Celtics

Rondo influenced Heat rookie Cole's season

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Rondo influenced Heat rookie Cole's season

BOSTON -- In the Celtics second game of the season, a rookie in just the second game of his career scored 20 points to help the Heat take away a 115-107 win in Miami.

Now only days before the postseason, Heat rookie Norris Cole looked back on how his success against Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has influenced his first year in the NBA.

I learned that I could potentially be good in this league performing against one of the top point guards in Rondo, he told CSNNE.com prior to the Celtics' 78-66 win. It was my first home game so I was playing with a lot of bottled up emotions and I still was able to perform, learn how to perform under a certain amount of pressure at this level, and learn some of the Xs and Os of the game under great defenses.

Cole played 29 minutes off the bench, shooting 8-for-16 from the field and 4-for-6 from the line in the December 27 game. He also recorded four rebounds, four assists, and three steals.

Along the way, Cole paid attention to Rondos moves. He has tried to incorporate them into his game throughout the season.

He rebounds well for a guard, very well, Cole said. He controls just about everything that happens on the team. Being a leader and being able to affect the game on both ends, I think thats what I took the most from it and thats what I try to add to my game.

Cole entered that early season game with high expectations, and they were affirmed. He has taken that approach to every game he has played so far. Chances are, its a similar mindset to Rondos.

I always expect to play well, Cole said. Thats what we work hard for every day. I have very, very high expectations.

Marcus Smart remains cautiously optimistic on return to the Boston Celtics

Marcus Smart remains cautiously optimistic on return to the Boston Celtics

WALTHAM, Mass. — Marcus Smart, less than two weeks away from becoming a restricted free agent, remains cautiously optimistic that he will be back with the Celtics this season.

“I do,” he said at his basketball camp held on the campus of Brandeis University. “I haven’t put too much thought into this off-season, the free agency thing.

He added, “my number one focus is on my family now. I have a lot of stuff going.”

Specifically, Smart’s mother Camellia Smart is battling cancer.

Smart, who has spent a good chunk of the offseason with her in Texas, said her health has been his number one priority this summer.

“Right now, she needs all the positive thinking we can give her,” said Smart who added that she has three kidney stones and has lost the ability to walk due to chemotherapy treatments. 

While basketball is certainly an afterthought for Smart at this time, both he and the Celtics will have to make some tough decisions soon. As a restricted free agent, the Celtics can match any offer he receives. 

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A number of teams, including the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns are doing their homework on Smart to determine 1) If they want to make an offer to him and 2) what’s a number they can put out there that would dissuade the Celtics from matching.”

Smart, selected by the Celtics with the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, has been a mainstay in the Celtics rotation from the moment he joined the team.

Despite often being criticized for his poor shooting, Smart averaged 9.4 points per game throughout his career as a Celtic, appearing in 251 regular season games.

His impact most nights lies at the defensive end of the floor where he has emerged as one of the better on-the-ball defenders in the NBA.

And while most think of good perimeter defense as contesting shots, Smart has shown you can be a difference-maker defensively by being in the right position at the right time as well.

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After rallying back from a 26-point deficit to beat Houston earlier this season, Smart drew a pair of offensive fouls on inbounds plays against James Harden in the closing moments to help secure the win.

And there have been countless dives on the floor for loose balls, deflections, rebounds and of course forcing turnovers, that have made Smart a player that has tremendous value in the eyes of the Celtics.

But in terms of dollars and cents, how much is Smart really worth to the Boston?

There are several teams in the NBA  such as the New York Knicks and Detroit Piston s, that are making calls inquiring about Smart to determine if they will make an offer to the restricted free agent-to-be next month.

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Celtics were first to show "high level of interest" in Donte DiVincenzo

Celtics were first to show "high level of interest" in Donte DiVincenzo

In an interview with the Boston Globe ahead of Thursday's 2018 NBA Draft, Villanova University coach Jay Wright said the Boston Celtics were the first team to show a "high level of interest," in Donte DiVincenzo. 

"I think Danny Ainge might have been the first guy I talked to about Donte,” he said. “They saw something in him really early. They liked his competitiveness and his ability to shoot the ball."

Wright went along to explain that the Celtics questioned DiVincenzo's defensive ability, but that they really liked him nonetheless. Boston owns the 27th pick in the NBA Draft this Thursday, and could consider taking the former Wildcat if he is available. 

The Celtics brought DiVincenzo in for a pre-draft workout early in the draft process, while Ainge reportedly took him out to lunch after it had concluded

DiVincenzo averaged 13.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in his redshirt-sophomore season. He shot 48 percent from the field and 40 percent from three point range, leading the Wildcats to their second NCAA National Championship in three years. 

It is possible the Celtics won't be able to select DiVincenzo with the 27th pick with the way his draft stock has risen, but Ainge has plenty of future draft picks to consider trading up if he has deemed DiVincenzo "his guy."

The 2018 NBA is scheduled to begin on June 21st at 7 p.m. EST. 

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