Celtics

Europe trip a good chance for Celtics to bond

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Europe trip a good chance for Celtics to bond

BOSTON - The Boston Celtics European tour begins this weekend as the team heads overseas to Italy where they'll prepare to play three-time Euroleague Champion and 26-time Italian League Champion Olimpia Milano in Milan on Oct. 6.

Then it's to Spain, where the C's will take on nine-time Euroleague and 32-time Spanish League Champion Real Madrid on Oct. 8.

The games are just another step in the right direction for the NBA as they continue to grow the brand globally. And what better way to do that than to send one of the most famous franchises in the sport there?

Of course it's not the first time the C's have been sent overseas. Who can forget their trip to Rome in 2007, the same year Kevin Garnett and the gang joined the team? Players from that team have pointed to that trip in Italy as a big reason for their close bond throughout the season, leading to their historic run to an NBA championship.

When Garnett and Ray Allen signed, the thought was that it would take the team some time to jell - maybe a season - before they'd win a championship. But the rest of the NBA found out rather quickly that that wasn't the case as the Celtics began the season 29-3.

So how much of that early success was due to being abroad before the season? Brian Scalabrine, who was a member of that championship team and now works for CSN New England, said the trip helped them break down walls that otherwise might have been up during the early points of the season.

"I'll say this: the one thing when you're overseas, more times than not you're not around anybody else," Scalabrine said. "You're not around your family, you're not around your boys, you just got each other. So you go out to dinner every night. But I would think that that team, no matter where we are we would have been close because we had Garnett, [Paul] Pierce, the way those guys are. But for sure, those first seven days in Rome, we got to know each other really well which allowed you to grow on the court because you could fight and have disagreements but you are still going out to eat at night. So I think that's the biggest thing especially when you have a high level of personalities and you're working things out."

The expectations for this year's Celtics team are obviously different than those of the 2007 team. But the trip can still be effective in building bonds between the young players and allowing themselves to become more comfortable around each other.

"You just really lock in to each other and I think you get rid of distractions," Scalabrine said. "People over there don't care as much. You have things to do but you feel a bond because there are no other distractions."

As for how much it will translate into wins? That's to be determined. Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been overseas with multiple teams and has had mixed results in the end.

"I've laughed about that a little bit because I've been on overseas trips with the college teams where you don't have a very good season, and then you come back and you go to the National Championship game," Stevens said. "When we went to the National Championship game we talked about how great it was. I think that the bottom line is that it's a good team bonding experience. The opportunity to improve together and spend time together is a good, positive thing. It's a small piece of a long puzzle."

Knicks, Nets reportedly in mix for Kyrie-Butler combo in '19

Knicks, Nets reportedly in mix for Kyrie-Butler combo in '19

Remember those rumors of Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler teaming up in free agency next year? Well, that buzz is back and Boston isn't the rumored destination.

Two league sources told Business Insider that the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets could be well-positioned to land the two players, with one source saying the chatter is "substantial."

"It wouldn't surprise me if either New York team or potentially both New York teams hit it big next summer," one source said.

That echoes a Chicago Sun-Times report from July which said the Celtics and Timberwolves stars had been talking about how they could team up. Each player can opt out after this season and Irving has made it known he'll be heading to free agency. The Kyrie-to-the-Knicks rumors have been around for a while. 

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Paul Pierce says if Celtics learn to sacrifice, they'll win title

Paul Pierce says if Celtics learn to sacrifice, they'll win title

If there's anyone who knows what it takes to be a champion, it's Paul Pierce. So when the Celtics legend speaks, it would be best for the current team's young stars to heed his words.

According to a report from Boston.com, Pierce touched on what this current squad needs to learn if they want to hang the team's eighteenth championship banner from the rafters of TD Garden.

"When you have that type of talent, they're going to have to learn to sacrifice," Pierce said at a charity event in Brookline on Friday morning. "Not everybody is going to be able to accomplish maybe the individual goals they want to accomplish, but the team's greater goal should be all that matters."

The Celtics, who have made the Eastern Conference Finals the past two seasons but were vanquished both times by LeBron James' Cavaliers, saw perhaps their greatest obstacle in competing for a championship disappear when James signed with the Lakers in free agency. With one of the most talented rosters in the NBA, Boston has built a team capable of getting over the hump and winning a title.

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"You have to sacrifice if you are truly committed to winning a championship," Pierce added. "They're going to win a lot of games, but unless they sacrifice--because we know they're going to be better than probably what their numbers show--if they can sacrifice they'll win a championship this year. Because the talent is definitely there."

If there is one player on the current roster who can show that championship mentality to young stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, it's Kyrie Irving. However, much of the talk surrounding Irving, who won a championship with the Cavaliers in 2016, this offseason has been about him potentially leaving Boston after the season in free agency.

"Kyrie is a competitor," Pierce said. "He's won a championship. He knows -- if they win again he'll get whatever contract he wants. He's an extraordinary talent and he knows that winning trumps everything. If you win, everybody wins."

The Celtics start their quest for their eighteenth title on October 16 when they host Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.