Celtics

Bean: We could be worrying about nothing over Kyrie

Bean: We could be worrying about nothing over Kyrie

We knew a year in advance that LeBron James was probably leaving in free agency. We're starting to talk that way about Kyrie Irving now. 

Yet with LeBron, it made sense. There's at least a chance we're working ourselves up over nothing with Kyrie. 

Irving hasn't said that he wants to stay in Boston long-term. Financially, he obviously shouldn't commit to that right now because it would cost him a lot of money. But he could at least say it. He could at least tell the "I want to be here for a long time" lie that free agents tell regularly. 

That he hasn't said it is by no means him damning Boston -- he will say that he loves it here and loves playing for the Celtics. It's probably just Kyrie being Kyrie, but in the absence of a sure thing, we're left to guess what else it could be. 

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You've got the reports of him perhaps taking interest in the Knicks. You've got the talk of him wanting to play with Jimmy Butler. You've got that young man on FS1 who kind of looks like me if I shaved my head surmising that Kyrie might not like the media attention Jayson Tatum gets. 

Let's start with that last one. Know who loves Jayson Tatum? Kyrie Irving. They freaking went on vacation together before Irving was even traded to the Celtics. Kyrie put Tatum in one of his Nike commercials during the season. The idea of Irving having an issue with Tatum is preposterous. 

As for the Knicks and Butler? Sure, those could carry some level of intrigue, but going from what the Celtics have now to the Knicks would not be like LeBron going from the Cavaliers to the Lakers. It would be like LeBron going from the Cavaliers to a rec league team. We're not putting enough thought into how good the Celtics are going to be this season and what kind of impression that will likely leave on a player who already says he likes it here. 

This isn't to say to discredit the murmurs of why Kyrie could be interested in leaving -- actually, let's completely discredit that Nick Wright thing -- but we're biting our nails here without considering why (money, winning, coach, etc. ) he would want to stay. 

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That we need this reminder in July of 2018 is not a great sign for the collective mindset of Boston sports media and fans. Nothing was going to happen with Kyrie one way or another this offseason, but we're treating Irving's final year before free agency like his final days before free agency. 

We're not going to get our answer until Irving opts out of his contract after next season. If he stays, the Celtics will rule the East for years. If he leaves, it will be devastating. Which road he chooses will be crucial.

But it's a little premature to declare him gone. 

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Celtics in attendance to support Bruins for Game 7

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Celtics in attendance to support Bruins for Game 7

The Bruins' Game 7 matchup vs. the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night made one thing clear: The Boston sports fraternity is unlike any other.

Fresh off their sweep of the Pacers to advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs, the Celtics were in attendance at TD Garden to watch the B's attempt to advance to the second round as well.

Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and Brad Stevens each were shown on the jumbotron during the second period.

The Celtics weren't the only Boston athletes showing support for the Bruins. Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman also was in the house and waved the honorary flag as banner captain. Tom Brady wasn't at TD Garden, but he still made sure to cheer the B's on via Twitter.

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How will Rozier impact Celtics' series with the Bucks?

How will Rozier impact Celtics' series with the Bucks?

BOSTON --  “I'm dead in the middle of two generations, I'm little bro and big bro all at once..."

Those lyrics are from J. Cole’s latest, titled "Middle Child", which speaks to some of the challenges of being youthful relative to one’s contemporaries while at the same time, leaned upon like a veteran because of one’s experience or proven track record at an early age. 

Welcome to Terry Rozier’s world, one in which he is seen as a 25-year-old on the rise but at the same time, an experienced talent that can be leaned upon to play like a savvy veteran.

Based on how he stepped up in the postseason for the Celtics, he is viewed from one lens as a respected veteran on this team. 

But the return of Kyrie Irving to the playoffs, after a year off because of injury, is a reminder that Rozier is still a young player whose best days as a player are ahead of him. 

Navigating the state of being on the rise and pseudo-established, at least in the eyes of the Milwaukee Bucks, is among the more pressing challenges awaiting Rozier and the Celtics with their best-of-seven, second-round series beginning this weekend. 

Still, when he’s on the floor, Rozier tries to keep things as simple as possible. 

“Just trying to make winning plays, try to put my team in position to feed off some energy,” Rozier told NBC Sports Boston. “Go in there and give it all on the court. That’s what I’m trying to be, lead by example when I get out there. Make the right plays, be a ballplayer and have some fun out there.”

"I'm all in my bag, this hard as it get."

Rozier appeared to have lots of fun against the Bucks in the playoffs last year, delivering a series of ankle-breaking, highlight-reel-quality plays that won't be forgotten anytime soon. 

He's well aware that his role this go-around will be very different. 

A year ago, Rozier was a starter in place of an injured Kyrie Irving and performed well above expectations, which was among the keys to Boston escaping its first-round series with the Bucks in seven games. 

It also sparked an on-the-floor war of words with Milwaukee’s Eric Bledsoe. 

“Listen, man, where I’m from we love that,” Rozier said. “We don’t back down from confrontation or none of that. If you’re gonna talk stuff you gotta back it up.

Rozier added, “At the end of the day, it’s about fun. We respect each other. Like I’ve been saying, ain’t nobody out here a boxer or anything like that. If so, that’s what the summertime is for. But right now, it’s the playoffs; just looking to spice things up and have some fun at the end of the day.” 

For Rozier, fun - at least in this series - will have to be defending at a high level. 

With no Marcus Smart (oblique tear) for the foreseeable future, the Celtics have benefited from several players helping to step up and fill the gap that exists in the Celtics defense without Smart around. 

No one seems to have utilized Smart’s absence to benefit them more than Rozier, who put up some impressive defensive numbers in Boston’s first-round series against Indiana. 

In the Indiana series, Rozier was arguably Boston’s best perimeter defender. 

According to Sports Spectrum data, Pacers players defended by Rozier shot just 25 percent (7-for-28) from the field while scoring a total of 22 points in what was 142 possessions. 

And watching him compete now, Rozier’s play defensively now is reminiscent to his days with the Louisville Cardinals under then-coach (and former Celtics coach) Rick Pitino.

“Terry, he’s disruptive,” said Celtics assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry, who also handles the C's defense. “When he’s at his best, he’s back in his old Pitino days where he’s picking the ball up full court, pressuring guys, he’s taking time off the clock from the team. And their offense, they have to start a little further out. His pressure, his energy that he brings to us, that lifts other guys.”

And that lift in this series will come by way of his defense, a departure of sorts from what we saw from Rozier the last time he was in the postseason facing the Bucks.  

“I feel like if I control my defensive energy, everything else will take care of itself,” Rozier said. “I can obviously put the ball in the hoop; just trying to let the defensive things take care of that, worry about that. And everything else will take care of itself. Now obviously with [Marcus] Smart being out, we’re gonna need my defensive presence off the bench and be impactful.”

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