Celtics

Five things you're probably not thinking about in C's preseason opener

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Five things you're probably not thinking about in C's preseason opener

BOSTON – The preseason opener for the Celtics against the Charlotte Hornets is just a few hours from now. Each team knows tonight’s outcome is no indicator as to how things will play out when these two teams meet in the regular season.
 
Of course, all eyes will be on Boston’s New Big Three of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, who will take the floor as teammates in a game for the first time. There will also be a decent amount of attention paid to how Charlotte big man Dwight Howard meshes with his new teammates.
 
But this game, like so many others on the horizon for the Celtics, has many layers to it.
 
So here’s a glimpse at five things you’re probably not thinking about for tonight’s game:
 
LIMITED MINUTES FOR CHARLOTTE STARS
For those who came to see Charlotte’s Dwight Howard or former UConn star Kemba Walker, two words for you: arrive early.
 
Hornets coach Steve Clifford said his entire roster will play tonight except for Michael Carter-Williams (knee), and that his starters will play 20 or so minutes.
 
MENTOR MEETS MENTEE
One of Jaylen Brown’s mentors in the NBA is Dwight Howard who like Brown, is from Georgia.
 
The two have also shared the same trainer dating back to Brown’s days in high school. The two have kept a close relationship since then.
 
“I love his progress,” Howard said, referring to Brown. “I love where his head is at. And he’s on a really good team. And he has had an opportunity to shine and I think he’s going to take advantage of it.”
 
ROOKIE BIGS TO WATCH

With Marcus Morris’ trial on assault charges still ongoing, Boston’s young big men will get a few more reps in the preseason than they would if the 6-foot-9 Morris were in training camp. Keep an eye on Guerschon Yabusele and Daniel Theis, a pair of rookies from France and Germany, respectively. Yabusele, a former first-round pick of the Celtics, has shown no signs of being limited following the removal of bone spurs this summer and having done little basketball-wise this summer. Theis, who has won multiple championships overseas in Germany, is a high-energy forward who is going to get time in the preseason as well.
 
SHANE LARKIN
When Shane Larkin signed with the Celtics, Boston’s backcourt was loaded with guards. Even with Avery Bradley (Detroit) and Isaiah Thomas (Cleveland) gone, there’s still no clear path towards playing time. But the 5-11 point guard will compete with minutes as a backup point guard with Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart (although Smart may play more off the ball this season with Larkin around). Look for him to see action tonight and while he’s out there, wish the young fella a happy birthday (he turns 25 today).
 
DOWN UNDER CONNECTIONS
Kyrie Irving is the first player born in Australia to play for the Boston Celtics, but he won’t be the only player with Australian ties on the floor tonight. Charlotte’s Mangok Mathiang is originally from Juba Sudan (now referred to as South Sudan), but his mother and sisters moved to Australia when he was seven years old (his father stayed behind in Sudan). After playing prep ball for two years in the United States, he would go on to play for the University of Louisville. The 6-10 big man went undrafted in last June’s NBA draft but wound up signing a two-way contract with the Hornets.

Report: Knicks given slight edge over Celtics as Kyrie's free-agent destination

Report: Knicks given slight edge over Celtics as Kyrie's free-agent destination

Those pesky Kyrie-to-the-Knicks rumors have been around even before Yahoo's Chris Mannix mentioned the Celtics were "scared" of Kyrie Irving heading there next summer. They picked up steam this week with another report of The Big Apple as a destination for Irving and Jimmy Butler to join forces.

Now, ESPN's NBA Forecast Panel gives the Knicks a slight edge over the Celtics to land Irving, 46.9 percent to  43.8 percent.

Here's part of the panel's explanation on ESPN's "The Jump": 

It would take some salary-cap machinations for New York to lure Irving to play close to where he grew up in West Orange, N.J. They would likely have to risk losing Kristaps Porzingis in free agency next summer by not giving him a big-money extension this season. 

There's also a potential pursuit of Kevin Durant in free agency next summer as the Knicks - playoff-less since 2013 and title-less for 45 years - make another attempt to spend their way back to relevance. 

Irving has made it clear he's not going to cost himself millions by signing an extension with the C's this season ("Contractually, financially, it just doesn’t make any sense”) and is headed to free agency, so, with training camp more than a month away, get used to a season full of questions about his future. And expect the Knicks speculation to heat up before the four C's-Knicks games (Oct. 20 and Feb. 6 in New York and Nov. 21 and Dec. 6 in Boston). 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Danny Ainge has got the jokes...aimed at Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown

Danny Ainge has got the jokes...aimed at Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown

Danny Ainge was busy on Twitter late last night poking a little fun at a couple of his players.

Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, wondered where the defense was in a video of "Scary" Terry Rozier playing in a pickup game with Wizards guard John Wall and other NBAers. 

A little good-natured payback for Rozier's FaceTime interruption of Ainge's drafting of Robert Williams back in June?

A few minutes before his Rozier tweet, Ainge saw a video tweeted by Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton of Jaylen Brown showing his skills on the piano at the Berkeley campus' Sproul Plaza. Brown spent a year at Cal before being drafted by Boston in 2016.

Ainge couldn't resist a jab at Brown's ball-handling skills. 

So, Celtics players, post those Twitter videos at your own risk because the boss is watching.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE