Celtics

Brown opens up about conversation with Celtics' Danny Ainge this morning

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USA Today Images

Brown opens up about conversation with Celtics' Danny Ainge this morning

BOSTON -- As the Boston Celtics were nearing the end of their morning shoot-around prior to tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards, Jaylen Brown and Danny Ainge, with Marcus Smart around as well, had a conversation off to the side of the practice court. 

If you’re around this team long enough, you’ll find Ainge, the team’s President of Basketball Operations, having these kind of conversations often with his players. 

When asked about the conversation, Brown made it clear that the conversation had more to do with Ainge offering him perspective on what has been a difficult year for both Brown and the Celtics. 

Many players' roles have changed, but few have had a bigger adjustment than Brown who went from being a starter, the No. 2 scorer to Kyrie Irving and a player with elite two-way potential, to a reserve sharing minutes off the bench with Gordon Hayward.

And then there’s the criticism from fans and the media, not to mention the occasional dust-up in the middle of games between Brown and his teammates. 

Ainge, a former NBA player and coach prior to assuming a front-office position with Boston, knows all too well about the bumps along the way that all players deal with in their early years in the NBA. 

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That’s why Brown values moments like this morning when Ainge's words served as a reminder to Brown to keep all that’s going on in perspective.

"It’s appreciative,” said Brown, who added that Ainge also praised him for how he has handled all the ups and downs of this season. “Some GMs might not say anything to you. So I appreciate him. I try to listen to everybody, hear from everybody and their perspective. You can learn something from anybody if you listen. So, Danny’s definitely one of the people in my ear that I’m tuned in to, just because of his position and what he’s been through.”

Brown said this wasn’t the first time Ainge delivered a pep talk of sorts to him. 

“I remember my rookie year, there was a point … I just came off a good stretch, had played against LeBron (James), started, had a few good games or whatever,” Brown said. “And then I had a few terrible games right after that. And he (Ainge) came up to me … and said, ‘This is a part of your growth, so all these experiences now, you’re going to learn from and grow from. And it’s gonna be a year or two where everything is going to be perfect, you’ll be in a great situation and be able to display your talent to your full capability. But until then, you have to work for those moments.' ”

And while Brown has had his share of critics this season, he has been among the more consistent players for the Celtics of late with his season numbers looking eerily similar to how he performed in February. 

It is that consistency that gives both Brown and the Celtics optimism that the struggles that have bogged them down of late — they come into tonight’s game against Washington having lost four in a row — won’t be as big an issue as they continue to focus on playing better to close out the regular season and head into the postseason with the focus on playing some of their best basketball as a group. 

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“That’s the goal,” Hayward told NBC Sports Boston. “You want to do well in the playoffs, obviously. That’s what you play for, to win a championship. But you want to go into the playoffs with some momentum, playing good basketball. That’s the goal.”

A goal that Brown is on board with even with an increased level of criticism levied his way. 

“I don’t get paid to complain; I get paid to play basketball,” Brown said. “Whatever the temperature is, whatever the climate is (of the team), you have to continue to come out and play basketball and play hard. You’re representing a lot. I’m representing my family, representing my community, representing the Boston Celtics. So, I want to come out and make everybody happy with my play at least.”

And when it comes to assessing the team currently, Brown politely takes a pass on answering that question directly. 

“I wouldn’t evaluate it,” Brown said. “Everybody knows and everybody has seen the ups and downs and how we’ve struggled so I’m not going to speak on it. I’m just hoping today is a new day, we gotta game today and I want to win. That’s what I’m looking forward to doing tonight (against the Wizards).”

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Enes Kanter shows big support for 7-foot-7 Tacko Fall in latest tweet

Enes Kanter shows big support for 7-foot-7 Tacko Fall in latest tweet

Enes Kanter seems to be a fan of Boston Celtics' 7-foot-7 rookie Tacko Fall.

Kanter posted a video to Twitter of Fall practicing at Auerbach Center, and he took time to praise Fall's efforts on Twitter.

The Celtics' signed Kanter to a two-year $10 million deal back in July, while Fall entered Boston's system as an undrafted free agent but he impressed in the Las Vegas Summer League. Kanter is the replacement for Al Horford, who left the Celtics over the summer for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The two should be a great duo for the Celtics, as both have the height and skill to be something special this coming season.

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Record predictions for the 2019-20 campaign

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Record predictions for the 2019-20 campaign

Entering training camp a year ago, expectations were sky-high for the Celtics. Most pundits considered them the team to beat in the East. Vegas fancied Boston as a 59-win team, the second-highest win total behind only Golden State. And a Finals matchup between those two teams was far from a pipe dream.

Fast forward a year and expectations have been tempered. The Celtics lost a pair of All-Stars this summer in Kyrie Irving and Al Horford and, despite signing another in Kemba Walker, the team finds itself widely considered a Tier 2 team in the East behind projection darlings Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

So what happens this year? Do the Celtics go back to being the sort of overachievers that have defined Brad Stevens’ coaching career? Will a younger roster struggle to simply meet even the lowered expectations of this season?

To wrap up Week 1 of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our NBC Sports Boston panel to look into their crystal balls and predict not only Boston’s final win-loss record but how far they’d advance in the playoffs.

The  Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook projects Boston at 49.5 wins this season. The Bucks (58) and Sixers (55) top the Westgate projections and the next five teams all reside in the west. 

The Celtics went 49-33 last season, settling for the fourth seed in the East. They swept the Victor Oladipo-less Pacers in Round 1 but bowed to the top-seeded Bucks in five games in Round 2.

When you consider that Westgate’s four lowest win totals reside in the East (Knicks, Wizards, Cavaliers, Hornets) and seven East teams sit below 40 wins, it feels like the Celtics should reasonably win 50+ games despite the roster changes.

So we’ll put the Celtics at 52 wins and a spot in the East semifinals. That seeding would likely mean a second-round matchup jousting with either Giannis’ Bucks or Embiid’s Sixers and Boston’s frontcourt development might dictate just how competitive those series could be. Remember, too, Stevens tends to produce his best magic when you least expect it.

The irony, of course, is that the Celtics could win 49 games this season and get bounced in Round 2 again but if they develop chemistry and are more enjoyable to watch then last year’s gang, then Celtics fans will be far more OK with that script playing out a second time — well, so long as players make the sort of strides that suggest more is possible in the coming years.

Abby Chin: 50-32 Eastern Conference Finals

I think purely based on better chemistry and grit, this team will improve on last year’s win total. And, I’ll bank on some luck in the playoff bracket. Maybe with injuries, or regular season Al Horford, Philly and Milwaukee fall to the 2 and 3 seed so the Celtics could avoid them in the first couple rounds.

 

A. Sherrod Blakely: 50-32, East Finals

I'm gonna keep the cookies on the bottom shelf with this one. They are a better team (team not individuals) than they're going to get credit for, and they have a roster that's full of talent with a huge chip on their shoulders from the coach on down. This group will play harder, smarter and win a lot of games they probably shouldn't and by doing so, keep Celtics fans extremely happy all season.

Max Lederman: 51-31, lose in 2nd round

Before last season the Celtics have always overachieved under Brad Stevens. I expect a return to that with lowered expectations this season. The Celtics also had their worst record vs winning teams last year since Brad's 2nd season. They should put up a better fight this season.

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