Celtics

WR Gonzalez puts injuries in the past

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WR Gonzalez puts injuries in the past

FOXBORO -- Anthony Gonzalez believes he's landed where he was meant to.

"This is my first time as a free agent; I didn't know what was going to happen, or how it worked," the 27-year old receiver said Tuesday at Gillette Stadium. "I've got some good friends who are very talented football players who still haven't signed on with anybody.

"It was somewhat surprising, but it was the one I was hoping to get, to be honest. When I evaluated free agency and different teams and how I thought I would fit culturally as well as from an offensive standpoint, this is one I targeted. To have the interest be mutual -- that worked out well."

A former first-round pick out of Ohio State, Gonzalez is entering his sixth season in the league. But what should have been a promising career has been ravaged by injury: a dislocated thumb; bruised foot; shoulder, hamstring, hip, knee, back, groin and "leg" ailments; a high ankle sprain; concussions. Consequently, Gonzalez has 99 catches for 1,307 yards and seven touchdowns in 40 games. He had zero receptions last season for the 2-14 Colts.

"Those seasons weren't how I would have hoped for them to go," he admitted. "I've learned a lot of things and going forward, that' s kind of in my past. It's a basic rule: I look forward as opposed to back. And that's the focus I'm putting on it these days."

Further prodding about his health -- from various angles -- produced little else. Gonzalez said he's one to outline his personal goals, and it seemed on Tuesday he'd already made up his mind to not discuss injury issues.

There's enough in the future to concern himself with anyway.

"I'm kind of sneaking around trying to learn as much as I can; there's kind of some goofy rules right now in terms of what you can and can't do," he smiled. "But that's kind of my focus right now with Tom, or Brian Hoyer, or anybody, is just to learn this offesne as quickly as humanly possible. I know just from watching that it's a pretty complex, pretty involved offense. The one in Indy was too so that part of it doesn't worry me.

"I want to make sure when it's time to go out on the field and do things there's no hesitancy mentally because I know if I don't know exactly what I'm doing, there's going to be problems for me. It's a lot harder to play when you don't know what you're doing."

Chad Ochocinco illustrated last season how unpreparedness plays out in New England: Badly. And what did the receiver say again and again, in the few times he talked? Patriots expectations are astronomical -- uniquely so -- and in the locker room it starts with quarterback Tom Brady.

The attitude of excellence is one Gonzalez had to have experienced playing with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis.

"I was joking with my friends I have a very strict "Hall of Famer only" policy and I have to stay within that group," Gonzalez laughed. "It's wonderful obviously. Quarterbacks make receivers look very good and hopefully I can get some opportunities with him."

It helps he knows Brady back-up Brian Hoyer very, very well; the pair played football together at Cleveland's St. Ignatius high school.

Though Gonzalez said it's "odd" to be reuinted with his high school quarterback, he's appreciates having a familiar face around Gillette. He described himself as a quiet guy who has appreciated getting to know his new teammates in the small waves currently are rolling into the facility.

And it's just the beginning, Gonzalez hopes.

"From my perspective, I have an opportunity with the best football program in the National Football League," he said. "I can't ask for anything more than that."

All signs point to LeBron James playing against Celtics Tuesday

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All signs point to LeBron James playing against Celtics Tuesday

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- A sprained left ankle injury kept LeBron James out of all but one of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason games, and has created a certain element of uncertainty as to whether he’ll play against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night. 
 
While it has yet to be determined for sure if he’ll play, all indications are that the 15-year veteran will be in the starting lineup as the Cavs kick off their quest to remain the team to beat in the East.

“I never hide stuff from you guys. I really don’t know,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said when asked if James would play against the Celtics. “Depending on how he feels, but I really don’t know.”
 
However, James looked pretty comfortable shooting the ball after practice with a trio of former Celtics in Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Jeff Green. 
 
And if you listen to the man who would likely start in James’ place -- J.R. Smith -- there’s nothing to worry about Cavs Nation. 
 
According to Smith, James will play. 
 
“We were talking about it, he’s never missed, since he was 8 years old and he started playing, he’s never missed a first game,” Smith said. “I’m preparing for him to play.”
 
Despite having played more than 41,000 minutes -- only 33 players in NBA history have done so -- James has been one of the game’s more durable players. Last season James he sat out only eight games, and that was the most he has missed in a single season.
 
 "He's gonna go [Tuesday]," Smith said. "He's gonna go, trust me [on] that. I don't care what he's gotta do, he's gonna play."
 

Celtics may spend a good part of the year playing 'Getting To Know You'

Celtics may spend a good part of the year playing 'Getting To Know You'

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- It’s hard to believe the Celtics are just hours away from their first regular-season game after having been together for less than a month. 
 
The quick turnaround isn't all that different than it is for the other 29 teams in the NBA.  But the Celtics, who advanced to the Eastern Conference finals last season, are returning only four players -- and just one starter -- from last year.
 
Training camp was indeed a crash course called Getting to Know My Teammates 101.
 
But listening to the players, and coach Brad Stevens, it’s clear there will be lessons learned all season long.

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“We have a good feel about how things can look, in the preseason,” said Al Horford. “But it is the preseason. Now it all starts. And right away we face a tough test (in the Cavaliers). But yeah, we’ll start learning even more. We’ve already learned a good amount, but even more when Tuesday rolls around.” 
 
That's when the Celtics kick off the regular season at Cleveland, which will once again be the favorite to advance to the NBA Finals.
 
Not too far behind (right behind them, by most accounts) are the Celts, whose season ended in the Conference finals a year ago in a five-game loss to the Cavs.
 
And the Boston players collectively feel that, despite the short amount of time together, they’ve developed a good sense of chemistry and understanding of how to play effectively with one another. 
 
Having said that, they also understand that there’s still plenty of room to grow. 
 
“I don’t expect it to be perfect by any means at all,” said Gordon Hayward. “We’ll definitely have some ups and downs this season. Like I said, one thing is we’ll be able to compete every night. We’ll be able to play together. Those things should stay the same.”
 
In many respects, the Cavaliers are going through a similar challenge this season.  They've added Derrick Rose, Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder -- and, when he recovers from his hip injury, Isaiah Thomas -- to a core group that’s led by LeBron James. 
 
While the increase in talent is undeniable, it’ll take some time before they too develop the kind of on-the-court cohesiveness that comes with time. 
 
“It’s gonna take time,” Rose said. “It’s going to be a process for everybody to learn their roles, learn everybody’s tendencies, and not think while they’re out there.”
 
And while there’s a heightened level of uncertainty as to how things will play out with the Celtics this season, Stevens embraces the unknown. 
 
“I think we're going to be learning about ourselves through the middle of the season,” Stevens said. “I think you do that with every team, but I think that's especially the case now. But this is, I've said this before, like, the first week, the first 10 days, the first few weeks, we have such great and unique challenges that it's gonna be really good for this team regardless."
 
Stevens added: “Because, to have to go into Cleveland with that level of intensity, with that level of attention, distraction, etc., is great. It's great to experience that in game one. A tremendous learning experience for our group. So, we're preparing to play as well as we can. And we know that they're really, really good. But this is, I'm looking forward to it because I want to find out where we are.”

Hayward added, “It’s a fun first game to start the year. Regardless of what happens, we’ll have some improving to do and things to get better at.”
  
 

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