Celtics

Irving on Celtics debut: 'I just can't wait to get back out there'

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Irving on Celtics debut: 'I just can't wait to get back out there'

BOSTON -- This time of year, there's a learning curve that all players on all teams must go through -- even Kyrie Irving, one of the more decorated 25-year-olds you'll find in the NBA.

Not only is he dealing with the usual getting-to-know-his-new teammates, but the four-time All-Star is adjusting to a new team, a new coaching philosophy and with it, a fan base that's unlike any other in the NBA.
 
And while he has only been a Boston Celtic for a few weeks, he has been a quick study as to how to quickly ingratiate himself to the fans.
 
During a panel hosted by NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin at the end of Boston's open practice on Sunday, Irving got the crowd going by starting a "Let's Go Cel-tics!" chant.
 
He and the rest of the Celtics hope to give their fans even more to cheer about tonight as they kick off their preseason slate of games at home against the Charlotte Hornets.
 
Part of the process of getting ready for the season is understanding that as important as every day can be to improvement, there's a balance that has to be struck between that and not overdoing things.
 
That's why earlier this week, Irving had a "maintenance" day where he did very little in practice.
 
While this is a new season, Irving and the Celtics are mindful of the fact that he has been to the NBA Finals each of the last three seasons. Those are the kinds of deep playoff runs that can gradually wear a player down unnecessarily over time.
 
I asked Irving about whether he's changed his preseason routine to better prepare for playing into late May and June.
 
"You just get smarter and become more efficient as to what workouts you're doing on a day-to-day basis," Irving said. "My focus level, as high as it is on the floor, it's the same as it is, off. So, just loving my body, giving it what it deserves, giving it great fuel and making sure I'm doing a great job of leading every single day."
 
There's another benefit to the preseason and it speaks to Irving's efforts to better display his leadership skills, which will be on full display this season with the Celtics.
 
As impressive as Irving has been throughout his time in the NBA, his ability to make those around him better will be a topic of discussion all season and just as important, a key to Boston having the kind of season so many envision them having.
 
And those lessons begin tonight.
 
He acknowledges one of his favorite parts of the preseason is seeing how his first-year teammates handle proven NBA players on opposing teams.
 
"The preseason is always their first time being around NBA talent for a constant amount of minutes, consistently over the game," Irving said. "Summer League is great, playing against guys in the summer is great, but now you have the sole intent to do everything possible to win a basketball game. So it changes, the dynamics change, the knowledge heightens up a little bit."
 
And rest assured, folks.
 
Irving will be ready.
 
"I just can't wait to get back out there," he says with a smile before adding, "and re-acclimate myself to NBA basketball games."

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Jayson Tatum vs. Markelle Fultz debate

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Jayson Tatum vs. Markelle Fultz debate

0:41 - Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions on the Celtics getting their first win of the season and a comparison between Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving in the 4th quarter.

7:17 - Phil Perry joins BST to break down the tale of the tape between the Falcons and the Patriots as he breaks down the quarterbacks, offense, defense, coaching, and intangibles between the two teams.

11:57 - Our crew on BST discuss number 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz and number 3 overall pick Jayson Tatum going up against each other and debate who seems like the better pick so far. 

16:35 - In this segment of Irrelevant Questions, Tom Curran interviews Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett as he asks him a bunch of random questions. 

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Larkin rises to occasion, says he's ready when Celtics call his number

Larkin rises to occasion, says he's ready when Celtics call his number

PHILADELPHIA – Near the end of a preseason game against Charlotte, Boston Celtics guard Shane Larkin was killin’ the Hornets with pick-and-roll action.

It was a preseason game that at the time, didn’t seem to have much value other than to get some of the end-of-the-bench guys a little run up and down the court.

But as it turned out, Larkin's play in that game was one of those things head coach Brad Stevens tucked away, knowing at some point he would count on Larkin to provide similar play in a regular season game.

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Well, that game was Friday night at Philadelphia, a game in which several players for Boston stepped their games up in helping the Celtics get their first win of the season, 102-92.

But you would be hard-pressed to find a bigger game-changer for the Celtics in this game, than Larkin.

He finished with 10 points off the bench, eight of which came in the decisive fourth quarter when the Celtics rallied from five-down to get a hard-fought, much-needed victory.

“You have to always be ready for your name to be called, especially when you have injuries,” Larkin said. “You never know whose night it’s gonna be.”

Boston was playing without Marcus Smart who suffered a left ankle sprain in their 108-100 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday. Smart was in the starting lineup having replaced Gordon Hayward who underwent left ankle surgery and is expected to be out for the remainder of this season.

“When coach (Stevens) called my name, I had to go out there and be aggressive, play my game,” Larkin said. “And it worked in our favor.”

And while Stevens had watched Larkin play prior to the Celtics signing him this summer, it was a preseason game against Charlotte that really convinced him that the 5-foot-11 guard could help when called upon.

“You’re always watching,” Stevens said. “And if you remember that exhibition game, he finished out that Charlotte game, just running simple spread pick-and-rolls. He’s such a handful with his speed and quickness, and he allows other guys to play off of him. He’s a small guy, but he makes up for it with his speed and skill.”

Al Horford benefited more than any other Celtic with Larkin’s pick-and-roll play which factored into Horford scoring nine of his 17 points in the fourth.

“Shane is a player who understands the game and for us, it was me trying to set a good screen for him and having him make a play,” Horford said. “He just made the right reads, when to shoot it, when to pass it. He just looked very comfortable in that position.”

And to think that Larkin’s big game came about in part because of how well he performed in a preseason matchup against the Hornets.

“I did not know it was that specific game,” Larkin said. “But whenever I step on the court I try to do my best. That’s offensively, defensively, and do what the team needs me to do.

Larkin added, “Whenever my number is called, if he (Stevens) calls it again, I hope he does. I’ll be ready to go out there and do it again.”

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