpia Milano in Milan on Oct. 6.

Then it's to Spain, where the C's will take on nine-time Euroleague and 32-time Spanish League Champion Real Madrid on Oct. 8.

The games are just another step in the right direction for the NBA as they continue to grow the brand globally. And what better way to do that than to send one of the most famous franchises in the sport there?

Of course it's not the first time the C's have been sent overseas. Who can forget their trip to Rome in 2007, the same year Kevin Garnett and the gang joined the team? Players from that team have pointed to that trip in Italy as a big reason for their close bond throughout the season, leading to their historic run to an NBA championship.

When Garnett and Ray Allen signed, the thought was that it would take the team some time to jell - maybe a season - before they'd win a championship. But the rest of the NBA found out rather quickly that that wasn't the case as the Celtics began the season 29-3.

So how much of that early success was due to being abroad before the season? Brian Scalabrine, who was a member of that championship team and now works for CSN New England, said the trip helped them break down walls that otherwise might have been up during the early points of the season.

"I'll say this: the one thing when you're overseas, more times than not you're not around anybody else," Scalabrine said. "You're not around your family, you're not around your boys, you just got each other. So you go out to dinner every night. But I would think that that team, no matter where we are we would have been close because we had Garnett, [Paul] Pierce, the way those guys are. But for sure, those first seven days in Rome, we got to know each other really well which allowed you to grow on the court because you could fight and have disagreements but you are still going out to eat at night. So I think that's the biggest thing especially when you have a high level of personalities and you're working things out."

The expectations for this year's Celtics team are obviously different than those of the 2007 team. But the trip can still be effective in building bonds between the young players and allowing themselves to become more comfortable around each other.

"You just really lock in to each other and I think you get rid of distractions," Scalabrine said. "People over there don't care as much. You have things to do but you feel a bond because there are no other distractions."

As for how much it will translate into wins? That's to be determined. Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been overseas with multiple teams and has had mixed results in the end.

"I've laughed about that a little bit because I've been on overseas trips with the college teams where you don't have a very good season, and then you come back and you go to the National Championship game," Stevens said. "When we went to the National Championship game we talked about how great it was. I think that the bottom line is that it's a good team bonding experience. The opportunity to improve together and spend time together is a good, positive thing. It's a small piece of a long puzzle."

Plenty of on-the-job training for Celtics' rookies

Plenty of on-the-job training for Celtics' rookies

BOSTON – With all the changes the Celtics went through over the summer, seeing more rookies on the floor this season was a given.
 
But six?
 
Yes, only three games into the season and the Celtics have played more rookies than any team under fifth-year coach Brad Stevens.

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And in the 102-92 victory at Philadelphia on Friday night, the Celtics (1-2) played almost as many first-year players (five) as veterans (six).
 
The youth movement here in Boston has been sped up a bit by the season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward, compounded by a left ankle sprain to Marcus Smart that Smart said won’t keep him out any more than Friday night in Philly.

Even if Smart is back in the Celtics lineup Tuesday night against New York, that doesn’t change the fact that Boston will continue to need rookies to step up and contribute going forward as they did on Friday.
 
And while there’s an old adage about experience being the greatest teacher, Boston’s youngsters are going to have to fast-forward past some of those on-the-floor growing pains for the Celtics to stay among the top teams in the East.
 
“Everybody talks about young players having to learn by going through experience,” said Stevens. “Why don’t we just watch film and learn? Learn from things we can control and in the interim, let’s beat the age thing. Let’s not talk about the age thing. Let’s talk about how we can be better at what we can control and how we can learn and grow every day and expedite the learning curve.
 
Stevens added, “because they are going to get opportunities all the way down the line, let’s not focus on trying to learn from experience; let’s focus on learning from every day and see if we can get a little bit better every day.”
 
The one rookie who has had no problem adjusting to the NBA game early on has been Jayson Tatum.
 
Selected with the third overall pick last June, Tatum has been among the NBA's most productive rookies in this first week of the season.
 
Tatum’s 35.3 minutes played per game is tops among all rookies. His 12.3 points and 9.0 rebounds rank seventh and fourth among his first-year brethren.
 
Stevens loves what he has seen thus far from Tatum, but believes he’s capable of making an even greater impact sooner rather than later.
 
“I like him to shoot it on the catch more,” Stevens said. “Because he has tremendous touch. When he shoots it in rhythm with confidence, the ball finds the net. He’s one of those guys; he’s a natural scorer. But his ability to read the game … he’s very intelligent. It’s been more evident on the defensive end. He’s gonna pick his spots offensively now. But we want him to be aggressive and first and foremost, be a threat to shoot it every time he catches it.
 
Stevens added, “I guess it should feel pretty good when you’re 19 years old and your coach is begging you to shoot it.”
 
How quickly Tatum and the rest of Boston’s youngsters grow into the roles they will be asked to play this season can do nothing but help the Celtics adapt to what has already been a season with major changes needing to be made.
 
“You saw [against Philadelphia], we had Shane [Larkin], we had Guerschon [Yabusele], we had guys coming in that played the game at a high level and we need them to contribute,” said Boston’s Kyrie Irving. “For me to see that and witness that, it makes me nothing but proud and happy to have teammates that are ready to play. It’s not always going to look perfect because we’re still gaining knowledge about one another. But as long as we’re out there competing, having each other’s backs, that’s all that matters.”
 

Kyrie Irving fined $25,000 for his inappropriate language with a fan

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Kyrie Irving fined $25,000 for his inappropriate language with a fan

BOSTON – As expected, the NBA has fined Celtics guard Kyrie Irving $25,000 for using “inappropriate language” toward a fan at the Friday night game in Philadelphia.
 
The incident occurred at halftime as Irving and his teammates were heading to the locker room, trailing by four. Boston went on to win 102-92 for their first victory of the season.
 
A fan yelled, “Hey, where’s LeBron?” to which Irving replied with a lewd suggestion to the yeller.
 
The Celtics practiced on Saturday with Irving addressing the incident.

When asked if he had any regrets about the incident, Irving replied, “Hell no. Man enough to record it on video, that’s on him. I’m glad he got his ad name out there, and his five seconds of fame and it’s gone viral. That’s social media platform we live on.
 
Irving added, “I take full responsibility for what I said. You move on.”
 
When asked about the incident on Saturday, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he had not seen the video but was aware of it.
 
“People make mistakes; hopefully learn from them and move on,” Stevens said. “There’s a right and wrong. And if you’re in the wrong you have to own up to it and that’s that.”

It was the second such fine levied by the league in as many days. 

New Orleans center DeMarcus Cousins was fined $25,000 for "inappropriate language" toward a fan when the Pelicans lost 103-91 at Memphis on Wednesday.