Celtics

Milicic to do 'whatever it takes' to help Celts . . . and rehab his reputation

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Milicic to do 'whatever it takes' to help Celts . . . and rehab his reputation

WALTHAM As Darko Milicic saunters on to the practice court, he doesn't have the swagger of a guy who was the No. 2 overall pick in a superstar-rich 2003 draft class. He's not the kid who couldn't beat out a couple of past-their-prime journeymen in Dale Davis or Elden Campbell, either.

All the things of the past that seemed to weigh Milicic down, appear to have dissipated -- for now, at least.

Reliving the past doesn't do Milicic any good. Living in the past? That's even worse.

"I'm done trying to prove I'm the No. 2 pick and that expletive stuff," Milicic told CSNNE.com. "This year, it's all about Celtics, to show that I am a team player. It's not about me. It's about us as a team.

Milicic added: "I'll do whatever it takes, whatever I need to do to help this team. So now, if I have to go kill someone on the court, I'll kill someone on the court."

Uh, just grab a few rebounds, maybe block a shot or two and defend.

Basketball homicide not required.

"Whatever needs to be done for the team to be better," Milicic added, "I'll do it."

As he stands towering over a reporter, Milic's growth physically is apparent.

A skinny teenager when he came into the NBA after being selected by the Detroit Pistons, Milicic isn't pushed around quite as easily.

Today, he's a 275-pound 7-footer who isn't afraid to deliver a foul.

During the 2010-11 season, Milicic averaged 3.32 personal fouls while appearing in 69 games. Only five players in the NBA that season had a higher fouls-per-game average while appearing in as many games.

His growth maturity-wise, remains a mystery.

It has been an issue with every team he has played for, including the Minnesota Timberwolves, who waived him via the league's amnesty rule this past summer.

The move was made to free up salary cap space to pursue other free agents. Salary cap space or not, getting rid of Milicic was a priority for Minnesota once the season ended.

"At the end of the year, Rick Adelman, Minnesota's head coach gives me a report of what he thinks of each player," Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor told Twin Cities Business magazine. "He tells me it's the same one he gave David Kahn, Minnesota's GM and that David knows he is giving it to me. Then he goes through the list. He says, 'This is the first one I want gone' - that was (underachieving veteran center) Darko."

Even before that, discontent with Milicic was apparent.

He hasnt done anything to really give you a lot of faith that hes going to go out and do the job, Adelman said of Milicic in March. Hes gotten himself out of shape. He hasnt been as driven as youd like so when a situation like this happens, its time for someone to have their opportunity and get back in there."

Milicic's fall from grace was unexpected considering how he played in 2010-11 season. He appeared in 69 games (all starts) and averaged a career-high 8.8 points to go with 2.03 blocks, which ranked fifth in the NBA.

An injury early in the 2011-12 season sidelined him. From there, things only got worse.
His playing time went from little to non-exist.

After starting the first 18 games, Milicic appeared in just 11 more games all season.

"I was trying to find answers," Milicic said. "Nikola Pekovic, he started playing well. I wasn't asking about starting. I wanted to ask about why I wasn't playing at all. I hear a lot of this and that . . . I was like, 'If you guys going to fool around and make excuses' . . . we kind of separated from each other."

So the eventual parting was one in which both sides clearly felt was necessary.

"We didn't have good communication," Milicic said. "That's what happens."

And so there lies another chapter in the book on Milicic that doesn't have a happy ending.
Which raises the question: Why should anyone think things will be different here in Boston?

For starters, Milicic doesn't have nearly as bright a spotlight on him now as he has had with previous teams.

Just as interest in him has waned off significantly, so have expectations. Teams see him now as a 27-year-old NBA veteran who, with the right team, might be able to contribute.

At least, that's what Boston is hoping for.

"He has size," said coach Doc Rivers. "He has skill in a lot of areas. I think he can help us."

And if it doesn't work out, it's a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum, which is a small price to pay for the potential benefits of having Milicic on the roster.

Regardless of whether he plays a prominent role off the bench or is limited to spot duty, Mililic should benefit from the time he spends playing with and practicing against Kevin Garnett.

"That's going to be good," Milicic said. "It's good when you have somebody pushing you to your limit. Those guys have experience playing in the finals, going deep into the playoffs. That's what they have in mind. They don't think about losing; they think about winning a championship, especially this year. All these guys are getting old now. They're looking forward to winning one or two more championships. I'm here now to help them, whatever it takes."

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

The Boston Celtics trail by double digits. The Celtics rally to make it relatively close by halftime. Boston continues to gain ground in the third, pull it out in the fourth.

Rinse. Recycle. Repeat.

That has been the Celtics’ mantra this season, with the latest chapter in their comeback narrative being a 110-99 win at Atlanta.

“We need to put an emphasis on playing with space and getting the ball to the other side of the floor,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It just stuck too much early on. We were staring at some post-ups that if we got it to the other side, maybe you could take advantage of.”

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Boston (15-2) fell behind by as many as 16 points against the Hawks (3-13), the second straight game the Celtics have rallied from a double-digit deficit.

In Boston’s 92-88 win over Golden State on Thursday, the Celtics fell behind by as many as 17 before rallying for their most impressive win of the season.

That said, it still shouldn’t take away from what happened on Saturday against an Atlanta team that despite their record, has shown signs of playing better in their recent games.

Players are aware of the penchant they’ve shown thus far for falling behind only to mount a furious comeback for the win.

“We don’t try to (go down early),” said Kyrie Irving following Saturday’s win which extended their winning streak to 15 straight which is the fifth-longest streak in franchise history. “Some teams, they go on runs and whether that be us giving up some easy ones or giving up some turnovers or doing things we can correct. When we do correct them, it turns into a different game.”

And that is what makes this stretch of play so impressive.

The Celtics have not played a full game; instead they have had stretches of good play that have often masked their mistakes early in the game.

That’s why head coach Brad Stevens, obviously pleased with the team’s success, knows as well as anyone that his team has to become more consistent in their play if they are to get the most out of these wins and continue to build off of them and achieve their ultimate goal – getting back to the NBA Finals.

“We’re going to keep playing,” Stevens said. “But the biggest thing is, we can’t keep digging these holes.”

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Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

When it comes to the top backcourts in the NBA, you seldom hear about Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown.

That may soon be changing if they have more games like the one they delivered on Saturday as Boston put together a solid second half to pull away from the Atlanta Hawks, 110-99.

Irving had a game-high 30 points which was his second game with at least 30 points scored – both against Atlanta.

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And Brown, who had a strong 22-point performance in Boston’s win over Golden State on Thursday, was even better against the Hawks in tallying a career-high 27 points.

We all know about Irving who has established himself as one of the NBA’s top guards.

But is Brown on the way?

One thing Brown won’t have to develop going forward is, confidence.

He has long maintained that he believes he’ll be among the best in the league. It’s just a matter of him performing at a high level at both ends of the floor, consistently.

“I’ve always had that confidence, I can play with the best in the world,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin following the win over Atlanta which extended Boston’s winning streak to 15 in a row. “It’s just a matter of coming out, doing it. My teammates found me tonight. We had a good team win tonight.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-99 win at Atlanta which extended the Celtics’ winning streak to 15 in a row which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.

 

STARS

Jaylen Brown

Back in his home state of Georgia, Jaylen Brown delivered another monster game for the Celtics by scoring a career-high 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting with four 3-pointers.

Kyrie Irving

Irving had his most efficient game this season for the Celtics, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting to go with four rebounds and five assists.

Dennis Schroder

Atlanta’s best scorer delivering a strong 23-point, 9-assist performance for the Hawks.

 

STUDS

Jayson Tatum

He only had 14 points, but they all came in the third quarter and they included a few crowd-quieting dunks.

John Collins

He came into the league with the reputation of being a high motor player, and he has not disappointed. His hustle and energy led to him tallying 18 points and seven rebounds.

Marcus Morris

When the offense struggled mightily in the first half, it was Morris’ scoring that kept them within striking distance. He finished with 14 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter.

Kent Bazemore

He was Atlanta’s number two scoring option most of the night, and finished with 19 points.

 

DUDS

Boston’s first quarter defense

The Celtics can’t keep digging themselves these early holes, expecting they will turn it on and find a way to climb out of them. The Hawks led 35-20, fueled in large part by shooting 64.7 percent (11-for-17) in addition to out-rebounding Boston 8-6.

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