Five takeaways from week 1 of Celtics' training camp
NEWPORT, R.I. – Good health for all and improved play for some is about as good as it gets during the first week of training camp.
That’s why as the Boston Celtics depart Salve Regina University, their home away from home since Tuesday, the optimism remains high for a team that’s considered to be one of the best in the NBA this season.
Here five takeaways from the five practices the Boston Celtics conducted at Salve Regina University’s campus this week.
1. Kyrie Irving, The Communicator
When he asked for a trade out of Cleveland, among the many reasons cited for the move was to have better opportunities to be more of a leader. Well it looks like Irving is taking that part of his job with the Celtics very seriously. Player after player after player when asked about takeaways from camp, mentioned Irving constantly being in the ear of his teammates offering encouragement, advice and direction. “He’s been really helpful with all of us,” Celtics rookie Daniel Thies told CSNNE.com. “He’s talking all the time, letting guys know what to do, what they need to do. He’s been great.”
2. The Tatum Hype Train: All Aboard
The most talked-about player besides Boston’s new Big Three has been Jayson Tatum. Al Horford has praised him as one of the best rookies talent-wise that he’s ever seen. Kyrie Irving describes him as a “bad man” which when translated, means he can play really, really well. Tatum has treated the hype this week the same way he treated it when he arrived at Duke a year ago. “No matter what anyone says, I know I have to get better,” he told CSNNE.com this week. “That’s all I’m trying to do; just get better from one day to the next one. If I do that, I’ll be fine.”
3. Baynes’ Physicality Good As Advertised
There are legitimate questions about the Boston Celtics’ defense and their rebounding for this upcoming season. By no means does anyone think Aron Baynes will be the solution by himself to those problems. But after five practices, there’s no question that he has done enough to show that he can make an impact in both areas for the Celtics. Although he played behind Andre Drummond in Detroit last season, Baynes still did enough to establish himself as a solid defender at the center position. But as his teammates discovered first-hand, the 6-foot-10 big man can help in a multitude of ways. “He really takes up space out there,” Theis said. “And he’s strong; he’s really strong.”
4. C’s Defense Ahead of offense now
The Boston Celtics’ defense ranked 12th in the NBA last season which is pretty remarkable considering how they struggled at the start of the season. While they are far from establishing themselves as an elite team defensively just yet, it’s clear that they are closer to being on the same page than the team’s offense. Here are the three keys to that early success: Boston’s length at seemingly every position means even when they aren’t in great position to defend they can still contest shots; Gordon Hayward’s defensive versatility a better fit than anticipated this soon and last, Al Horford’s steady-as-it-goes presence. “He’s a really smart player out there,” Theis said. “He knows where to go, what to do and how to get there. I’m glad we’re teammates.”
Smart’s Conditioning Stands Out
A slimmer Marcus Smart has been exactly what his teammates anticipated. He’s down about 20 points, but is just as strong as ever even while carrying less weight. Smart played both guard spots last season as well as some small forward due to his size. Look to see him spend most of his time in the backcourt this season at one of the two guard positions. Not only is that due to him losing weight and thus not necessarily having the weight to throw around like he did last season, but also because Boston has more options to turn to defensively at the wing position this season.