From Comcast SportsNetDwyane Wade's offseason is now pretty much over.The Miami Heat still have more than three weeks before assembling for training camp and starting the defense of their NBA title, but for Wade, summer vacation is essentially complete. He's been cleared to return to the court and rehab from offseason knee surgery, a process he's already started. And he'll spend the next couple weeks bouncing from coast to coast on a tour for his book on fatherhood that was released Tuesday.It means long, not-exactly-relaxing days will be the norm for Wade until training camp. Case in point: He was out of his hotel room in New York before 8 a.m. Tuesday, and didn't return until after midnight, at least a half-dozen events jamming his calendar.He calls the people around him Team No Sleep, and for the next couple weeks, that'll be accurate."I think when it's hard to find the energy, I think about all the things I want to do," Wade said. "Whenever I feel like I don't have the energy, I have to go back and think about where I've come. This is what I wanted so let's keep going, let's keep pushing, let's keep doing."That's his business mantra. It also applies to basketball.Miami's first game against the Boston Celtics isn't until Oct. 30, so there's plenty of time to get sharp. But Wade's process of getting ready for his 10th NBA season, physically and mentally, is under way. He had a couple slices of pizza for lunch Tuesday, meaning that when he got to the taping of CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman," Wade had to pass on cookies left in his dressing room.Such is life for those who want more NBA titles."It's about now I start thinking about certain things," Wade said. "The season, it's still back here, in the back of my mind. It's not right here yet, not all the way in the front of my mind yet. But we're getting closer."Wade said his rehab is ahead of schedule. He was on the court for workouts last week.Clearly, though, he's not going to maniacally test his knee for a while. With his itinerary of promoting "A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball" in New York jampacked through the rest of this week, before the tour moves on to other cities, Wade is taking a few days off from court work.And when eyebrows rise when he says that, Wade quickly points out that going a bit easy at first not only was the plan, but is the smart plan as well."Coming off knee surgery, I couldn't possibly work out every day anyway," Wade said. "I have to work my way into things. I just left Los Angeles. I worked out for the whole week I was there. And now I needed a few days off. So when I leave here, I go to Miami and I'll work out again there. It's the way we mapped it out. It's no good for my knee right now to put that much pressure on it."His shoulder, that's getting a workout now.Wade signed 575 copies of his book at two events on Tuesday, both of which had people lining up hours before the doors opened. One man told him he flew in from China just to get an autograph. A woman told him she missed her first day of classes at Penn State to make the trip to New York and stand in line to spend a few seconds with him instead.When the Heat visit the Knicks this winter, Wade will be booed. Apparently, New York loves him the rest of the time, as evidenced by people standing outside his hotel for 12 hours to catch a glimpse, or others somehow who figured out his traffic pattern and ran up to his vehicle at red lights, unsuccessfully begging for autographs."Everybody wants to be associated with winners," Wade said. "Phones get picked up a lot easier when you're a champion. I understand some people might want to see my book, some people might want to see me, some people might want to be there because you're a champion. I see all sides of it. I appreciate it. When someone says Hey, Champ,' it never gets old."
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As the wins continue to pile up for the Boston Celtics, so does the praise and adulation from others throughout the league.
It’s a double-edged sword if you think about it.
Acknowledging how good the Celtics are, is indeed a sign of respect.
But it also means Boston plays every game with a large target on its back unlike any of Brad Stevens’ previous Celtics teams.
And that means every game they play, even those like tonight’s matchup at Atlanta where they will be heavily favored, are dangerous matchups.
Because for some teams, the next best thing to competing against the champ (Golden State) is facing the team with the best record who just knocked off the champ.
That will be one of the dynamics at work tonight when the Celtics (14-2) kick off a three-game road trip against a trio of sub-.500 teams beginning with the Hawks (3-12).
Boston has shown tremendous focus and attention to detail during their 14-game winning streak. But in that span, the Celtics have never had a trio of teams right behind each other that struggled as much as the Hawks, the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks have this season.
Not including games played on Friday, Boston’s next three opponents are a combined 11-33.
All three of those teams would love to be the one to knock off the Celtics, the kind of victory that could significantly shift the direction of their respective franchises from their current downward spin.
Meanwhile, the Celtics will look to continue to play with the kind of defensive temperament that has catapulted them to the top of the NBA’s defensive standings in several categories.
“The way they’re beating teams it ain’t pretty,” a league executive texted NBC Sports Boston. “But they win. Last I checked, that’s what matters most.”
And that success has to a large degree, put a bigger bullseye on the Celtics than ever.
“Now that we have a reputation, I think everyone is coming for us,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Now we have to come play even harder, and I think we can do that. I think we are more than capable.”
Especially if they continue to defend at a level we haven’t seen in years.
Boston has a league-best defensive rating of 95.4. A key component in Boston’s strong play defensively has been their ability to win the battle of the boards. They come into tonight’s game with a .530 rebounding percentage which is second in the league to Portland (.539).
And that defense, while praised for how it functions collectively, it also consists of some pretty good individual defenders as well.
Among guards averaging at least 20 minutes per game, Boston has four players ranked among the top 10 in defensive rating (Marcus Smart, 93.5 defensive rating, 2nd); Jaylen Brown (93.6, 3rd); Terry Rozier (95.0, 5th) and Kyrie Irving (96.4, 8th).
When you look at forwards, Brown headlines a trio of forwards that includes himself, Al Horford (94.2, 3rd) and Jayson Tatum (96.1, 7th).
Aron Baynes has the best defensive rating (90.6) among centers, followed by Horford (94.2).
“Our guys are locked in and really trying and again we can really play some pretty ugly basketball at times,” Stevens said. “But I do think that we are competing which is really good.”