Celtics

How Greg Monroe is acclimating to Celtics' system

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How Greg Monroe is acclimating to Celtics' system

BOSTON – Greg Monroe is a low-post, back-to-the-basket scorer who is a willing passer but doesn’t have the deep, long-range shooting touch that’s becoming more common among today’s NBA big men. 

But the big fella has skills, the kind that should be on display more often as he becomes more familiar with the Boston Celtics' system. 

Tuesday was an important step in that process with Monroe going through his first practice with the Cltics. 

Boston acquired the 6-foot-11 center on Feb. 8, just days after he was bought out by the Phoenix Suns.

“It felt good to practice,” Monroe said. “It was good to get some reps, get some good reps at learning the offense, communicating on defense with the guys game speed but not in a game.”

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Monroe has already appeared in three games for Boston, averaging 4.0 points, 5.0 rebounds in 14.3 minutes per game.

The 6-foot-11 center has been picking up the nuances of the Celtics' system at a pretty good clip, but said getting the offensive stuff down has been the bigger challenge.

“Defensively, it’s pretty easy picking up rotations, communications … the language you use is pretty universal,” Monroe said. “Even if the call may be different, it’s still the same positioning that I’m used to so that’s not really hard.”

It’s still early, but his new teammates like what they have seen thus far. 

“More than anything with Greg, he’s a veteran. He knows what to do," said Boston's Al Horford. "He has a very good feel for the post. For me, I’m going to try and help him defensively and on offense, anything I see that can help our team and help him … but he’s picked up our offense pretty quickly. He’s a very smart player. He’s on top of a lot of things.”

One of the keys to Monroe being on the fast track in learning the Celtics' system, has been assistant coach Jay Larrinaga. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens assigns all players an assistant coach to work with throughout the season. 

“He’s been a huge help,” Monroe said of Larrinaga. “Just getting me up to speed, learning the plays, telling me what certain guys like, what Brad expects of me.”

And those expectations have been pretty clear. 

Stevens wants Monroe to be Monroe, a big man who can score in the post, find teammates if they are open and maybe most important, contribute to the culture of winning which has the Celtics (40-18) firmly entrenched as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. 

And for Monroe, Tuesday’s practice – his first with the team – was a great first step in that process.

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Celtics' Al Horford will rest Wednesday vs. Cavaliers

Celtics' Al Horford will rest Wednesday vs. Cavaliers

BOSTON -- Following the Celtics' Monday night win over the Miami Heat, Al Horford said he was feeling great. 

And one of the main reasons for that has been the ability to provide Horford with “strategic rest” at various points this season. 

We’re apparently at one of those rest stops right now with the team announcing on Tuesday that Horford will sit out and rest instead of playing Wednesday night at home against Cleveland.

By Horford not playing against the Cavs (9-39), who own the worst record in the NBA, Horford will essentially have a week off before Boston hosts two-time defending NBA champion Golden State on Saturday night at the TD Garden.

This will be the 10th game missed by Horford this season, a stretch that included eight in a row due to patellofemoral pain syndrome in his left knee. 

Upon his return, Horford played with a minutes restriction. 

But in the past four games, Horford has been essentially allowed to play the kind of minutes he has grown accustomed to. 

And to his credit, Big Al has delivered in a big way in the past four games - all Celtics wins. 

In that span, Horford has averaged 17.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.5 assists while shooting 65.9 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range in 31.3 minutes played per game.

With Horford out for the Cavs game, look for Aron Baynes to get the start with Daniel Theis, Guerschon Yabusele and Robert Williams III all likely options for coach Brad Stevens off the bench. 

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How a Grizzlies rebuild could deliver Boston's next star

How a Grizzlies rebuild could deliver Boston's next star

As the Memphis Grizzlies reportedly entertain the possibility of a rebuild, the Celtics might have found the centerpiece of their next big deal, one that might only bolster their long-term ability to contend for a title.

ESPN reported Tuesday that the Grizzlies, for the first time, will begin entertaining trade offers for stars Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. The Celtics are owed a future first-round pick from the Grizzlies and the protections loosen in coming seasons.

After Memphis won 12 of its first 17 games to open the season, it appeared the pick, which is top-8 protected for 2019, might convey this season. But the Grizzlies are a mere 7-23 since Nov. 21 and have lost 12 of their past 13. 

With the second-worst record in the Western Conference but only the sixth-worst record in the NBA, the Grizzlies seem to be coming to grips with the fact that it might be better to move their aging stars and embrace a rebuild in hopes of a quick turnaround that might take the sting out of the pick they will eventually deliver. In trading their stars, the Grizzlies almost assuredly will collect a top 8 pick this season.

Further out it gets murkier for Memphis. Quick rebuilds do not typically happen. And the Celtics would reap the benefits if the Grizzlies struggle to contend in the aftermath of an overhaul, even if that pick ultimately doesn’t convey for two more years. The Grizzlies’ pick is top-6 protected in 2020 before becoming completely unprotected in 2021. 

Memphis’ willingness to overhaul their roster is no small development for the Celtics, whose assets have been diminishing in value as some NBA rivals outkick expectations. The Celtics are set to collect the Sacramento Kings 2019 first-round pick, if it’s not No. 1 overall, but the Kings are still battling for a playoff spot in the West, sitting 24-23 entering Tuesday’s action.

With a horde of East teams clogging up the bottom of the NBA standings, that means the Kings pick — once dreamed to be a top-five selection — is currently projected to land closer to No. 10 overall. 

The Celtics were staring at the less-than-optimal possibility of collecting all three of their owed first-round picks this season (the Clippers could potentially deliver a non-lottery first-rounder). But the Grizzlies pick pushing into future years gives the Celtics a lot more flexibility in using it a deal.

Not only does the value rise as the protections loosen but the Celtics can dangle that pick as part of a package for a big star — say, Anthony Davis, or his ilk — and it’s more attractive than if the Celtics were forced to make that selection in June.

The Celtics, of course, don’t have to move the pick in a deal but it just seems like the most likely scenario. Boston could also keep the prime selection and try to build young depth to an already talent-filled roster, especially if there’s not a big fish available on the trade market that they desire to chase.

Entering Tuesday, the Celtics projected to collect picks No. 13 (Sacramento), 19 (Clippers), and 24 (their own) based on current standings. 
 

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