Celtics

Celtics hope to minimize mistakes while picking up the pace

Celtics hope to minimize mistakes while picking up the pace

WALTHAM, Mass. – The 20 or so pounds of weight lost by Marcus Smart from a year ago is expected to help him become an even bigger impact defender this season.

It’ll also help him at the other end of the floor with the Celtics looking to play at a faster pace than we’ve seen under fifth-year coach Brad Stevens.

“With the skillset we have and guys coming off the bench, we definitely have the capability to do that,” Smart said.

Playing at a faster pace has actually been one of the strengths of the Celtics under Brad Stevens.

Boston has advanced to the postseason each of the last three seasons which includes two seasons (2015 and 2016) when they finished fifth and third, respectively, in the league in pace.

Last season was Boston’s most successful campaign since Brad Stevens has been their coach, but the team’s pace ranked only 12th in the NBA (99.32).

Indeed, playing a quicker game while minimizing mistakes, is one of the many challenges Stevens and the Celtics will face this season.

In each of the last three seasons, the Celtics have finished among the league’s top-8 in lowest turnover percentage. Stevens’ rookie season with the Celtics in 2014, Boston’s turnover percentage was .159 which ranked 28th in the league.

“I want us to play faster if we can keep the ball within our team,” said Stevens, referring to the Celtics’ need to limit turnovers. “Faster can be a number of things. For us, pace is the word, right? Pace can be up the floor but it can also be once you get into your half court, being able to move and cut, play together.”

But the goal of playing faster this season is something the Celtics will have to build up to, especially with a roster that’s filled with new faces who are still learning how to play with each other.

“We’re throwing the ball all over the gym some right now and making plays we’ll have to clean up,” Stevens said. “But as far as the intent of what we’re trying to do and the way guys are playing … it’s been good.”

But the Celtics, while eager to get out and run, understand balancing that with being a strong defensive team isn’t easy.

Last season, three of the top-5 teams in pace (Brooklyn, Phoenix and Philadelphia) were in the bottom half of the NBA defensively.

“We want to get the ball out and when we get stops, we want to get the ball up the floor as quick as possible,” Smart said. “Quick buckets, and we want to be able to execute at a fast pace.”

Said Stevens: “We want to do everything with pace; we want to do everything with high motor.”

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Jayson Tatum on overhyped talk: 'I'll stick to my job'

Jayson Tatum on overhyped talk: 'I'll stick to my job'

A story earlier this week from Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes calling burgeoning young Celtics star Jayson Tatum one of the NBA's five most overrated players has expectedly ruffled some feathers in the Boston sports stratosphere. 

But Tatum himself is taking the high road. In a conversation with ESPN's Chris Forsberg centered around his recent workouts with future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant, the 20-year-old forward, who finished third in Rookie of the Year voting this past season, said he wasn't bothered by the article:

While Hughes acknowledged that Tatum could be a franchise player, his reasoning for inclusion on the list was that he could be a victim of the stacked team for which he plays, saying, "Kyrie has never been one to take a backseat, and with him back on the floor, it'll be much harder for Tatum to build on his postseason takeover."

As for the session with Kobe? Tatum clearly absorbed a lot:

Hughes also named Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins, Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard, Bulls foward Zach LaVine and Suns forward Josh Jackson in the company of overhyped players.

It's been quite a week for Tatum, the former No. 3 overall pick out of Duke University. Earlier in the week, the St. Louis native had his jersey number permanently retired at his high school alma mater.

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Anything is Podable Episode Four: Building the Roster

Anything is Podable Episode Four: Building the Roster

Even with three All-Stars in Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce, Danny Ainge and the Celtics knew that, in order to win a championship, the team needed a strong supporting cast of role players.

Episode Four of NBC Sports Boston’s “Anything is Podable” takes a look at how Ainge constructed the rest of the roster and how one word, “ubuntu,” set the tone for a memorable season.

Giving the team a shooter off the bench, as well as another veteran presence in the locker room, Eddie House was perfect for the 2008 Celtics.

“I remember going to a practice when he was a young player,” said Ainge regarding House. “Just watching him shoot, and shoot, and just amazed at what a great shooter this kid was.”

“I saw him have his 56 and 60 back-to-back point games in the Pac-10 and it was amazing.”

Long a fan of House, Ainge went out and got his guy, but he wasn’t finished yet.

James Posey, a veteran wing who had experience both starting and coming off the bench, was nearing a deal with the Nets, but one call changed everything.

“I actually told my agent, I’ll just go to New Jersey,” said Posey. “Then Eddie House called me.”

House convinced Posey to spurn the Nets in favor of the Celtics, giving Boston another veteran off the pine.

With the roster taking shape, what the team needed now was an identity.

Ubuntu.

Mentioned to Doc Rivers at a trustee meeting at Marquette University, the word that means “I am who I am because of you,” became the team’s mantra.

“I looked this word up and I spent, no exaggeration, hours and days on this word,” said Rivers. “Everything about the word epitomized what we had to be.”

Ubuntu was the rallying cry of the 2008 Celtics and it all started with a Board of Trustees meeting at Marquette.

Anything is Podable is a ten-part series diving into the story of the 2008 Celtics and their championship season, with exclusive, never-before-heard interviews with team executives, former players, and media members.

Narrated by Kyle Draper, it’s the perfect way for Celtics fans to pass time this offseason and get excited for 2018-19, a season in which the Celtics have as good a chance at raising their 18th championship banner as they’ve had since that magical 2008 season.

Fans can subscribe to the podcast through the link below and check out the other nine episodes for a look at this exclusive series.