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."

NBA trade rumors: Lakers holding best assets for Anthony Davis deal?

NBA trade rumors: Lakers holding best assets for Anthony Davis deal?

The Los Angeles Lakers have yet to find a second superstar to pair with LeBron James, but they at least have an idea of which player they'd like to fill that role in the future.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski dropped an interest nugget about the Lakers' pursuit of New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis during a recent segment with colleague Zach Lowe.

“Here’s the line [the Lakers] have to walk: they’re not going to give away picks and their top young players in some deal that makes them incrementally better this season because they have got to save all those assets for Anthony Davis, a big trade this summer either pre or post free agency," Wojnarowski said. "That's why they looked at players like Trevor Ariza, guys on one-year deals who don't have money going forward. ..."

Wojnarowski later added: "The absolute dream scenario, people talk about (how) they can trade for Anthony Davis or sign a free agent. The dream scenario is they do both.”

Davis likely is going to be a trade target for several teams, and the Boston Celtics are one team that's been linked to the superstar center in many trade rumors in recent years. Even Celtics fans were doing their best to recruit AD to Boston by giving him a rousing ovation during the starting lineup introductions when the Pelicans came to TD Garden last week. 

Davis can be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2020 if he declines his 2020-21 player option, but the Pelicans can offer him a super-max contract extension next July. If he declines that extension, the Pelicans will have no choice but to trade him, and that's when the real fun will begin.

At this point, though, the Lakers and Celtics probably are the teams best positioned to trade for Davis. The Lakers have young, talented players such as Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma to offer New Orleans, while Boston can dangle Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and maybe Jayson Tatum. The C's also could have as many as four 2019 first-round draft picks to pitch. 

The Celtics vs. Lakers rivarly has been fierce on the court, but the next battle might come off the floor if/when Davis becomes available for trade.

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Three under-the-radar areas the Celtics will look to improve upon

Three under-the-radar areas the Celtics will look to improve upon

BOSTON -- Win or lose, the Boston Celtics don’t spend a ton of time dwelling on the past. 

Being an on-to-the-next-game kind of team serves them well right now after their 113-104 loss at Detroit, which snapped their eight-game winning streak. 

So in the spirit of looking ahead, here’s a look at three areas the Celtics will try and shore up between now and their next game which is at home against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.

Contesting shots

The Celtics don’t get a ton of blocked shots but consistently rank among the league’s best defensive teams. Why? Because they contest the hell out of shooters, from the perimeter as well as within the paint. This was one of the more glaring areas Boston had more problems in than usual. Against the Pistons, the Celtics contested just 50 of Detroit’s 80 shots from the field, or 62.5 percent. To put that in perspective, during Boston’s winning streak, six of their eight wins involved them having a contested shot percentage better than 73 percent, with the lowest contested shot percentage being .632 against New Orleans on Dec. 10.

Passing game

During their eight-game winning streak, Boston’s passing game was among the best in the NBA.  During the eight-game streak, Boston averaged a 322.1 passes per game which ranked fourth in the league. But the ball didn’t swing around nearly as much against the Pistons. The Celtics had 280 passes against Detroit according to NBA.com/stats, which is more along the lines of their season average (292.7) which ranks 15th in the NBA.

Catch-And-Shoot

This has been one of the bread-and-butter categories for this revived Celtics offense. During the eight-game winning streak, Boston averaged a league-best 39.5 points on catch-and-shoots in addition to 12 made 3’s per game which was also tops in the NBA. Saturday’s loss saw a noticeable drop in this category with the Celtics mustering just 18 points on catch-and-shoots.

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