Young Celtics aren't wasting time contributing to winning culture

Young Celtics aren't wasting time contributing to winning culture

BOSTON – Surrounded by a team that’s full of youth and exuberance, Kyrie Irving has an appreciation not only for what his youthful teammates can do but just as important, what they don’t do.

Good teams, bad teams, and all those in between are treated by Boston’s younger players with the same handle-my-business approach that you just don’t see that often from players this early in their NBA careers.

The season is still young and there’s plenty of time for slippage, but the Celtics youngsters passed yet another early season test in Wednesday’s 113-86 win over Sacramento.

Since they righted the ship after a two-game skid to start the season, Boston has treated every opponent with the same level of focus, attention to detail and effort that gives you insight into how they have managed to win six straight despite most games featuring at least four rookies on the floor at some point during the game.


Conventional wisdom says you can’t win with lots of rookies.

The play of the Celtics, who used four rookies against the Kings and have won with as many as six earlier this season, suggests otherwise.

And what makes them stand out?

They’re getting lots of playing time and the team is winning, two things that rarely coincide when talking about first-year players and a team’s success.

“Young guys are getting better, man,” said Kyrie Irving when I asked him about this. “Young guys coming in, they’re expected to do a lot more. Especially in situations that they’re put in.”

Jayson Tatum was the No. 3 overall pick in last June’s draft by Boston.

Players taken that high are often all but guaranteed to log major minutes and with those minutes, can play through the mistakes that tend to crop up when you’re so young.

But Boston’s young players are in a completely different situation, and have a different set of expectations which sets them apart from most first-year players.

They don’t have the benefit of working through their mistakes and that being OK with their coach or the front office, something they saw first-hand on Wednesday in the Kings who are still a relatively young team despite adding veterans George Hill (31 years old), Zach Randolph (36 years old) and Vince Carter (40 years old).

There were countless possessions on Wednesday when Sacramento would come down court, take a shot without making a single pass in the half-court set, and do the same thing for consecutive possessions.

You let Tatum do that, and see how quickly he finds himself with a front row seat on the Celtics bench next to coach Brad Stevens.

To Tatum’s credit, he’s smart enough not to do that.

And that high basketball I.Q. that you so often hear about NBA players having, appears to be the one common thread that binds all of Boston’s young players together.

They’re smart enough to know what they have to do to not only play, but deliver impactful basketball on the court and help the Celtics win games which is a far cry from the agenda most high draft picks and first-year players have when they enter the NBA.

Irving, the top overall pick in the 2011 draft, remembers all too well what the game was like for him and a lot of players coming into the league around that time.

“Top picks in the league when I came in, we weren’t on the best of teams,” Irving said. “We had good players, but as young guys coming in, we were just … I was just expected to get numbers. That attitude kind of stuck with me and turned into some bad habits I had to break out of as I got older in this league.”

But this is a different time and the young players – the Celtics’ young players especially – enter the league with a different approach that’s more about winning games than winning over fans with great individual one-on-one play.

“They’re at the starting line and they’re ahead of the curve in terms of where previous young guys were,” Irving said.

And the reason is pretty simple.

“Guys are getting better, man,” Irving repeated. “And when you come into a situation where you have great veterans, it makes their job a lot easier and they’re learning curve a lot quicker. That’s all you can hope for. The quest for knowledge is never-ending.”

Which only serves as a reminder of how important it is to embrace what Boston’s youngsters are doing on the floor – contributing to a winning culture.


'Big Baby' busted with 126 grams of pot, $92K in cash

AP Photo

'Big Baby' busted with 126 grams of pot, $92K in cash

Former Celtics forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis was arrested last month in a hotel room in Aberdeen, Maryland, with more than 126 grams of marijuana and more than $92,000 in cash.

Davis, 32, who played on the Celtics 2008 championship team was last in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2015, was arrested Feb. 7 after the hotel owner at the Aberdeen Hampton Inn smelled marijuana coming from Davis' room, WMAR-TV in Baltimore reported.

“They recovered 126 grams of marijuana,” Aberdeen Police Lt. William Reiber told WMAR. “In addition to that, there was a briefcase that contained 92,164 dollars of U.S. currency along with a ledger that contained language which is consistent with someone involved in the sale and distribution of narcotics.”

Davis is charged with seven counts of drug possession and distribution.

Police said the strains of marijuana were from a Los Angeles wholesaler that court records show Davis told police he was in business with.

He told officers he was visiting family in Maryland. Davis' attorney told WMAR the former Celtic (2007-11) adamantly maintains his innocence and looks forward to his day in court next month to clear his name. 


Horford helps Celtics get back on track

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Horford helps Celtics get back on track

Aggressive Al Horford was on the floor Friday night for the Boston Celtics, a good sign for a Celtics team that has been battered by injuries. 

As the oldest member of the team, the 31-year-old’s leadership has to become more example-driven as well as existing in the spoken word.

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Horford was on point for most of Friday’s 92-83 win over Orlando, a game that was far more lopsided in Boston’s favor than the final score might indicate.

The 6-foot-10 forward/center had a near double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. 

What was more telling was that Horford took a team-high 18 shots from the field, as clear a sign as you will find that Horford’s mindset on Friday was to attack Orlando’s defense early and often. 

And while it’s true that the Magic are one of the worst teams in the NBA, that doesn’t diminish the way Horford executed the plays called by head coach Brad Stevens as Horford played the role of primary scorer more often than usual, instead of being a major facilitator.

Having missed Boston’s previous two games, Horford was admittedly concerned if the lay-off might affect his conditioning. 

“Wind-wise I felt good,” Horford told reporters after Friday night’s win. “A little rusty on offense. But defensively I felt great. I felt our team came out with energy; just a good win.” 

A win that became a lot easier to get with Aggressive Al on the floor. 

 Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds in Boston’s 92-83 win over Orlando.



Terry Rozier: He continues to provide the Celtics with really solid guard play, with all-star guard Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) missing. Rozier had a game high-tying 17 points along with seven rebounds and five assists. 

Greg Monroe: The third quarter was when Monroe really began to take over the game. He finished with 17 points, 10 of which came in the third. 

Shelvin Mack: Not a lot to cheer about for Mack and the Magic who once again struggled in so many phases of the game. But Mack still managed to score 16 points. 



Al Horford: Having missed the two previous games, Horford was back in full force on Friday. He had 15 points on 6-for-18 shooting to go with nine rebounds

Boston rebounding: The Celtics control of the glass began from the outset and never really eased up. For the game, Boston grabbed 55 rebounds compared to just 40 by Orlando. 



Fourth-quarter Celtics: The only real blemish on an otherwise impressive performance by Boston, was the team’s overall play in the fourth quarter. Boston was outscored 31-17 and turned the ball over 10 times in the quarter.