Celtics

The grand experiment

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The grand experiment

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

OK, so let's try and picture what this is going to look like:

I'm guessing that you walk in, and the first thing you see is the largest man in NBA history stretched out in front of two lockers. He'll dominate the room without even trying, but most of the time, he'll try anyways.

To his right, there's the distinguished, shooting guardfuture politician discussing golf, current events or literally anything else you could think of with a hoard of writers. Next to him, Shrek and Donkey are cracking jokes, trying to earn the big man's attention and teaching each other how to Dougie.

Turning the corner you'll have a 6-foot-11, 14-year vet who's fresh off the most embarrassing playoff performance of his career. He was one of the league's premiere big men before punching a fan in Detroit and watching his career unravel. He made 44 million over the last two years, and hardly deserved a fraction, but now he's been thrown back into the spotlight. He's on a legitimate contender, and has all the motivation (and motivators) in the world. And he's still only 32.

And finally, next to him, there's the most intense and complicated psyche on the team. He's the emotional and spiritual leader, but also a guy who'd rather swallow a nail than have his concentration broken by pregame nonsense. He keeps to himself but his presence is always felt. He is intense. Always.

Getting back to the big guy in the middle, to his left you'll have the soon-to-be face of the franchise. A kid who doesn't say much, who hates the off-court attention, but will be asked to take control of these grown men and NBA legends. He needs to establish himself for the present, but also prepare himself for the future, because he knows that the greatness that surrounds him is very temporary. He has a few things to prove after a discouraging (by his standards) performance in the Finals, and his questionable break up with Team USA, but he'll have to do so while catering to the needs of his many fellow stars. He was an All-Star last season, and will have to make it back to establish himself as a legit All-Star not just a one-year wonder.

Next to the point guard is The Captain. This is his house. Despite all the other names they've brought in, he's been here longer than anyone else. This is his city. And he could have never imagined this was possible. It wasn't even five years ago that he was ready to split town and chase a title in Portland or L.A., and now his teammates have made a combined 44 All-star game appearances. Some of the greatest players of all time have come to Boston to join him, and they're a contender every year.

Next to the Captain, is the Enigma; literally, one of the most fascinating characters to ever put on an NBA uniform. He's hilarious. He's tragic. He's some sort of genius. And he's also the perfect role player on a contender; a guy we always felt would fit well within this new championship dynamic. He's a complete wild card and a legendary joker, and, for better or worse (read: MILFs) will add a dynamic that only he can.

Moving along, there's the humble, incumbent center, who now stares across the room at that man in the middle one of his fiercest rivals and a guy who came to Boston with the intention of stealing the center spotlight. When the incumbent busted his knee, he never imagined having to compete for his job, but now that will be the reality, as free agency looms. Next to him is a soft-spoken, accomplished rapper, who's getting a do-over after a season so horrible it could have knocked him out of the league. Lastly, we've got two kids from Texas and Notre Dame looking around, wondering how the hell they got here.

And that about does no, wait.

Let's not forget the man who was so close to not being there at all. Of course, he decided to give it one more go around, and this is his reward. An unprecedented combination of personality, pride, skill and psychosis. A human experiment if you've ever see one:

The 2010-11 Boston Celtics.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Kyrie practices, expected to be back Sunday

Kyrie practices, expected to be back Sunday

WALTHAM, Mass. – Kyrie Irving was able to participate in all of Celtics practice on Saturday and is expected to be back on the floor when the C's host the Orlando Magic on Sunday.

Irving did not play in an 89-80 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday because of soreness in his left shoulder.

MORE CELTICS:

He will continue to receive treatments for the shoulder, “but I’m just ready to go back out there and play,” Irving said. “I’ve had a few days to reset and do the things needed to put myself in a great position to go out there and play.”

Irving said earlier that the shoulder had been bothering him for a couple weeks and an overtime loss to New Orleans on Tuesday didn’t help matters.

Still just 25 but recently named to his fifth All-Star team, Irving’s return could not come at a better time for the Celtics.

Boston (34-12) has the best record in the Eastern Conference, but the C's are riding a two-game losing streak, which is only the third time this season they've lost back-to-back games.

Arguably Boston’s biggest issue in the loss to the Sixers was an offense that struggled in several phases.

Not having Irving available certainly made matters worse, but there were a number of elements of play that with Irving or not, coach Brad Stevens recognizes his team must make a significant improvement in if they are to remain among the top teams in the NBA.

Stevens talked extensively after the loss and again on Saturday about the team not playing hard enough on offense.

“I don’t want to take away from the teams we’re playing against. They’re really guarding us hard,” Stevens said. “But we’ve got to execute harder. The one thing that’s pretty obvious in person and when you watch on film, is we just didn’t play hard enough on offense which is kind of unique. That’s the way I felt.”

Irving said there needs to be an increase in emphasis on their offense, which would make the game easier for everyone.

“Our spacing, our cutting … just playing the game kind of within the game, understanding our talents and where we can make the game easier,” Irving said. “We have very unique talents on this team. When you’re trying to put that together and guys are coming back into the lineup and getting their rhythm still and guys are in and out sometimes … big picture, down the stretch, we’re going to need everyone to be on the same page.”

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Celtics sign Jarrell Eddie to 10-day contract

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Celtics sign Jarrell Eddie to 10-day contract

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics have signed Jarell Eddie to a 10-day contract.

The 6-foot-7 forward, who has spent two seasons in the NBA with Washington and Phoenix, has appeared in 31 NBA games.

More recently, he played with the Gatorade League’s Windy City Bulls. Appearing in 10 games, Eddie, 26, averaged 17.2 points while shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 50.7 percent from 3-point range along with 4.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

He will wear jersey No. 9.