'Lockout league' rosters under scrutiny


'Lockout league' rosters under scrutiny

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn LAS VEGAS With a slew of logistical issues to hammer out in time for today's first game of the Impact Basketball Training Series, putting the actual rosters together was one of the bigger hurdles to overcome.

NBA players know their brethren better than anyone.

"Don't kid yourself if you didn't think we got some complaints about the roster," Joe Abunassar, the founder of Impact Basketball, told CSNNE.com.

Abunassar did solicit input from the players, but ultimately made the final decision on the rosters.

As expected, there were certain players in higher demand than others.

Most of the teams wanted to make sure they had solid point guard play, which is why former Celtics guard Chauncey Billups and Houston guard Kyle Lowry were among the players teams had the most interest in.

That interest played a factor in Abunassar's decision, but he said he was more concerned with having each team have a certain amount of balance.

"We have to have matchups. If we're really making this a training league, it's all about the matchups," Abunassar said.

Abunassar added, "Kawhi Leonard (a first-round pick out of San Diego State from June's NBA draft) will get a chance to guard a guy like Stephen Jackson, or a guy who has been in the league two or three years. For him, it's an upgraded summer league."

Former Celtics guard Damon Jones, among the first players at Impact Basketball League Monday morning, likes the competitive balance of the league.

"Every team has good players," he told CSNNE.com. "It'll be a good time, good basketball for all of us."

Abunassar must also deal with rosters that are constantly in a state of uncertainty.

For example, Phoenix Suns forward Hakim Warrick isn't expected to play tonight so Abunassar has to find another power forward to take his place on the roster.

Plus, there are other players who aren't expected to come in until next week, while others are re-vamping their schedules to come in this week which means Abunassar has to make sure to put them on a roster where their position is needed.

However, there were some players who made putting the teams together easy.

Mo Williams, now with the Los Angeles Clippers, has put together a team that consists of his Clipper teammates -- including rookie of the Year, Blake Griffin.

The Washington Wizards have a number of players competing here as well, such as Rashard Lewis, Nick Young and Jordan Crawford.

There's a reason why NBA commissioner David Stern doesn't double-dip as the league's schedule maker. But Abunassar isn't complaining; not at all.

"The team selection was not the easiest in the world," Abunassar admitted. "Believe me, after dealing with 75 guys for the last two days and coordinating, I'll need a vacation when we're all done."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Celtics get off to strong start, cruise to 118-103 win over Magic

Celtics get off to strong start, cruise to 118-103 win over Magic

BOSTON – Well, so much for the Boston Celtics being hungover following their first loss in more than a month.
If anything, the loss at Miami on Wednesday served as a wake-up call for the Celtics to avoid easing their way into games.
Because the Celtics jumped on the Magic early and never lost control of the game as they cruised to a 118-103 win.

Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 30 points while Terry Rozier came off the Celtics bench to score a career-high 23 points. Nikola Vucevic led the Magic (8-11) with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds.
After leading by as many as 32 points, the Magic opened the fourth quarter against Boston’s backups, with a 13-3 run that cut Boston’s lead to 102-82.
The Magic would score six of the game’s next eight points before Rozier drained a much-needed 3-pointer that increased Boston’s lead to 107-88 with 6:48 to play.
Following an Orlando timeout, Boston continued to play with a huge lead and in doing so, got a big, bounce-back win.
One of the issues Boston was having, even during the 16-game winning streak, was that they didn’t get off to the greatest starts evident by them trailing by double digits in the first half of each of their previous four games prior to tonight’s game.
But that would not be the case tonight; not even close actually.
Leading 22-19 in the first, Boston went on an 18-7 run to take a commanding 40-26 lead
The 40 points scored were the most they tallied in the first quarter of a game this season.
And while the points weren’t as abundant in the second quarter, Boston’s dominance was just as great.
On this night, the Celtics were an equal opportunity destroyer.
Kyrie Irving had a very Kyrie Irving kind of night with 17 points in the first half.
The Celtics also got an unexpected boost from its bench, led by Rozier who had 13 points in the first half.
It seemed no matter who Brad Stevens turned to off the bench, it was a given that they would have a positive impact on this night.
Meanwhile, the Magic could muster up little fight or resistance as Boston’s lead peaked at 28 points (68-40) before the half ended with Boston in charge with a commanding 73-47 lead.
It’s rare for a team to have such a commanding halftime lead, the kind of lead that makes a team oh-so-vulnerable to a second-half letup.
Not the Celtics; not tonight at least.
Boston continued to play with a purpose; to not just win but do so in an emphatic, consistently dominant fashion.
Sporting a lead of 20-plus points throughout the third quarter, Boston went into the fourth quarter leading 99-69.


Morris returns to Celtics starting lineup vs. Magic


Morris returns to Celtics starting lineup vs. Magic

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics will turn to a familiar starting lineup as they try to get back on their winning ways following Wednesday’s loss at Miami.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Marcus Morris will be in the starting lineup tonight against Orlando, joining the usual Celtics foursome of Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford.


Morris’ availability tonight was not a given, similar to it being in question prior to Wednesday’s game against the Heat.
Morris has been dealing with soreness in his left knee which kept him out for the first eight games of the season and has limited his playing time since then.
Stevens said Morris will likely not play against Indiana on Saturday but no final decision has been made. Since returning to the lineup, the Celtics have played Morris with a minutes restriction in addition to not allowing him to play in any back-to-back games.

Morris has made it clear that he does not like having his playing time limited while not playing in any back-to-backs, but has repeatedly he understands why it is being done and won’t fight what the coaching and medical staff believe is best for him and the team.