Celtics

White III among Celtics who could get minutes thanks to shorter preseason

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White III among Celtics who could get minutes thanks to shorter preseason

BOSTON – Rest will be the dish of the night for the Boston Celtics’ Big Three – Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford – who along with Marcus Morris, will not play in tonight’s preseason matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers.

This means there will be opportunities for Boston’s lesser-known players to get on the floor, something that’s a bit trickier to do this season than past years.

With the NBA focusing on lessening the wear and tear on players in the preseason, most teams play no more than five or six preseason games compared to previous years when most teams play an eight-game preseason slate.

The Celtics (2-0) play tonight and close out the preseason portion of their schedule on Wednesday at Charlotte.

The shorter schedule has meant fewer opportunities for players near the end of the bench or those who are training camp invitees, to show what they can do in games.

Andrew White III, who played at Syracuse University last season, is among the training camp invites hoping to make the most of his opportunity to play potentially as early as tonight.

But even if that doesn’t happen, he feels good about the way the Celtics have approached working with and developing all their players.

“Brad is very detailed in what he wants to do,” White III told NBC Sports Boston. “So you have to be ready at all times. Outside of the designated practice hours, just working, watching tape, going through the offense, just so we’re up to speed with everything.”

Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown explained his approach to dealing with a shorter number of games and its impact on getting a good look at camp invites and some players near the end of the roster.

“It is challenging, but not as challenging as everybody might think,” Brown said.

He added that the players have been together for most of the month of September which has afforded them plenty of time to get a feel for one another, ranging from stars such as Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons, to players who are training camp invites.

“We will end of having sort of five real preseason games to make assessments,” Brown said. “The rhythm to my subbing has always been, you play who you really think is going to play during the regular season the first three periods. Then you give the last period to those guys you want to evaluate. That strategy changes a lot as the preseason games become fewer. You want to give your guys real minutes.”

For White III, it remains to be seen how much if at all, he’ll play tonight or in the Celtics’ preseason finale at Charlotte on Wednesday.

But White III is likely to continue developing his game in New England with the team’s Gatorade League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

“I’ll probably be there,” White III told NBC Sports Boston. “To my knowledge, I’m taking it for what it is and try to learn as much as possible.”

Whether he’s in Boston or Maine, the goal remains the same for White III and all players in training camps this year.

“Wherever I am, it still comes down to producing,” White III said. “And I am confident that I will produce if given the opportunity.”

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BEST OF BST PODCAST: C's back from All-Star break, how will Stevens change rotations?

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BEST OF BST PODCAST: C's back from All-Star break, how will Stevens change rotations?

(1:00) A. Sherrod Blakely joins Boston Sports Tonight to discuss Brad Stevens hinting that he will change the Celtics rotations after All-Star break, and what changes he thinks Brad will make. (4:30) How will Marcus Smart’s return impact Terry Rozier?

(5:40) Evan Drellich and Lou Merloni discuss why the J.D. Martinez announcement was delayed another day as doctors review his physical, and whether Red Sox fans should be concerned.

(11:50) DJ Bean reacts to the Bruins trading Frank Vatrano to the Panthers and Anders Bjork being out for the season following shoulder surgery.

(14:40) Mike Flynn joins Kayce Smith and Tom E. Curran to discuss Sports News article that says that the Denver Broncos could possibly release Aqib Talib. We debate what it would take to get Talib back to New England and how well he would fit in with the Patriots defense. 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

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Celtics set to play with greater sense of urgency in return to action

Celtics set to play with greater sense of urgency in return to action

WALTHAM, Mass. – The road to getting back atop the Eastern Conference standings for the Boston Celtics following the All-Star break will begin – where else? – on the road.

And that’s a good thing.

Boston, which plays its first two games after the break on the road beginning at Detroit tonight and New York on Saturday, has been among the league’s best all season when it comes to winning on the road.

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Only two teams, Golden State (22-7, .759 winning percentage) and Houston (21-7, .750 winning percentage), have a better road winning percentage than the Celtics (19-8, .703 winning percentage) this season.

“Our schedule is really hard as we hit this last home stretch 23 games,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “And that’s a good thing with us. We are going to have to have that urgency.”

Boston (40-19) has lost three straight and four of its last five games.

Aware of how quickly a couple of losses can snowball into a full-blown losing skid, Boston players understand the importance of playing with a greater sense of urgency.

“I think we have a sense of urgency about ourselves,” Brown said. “I think we understand the second half of the season and the importance of it, getting ready for playoffs. And how you can see some of the older guys, Kyrie (Irving), Al (Horford), the attention to detail, the stress about the little things is becoming more evident.” 

Said Irving: “We hit a little bit of a stretch where we haven’t been playing our type of basketball. Not necessarily being as consistent as we’d like to be. We just want to get back to being consistent and doing the right things.”

Stevens added, “Hopefully these little hiccups that we have had prior to the break, which more pertains to who we are playing … hopefully benefit us down the road.”

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Al Horford said more than anything, the Celtics have to ratchet up their attention to details in all phases of play.

“The focus is really now more than any point in the season taking it day-to-day,” Horford said. “And I felt like we got better, today was a good practice. This is a good start, so now for us it’s just to keep building that and just take it game-to-game because these are … the rehearsal games, if you want to call them that. That’s what I like to call it with this group. So, getting everything straightened out for when the playoffs come around.”

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