Celtics

Longabardi to be Celtics new defensive assistant

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Longabardi to be Celtics new defensive assistant

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
WESTON Nobody knows when the Boston Celtics -- or any other NBA team -- will resume play. But when the C's do take the court, their defensive play will have a new face for the third straight season.

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers confirmed that Mike Longabardi, who was promoted to bench assistant this summer, will be leading the C's defensive efforts.

The last two coaches in that role were Tom Thibodeau and Lawrence Frank who are now NBA head coaches in Chicago and Detroit, respectively.

"Longo (Longabardi) will be the leader (defensively)," Rivers said shortly before participating in a celebrity golf tournament at the Weston Golf Club.

While Thibodeau and Frank were given much of the credit for the C's defensive success, Rivers said his other assistants will have similar input with Longabardi that they had with his predecessors.

"(Assistant coach) Kevin Eastman was really important for Lawrence and Tibs," Rivers said. "That role won't change much at all."

Having an assistant coach who specializes in offense or defnese is a relatively new concept.

One of the first coaches to do so -- and do it well -- was former Celtic great Larry Bird when he coached the Indiana Pacers.

Bird had former Celtic Rick Carlisle (current head coach of the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks) in charge of his offense, while Dick Harter handled the Pacers defensively.

Rivers has tried to have at least one assistant in charge of the defense, but admits that it has been hit and miss.

"It was something I always wanted to do," Rivers said. "I always thought it was the right thing to do. Having spent a lot of time with the football coaches, you always felt they were ahead of the curve. They either hired an offensive or defensive coordinator. I thought if they do it with the amount of players they have, we should be able to do it with the amount of players we have."

Rivers added, "If you noticed, I changed that position a lot in Orlando and here. I kept looking for the right one. Tibs, for me, was that guy. He loved doing it. That's what he wanted to do. It really allows you to coach the team, so it's really important."

So is staying true to the keys to the C's success in recent years, which begins with strong play defense.

"We pretty much know who we are," Rivers said. "We're not changing much as far as our identity defensively and stuff like that. But there are areas we want to improve on, on offense and defense and we're going to do that."

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

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. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

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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