Celtics

Powe happy he chose Grizzlies

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Powe happy he chose Grizzlies

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - Leon Powe is one of the NBAs nice guys.

From his personal success story of thriving out of the foster care system to his professional success story of bouncing back from injury upon injury, Powe has displayed resiliency with a firm dedication and a warm smile on his face.

In spite of all the feel-good stories in the league, though, basketball is still a business, not a game of emotions. There comes a point when its time to think with your head and not your heart. That time arrived for Powe this season.

After finding himself riding the bench for the majority of the season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was time for a change of scenery. The organization waived Powe in February, making him available to join another team.

He immediately thought of the Boston Celtics.

This was the team that had given him his first start and the city that embraced his relentless effort. Two years after signing with the Cavaliers, he still had high regard for the Celtics' organization, as well as an appreciation for the fans who played such a big role in the Celtics' NBA championships.

"Ill be happy wherever I end up, but Boston is always holding a special place in my heart," Powe told CSNNE.com shortly after being waived. "The fans were so good to me, everybody up there was so nice, and it would be a great thing to return back to the Celtics if I could."

Even though Celtics always appreciated Powes efforts during his time in green, there were all those nagging injuries that plagued him throughout his career. The team needed to win now -- and with all the healthy bodies they could get. Powe had recovered from a torn right meniscus only weeks before he was waived.

When the Celtics signed forward Troy Murphy, the most highly sought-after free agent on the market, Powe realized he had to move on from the possibility of returning to Boston. At 27 years old, he needed stability and an opportunity to play.

He knew dwelling on what could have been in Boston wouldn't do him any good.

Once they signed him, it was pretty easy what they were saying -- they wanted Troy Murphy over me, Powe said. And they still had a lot of bigs here on the Celtics, so I was just like, Ive got to move on and Ive got to go somewhere else so I can at least get some type of playing time, some type of run. I didnt want to come over here and just sit down on the bench the whole time the rest of the season and be back in the same situation.

He added with a laugh, Like I said, I love all the fans, love everybody, but when it comes down to it, my little baby needs Pull-Ups.

The Memphis Grizzlies were one of the first teams that had expressed interest when Powe became available. He remembers things like that.

He took a look at his suitors, which also included in the New York Knicks, and assessed the best situation for this season and his future. He was attracted to the Grizzlies low-post game, to which he thought he could contribute, and their interest in size.

Memphis, I looked at their roster and they were rotating three bigs and they were an up-and-coming young team, he said. They were one of the first ones to call me when everything went down, and I respect that about them. And I knew general manager and vice-president of basketball operations) Chris Wallace already a little bit.

I was talking to a number of different teams. I think for the other teams, they wanted me to wait a little bit more. I had a team that I felt I could help and as they were waiting for me, I wasnt going to keep them waiting any longer. So I met with them and made it happen, and its been a good look for me. A real good look for me.

A real good look for Powe, indeed.

On Wednesday night he scored 13 points (5-6 FG) in 17 minutes off the bench as the Grizzlies beat the Celtics, 90-87. Nine of those points came in the first half alone. He hit the basket hard, took charges, and got to the line.

"Leon Powe was the baddest man on the planet tonight," said Doc Rivers.

Powe recalled Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins told his team to attack, and he was happy to oblige.

"Attack, thats what I like to do, so I said Im going to be a little bit extra aggressive tonight and see if I can force the issue a little bit, he said.

After watching the Cavaliers from the bench for the first half of the season, Powe hopes to look toward the playoffs with the Grizzlies. Their win against the Celtics gave them a two-game lead over the Houston Rockets for the eighth spot in the Western Conference.

Powe always believed that, when given the opportunity, he could help a club play postseason basketball. He looks to be on that path in Memphis.

It just proves to me that I made the right decision, he told CSNNE.com. I think things happen for a reason, and I think I was sent over here for a reason. I think what Ive been doing here in the last few weeks, helping this team, and helping our young guys understand the defensive principals too, I can bring a lot to this team and thats what I try to do.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA

Celtics thought it would be good . . . but this good?

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Celtics thought it would be good . . . but this good?

After arriving in Boston and spending some time with his new teammates, Kyrie Irving felt good about this group doing big things this season. 

But when asked about the experience thus far being what he thought it would be, Irving responded, “It’s probably exceeded that.”

He’s not alone. 

Few would have envisioned the Celtics (15-2) would have the best record in the NBA at this point, let alone be riding a 15-game winning streak which ranks as the fifth-best winning streak in franchise history. 

Irving and his Celtics teammates will try and keep it going tonight when they take on the Dallas Mavericks.

Irving’s ability to mesh with his teammates and still find success was among the many questions out there when the Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off the blockbuster trade this offseason. 

Blending in has not been an issue for Irving, bolstered by the reality that his game stands out. 

We saw that in Boston’s 110-99 win over the Atlanta Hawks, which was a game in which Irving had 30 points on an insanely efficient 10-for-12 shooting night. 

There were many factors that went into Irving’s strong night against the Hawks, but he said it really came down to one thing above all else.

“I just made some damn shots for once,” Irving quipped. “That right there kind of made it seem better than I actually been shooting over the start of the season.  It would also contribute to being able to be in the right spots and guys being selfless in their approach driving to the basket or getting into the paint. It’s tell-tale sign of all of us getting more comfortable.”

Here are five below-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on as the Boston Celtics face the Dallas Mavericks, with Boston gunning for its 16th straight win. 

BROWN’S POSITIVE PLAY

Jaylen Brown has been on a bit of an offensive tear of late, the last being a career-high 27-point performance in Boston’s win over Atlanta. But even more telling is how well things seem to flow with him on the floor. Brown’s plus/minus this season is +146 which is tops among all players in the Eastern Conference. His closest competition in the East? That would teammate Al Horford whose plus/minus this season is +143. In addition, Horford has had a positive plus/minus in every game this season. 

YOGI FERRELL

You can count Yogi Ferrell among the ones that got away from Brad Stevens when he was coaching at Butler. Ferrell, who played at Indiana, was a player on Stevens’ radar when he was coaching at Butler. “I recruited Yogi, unsuccessfully,” Stevens told reporters in Dallas. While Ferrell came on strong as an undrafted free agent with the Mavericks last season, Stevens said there’s nothing about Ferrell’s game now that he didn’t see when he tried to woo him to Butler. “He would have been awfully good at Butler,” Stevens said.

HOMECOMING

While Marcus Smart grew up in Flower Mound, Texas (less than an hour from Dallas), tonight’s game is a homecoming of sorts for another Celtics player – Semi Ojeleye. The 6-foot-7 forward played at SMU which is located in Dallas. A second-round pick by Boston in last June’s NBA draft, Ojeleye has been among the many surprise performers for the Celtics this season. “We knew he could be a versatile defender,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Probably has exceeded our expectations in that regard with his ability to guard one (point guard) through five (center) at certain times. And he’s been pretty consistent shooting the ball. Right now, embracing that kind of 3-and-D role is what he has to do and he’s done it well.”

DEEP DRAFT CLASS

The Boston Celtics struck gold by drafting Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick. But as you look at the teams that had lottery picks in last June’s NBA draft, few come away feeling disappointed or discouraged by the player selected. The Dallas Mavericks are among the teams pleased with their first-round pick, Dennis Smith Jr. who was selected with the ninth overall pick. He has emerged as one of the top rookies this year, averaging 14.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. And yes, he was a player that was on the Celtics’ radar leading up to last June’s draft. “We had Dennis in and he was really impressive,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “He’s a guy that’s going to have a great career and he’s got good veteran players around him to help kick it off.”

DIRK NOWITZKI

The numbers aren’t anywhere close to what we’ve seen for the bulk of Dirk Nowitzki’s illustrious career that’s now in Year 20. But there is a demeanor about him that seems to be at peace with where he’s at basketball-wise, even if the wins aren’t nearly as plentiful as he’s accustomed to. “I appreciate his game a ton,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Just watching him talk on the court, cheer on the bench, sit at the scorer’s table with a smile on his face. You can’t play this long and be this good this long if you don’t’ love it. Everybody says they love it, but he’s got a different level of passion. You can feel it, you can see it. You root for guys like him to have success.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Mavericks in Dallas. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: C's need to play Smart in Dallas

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NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE