Shane Larkin's lone season with Celtics 'huge step' toward EuroLeague superstardom

Shane Larkin's lone season with Celtics 'huge step' toward EuroLeague superstardom

BOSTON -- While Shane Larkin appeared in 54 games (two starts) with the Boston Celtics, playing time wasn’t nearly as plentiful as he would have wanted. 

But like most of the players who have come through town since head coach Brad Stevens’ arrival in 2013, Larkin left on good terms. 

And some of the lessons learned during his time in Boston, Larkin credits for being instrumental in his growth and development into arguably the best player in EuroLeague play this past season. 

Click here to enter NBC Sports Boston’s Podcast Sweepstakes for your chance to win a desktop Bluetooth speaker/microphone!

“Overall, I became a much better basketball player, playing in Boston,” Larkin said on the Celtics Talk Podcast. “Just the way I saw the game, the way I read the game.”

While playing with Turkey’s Anadolu Efes, Larkin led the team to a EuroLeague-best record while averaging 22.2 points on 53.0 percent shooting from the field, 50.9 percent shooting on 3’s, along with making 90.3 percent of his free throws. 

As a Celtic, Larkin acknowledged having a familiar face also helped his acclimation process. 

Listen and subscribe to the Celtics Talk Podcast:

Larkin had an established relationship with Celtics assistant coach Jay Larranaga, whose father Jim Larranaga was Larkin’s head coach at the University of Miami. 

In Boston, Jay Larranaga was the Celtics’ assistant coach who Larkin spent the most time working with on his shooting and various ball-handling skills. 

On those nights when Larkin would not get into games or play limited minutes, he was back in the gym the following day with Larranaga, focused on improving his all-around game to best ensure when his opportunity to play arrived that he would indeed be ready. 

“That year, on the court and off the court, mentally, physically, I just took a huge step in my development as a man, as a player,” Larkin said. “And it has really helped me get to where I am today.

Larkin added, “Boston has a great thing, a great setup right now. And if you’re lucky enough to be a Celtic at this current time, you’re definitely going to come out of there in much better shape than you went in.”

Check out the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast or watch it on YouTube below.

 

Celtics Talk Podcast: Retired NBA ref reveals how Brad Stevens interacts with officials

Celtics Talk Podcast: Retired NBA ref reveals how Brad Stevens interacts with officials

Some NBA head coaches are difficult for referees to deal with.

Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens is not one of them.

However, that doesn't mean Stevens won't get upset at referees when they make a bad call. Stevens certainly isn't afraid of showing emotion, but he also won't go out of his way to be rude toward the officials.

Click here to enter NBC Sports Boston’s Podcast Sweepstakes for your chance to win a desktop Bluetooth speaker/microphone!

Retired referee Danny Crawford, who spent 32 years officiating NBA games -- including the first four years of Stevens' career in Boston -- joined the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast to discuss several topics, including the Celtics coach's demeanor toward the refs.

"I'll tell you what, Brad is a sneaky -- I'm not going to say nasty, because he's not a nasty man, but Brad, he gets his shots in," Crawford said. "He defends his team, he defends his players in a classy, professional way."

Listen and subscribe to the Celtics Talk Podcast:

Crawford was quick to point out Stevens' interactions with referees are "totally different" than former Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

"Doc is difficult," Crawford said with a laugh. "Between Doc, Larry Brown and Kevin Loughery, three of the most difficult coaches to actually work under."

Stevens became Celtics head coach prior to the 2014-15 season, and Boston has steadily improved throughout his tenure. The C's have won 48 or more games in four consecutive seasons, as well as five playoff series over the last three years.

The 43-year-old coach has done another fantastic job this season. The Celtics have exceeded expectations and currently occupy third place in the Eastern Conference standings with the 2019-20 campaign on pause.

Also in the new episode: Crawford reflects on Michael Jordan's push-off in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals (he officiated that game), what he thinks of C's legend Tommy Heinsohn and much more.

You can check out the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or on YouTube.

This Date in Celtics History: Kelly Olynyk was unforgettable in Game 7 in 2017

This Date in Celtics History: Kelly Olynyk was unforgettable in Game 7 in 2017

Even to this day I struggle to think of Giannis Antetokounmpo doing otherworldly things on the basketball court, and not think about Kelly Olynyk. 

When the Celtics traded up in the 2013 NBA Draft, I was convinced that this ridiculously athletic physical freak was Boston-bound because the Celtics, who had the 16th overall pick that year, knew he wasn’t going to get past then-Milwaukee Bucks GM John Hammond, who was sitting on pick No. 15. 

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis

So. when the Celtics swung a deal with the Dallas Mavericks for the No. 13 pick, I was convinced the man that they were eager to get was Antetokounmpo. 

I was wrong. 

And the Celtics were among the dozen or so NBA teams that totally whiffed on the future league MVP. 

But I’ll say this for Olynyk. 

While he certainly had his share of ups and downs in Boston, the 7-footer had one of the greatest moments in recent years by delivering the game of his life - in one of his final games as a Celtic -  in Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference semifinals against Washington. 

Olynyk didn’t just play well. 

He was on a level that we had never seen before, finishing with 26 points (He was averaging 7.8 points in the previous six games of the series) in helping lift Boston to the win and a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals. 

Listen and subscribe to the Celtics Talk Podcast:

It was a franchise-altering performance on two fronts. 

The win took Boston deeper into the postseason than any Brad Stevens-coached team had ventured up to that point while sending the Wizards home for the season along with being the first domino to fall for a franchise that hasn’t come anywhere close to being as good as they were that season. 

Prior to Game 7, Olynyk’s most memorable moment in the series involved a hard screen he set in Game 3 of the series on Kelly Oubre Jr., who quickly rose to his feet and charged towards Olynyk, sparking a shoving match between both teams. 

But in Game 7, it was Olynyk delivering one basketball body shot after another.

Knowing he was coming up on restricted free agency, Olynyk gave the Celtics as good a parting gift as you can imagine. 

And after he signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the Miami Heat, Olynyk took to Twitter to let the Celtics faithful know how much he enjoyed his time donning the Green and White. 

While with the Heat, Olynyk’s play hasn’t been nearly as good as it was on that memorable Game 7 against Washington.

However, you wouldn’t have known that by the career-high 32 points he dropped on the Celtics upon his return to the TD Garden that year. 

Still, Celtics fans are always going to have a soft spot for Olynyk because his play in Game 7 served as a reminder of how anything is possible when it comes to a star emerging for one night when needed. 

And while Olynyk has never played anywhere close to that level of play on a consistent basis since that Game 7, that’s OK.

Because for one night, May 15, 2017, the Celtics got the absolute best that Olynyk had to offer. 

And that was good enough to help elevate a strong Celtics franchise into what has been a model of consistency since then while leaving another still searching for an identity.