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


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."


Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

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Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas back in green? Maybe there's a chance after all.

The former Celtics guard, now with the Lakers, started a Q&A session on Twitter and was asked whether he'd consider returning to Boston this offseason. This was his answer...

That's not a no.

Thomas has had a rough go of it since leaving the Celtics. His brief tenure in Cleveland didn't go according to plan, and things haven't gotten a whole lot better out in L.A. The 29-year-old is averaging 15.3 points per game just a year after averaging 28.9 with Boston.

Let the speculation begin.


Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Al Horford understands that there’s plenty of blame pie to go around following Boston’s 108-89 loss to New Orleans. 

Considering how Pelicans stud Anthony Davis dominated the game on so many levels Sunday night, Horford was quick to acknowledge his role in the loss. 

“[Davis] was able to get behind our defense a lot,” Horford told reporters after the loss. “Some mistakes on my end; gotta give him credit. He dominated tonight. I’ll definitely take the blame for that.”

Davis finished with a double-double of 34 points and 11 rebounds, a total that would have been higher if not for the game being so lopsided which allowed Davis to head to the bench early in the fourth. 

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And Horford’s struggles defensively were just as problematic on offense as the five-time All-Star tallied just six points on 3-for-11 shooting to go with four rebounds and three assists. 

Boston has been a team whose collective sums have fueled their success. 

But Horford understands he has to be a high impact performer, a job that’s even more vital when key starters like Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) and Jaylen Brown (concussion) are out as well as top reserves Marcus Smart (right thumb) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus). 

And by Horford’s own admission, he just didn’t bring it on Sunday at a level to give him and the Celtics a legit shot at winning the game.

“Defensively we had too many breakdowns,” Horford said. “And the game got away from us in the second half. So there’s no excuses. I didn’t give us a chance, either; missing a lot of looks offensively. I just need to be better.”

And he’ll have to be if Boston (47-23) is to get back on track with a win on Tuesday against a talented Oklahoma City squad led by Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. 

At full strength, the Thunder would be a significant challenge for the Celtics. 

But having a roster with a number of key players out with injuries, it becomes even more imperative for Boston’s top players to elevate their play. 

And as you scan this Celtics roster and examine those who are healthy enough to play, it’s clear that Horford more than any other Boston player, has to find a way to become more impactful.

Certainly, more points and rebounds would help. 

But as we’ve seen time and time again with Horford, often his greatest contributions to winning games don’t necessarily show up in the final box score. 

That being said, a six-point, four-rebound game doesn’t cut it. 

Horford has to be better, something he knows better than anyone. 

“I’ll definitely look at the film and see how I can be better individually,” Horford said. “The good thing about the NBA, is we have a chance to play on Tuesday. Hopefully we’ll learn from this game and be ready to go Tuesday at home.”