Celtics-76ers preview: Bench plays a big piece of C's puzzle


Celtics-76ers preview: Bench plays a big piece of C's puzzle

BOSTON – For most of the preseason, questions have lingered surrounding the Boston Celtics as to who would join their Big Three – Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford – in the starting lineup.
But for Boston to find itself playing well into May and early June this season, a key piece to that puzzle will be the play of their bench.
Like most of what the Celtics have been doing this preseason, figuring out the second unit has indeed been a work in progress.
That will continue tonight as the Celtics (2-0) host the Philadelphia 76ers (0-2) at the TD Garden.
“There’s a few of us, but it’s very fun,” said Boston’s Aron Baynes, one of 10 new faces on the Celtics roster. “We’re getting into the rhythm of things. The more we play with each other, the more comfortable we feel.”
While it’s unclear who will make up Boston’s second unit, there’s little doubt about Marcus Smart being the leader of that unit.
“He’s always going to give the bench a lift,” said Celtics guard Terry Rozier. “He’s a guy that’s going to work hard to make those guys around him work hard.”
Baynes echoed similar sentiments about Smart.

“Marcus is a special defender,” Baynes said. “He’s shown that in the first few games. I think it’s gonna be fun playing with him.”
While the second unit has to play well, there will be times when head coach Brad Stevens will go with combinations that mix starters with second unit players.
In fact, don’t be surprised if you see Gordon Hayward or Kyrie Irving on the floor for the bulk of most games.
For that to happen, it means that both players will have to work on not only meshing their games with the starting group but also with key role players off the bench.

“You want to play the game the same,” Hayward said. “The personnel changes a little bit; you’re trying to help guys maximize their strengths. You have to be conscious of that when different guys come in, or when you’re with a different group, knowing what those guys like to do.”
Kyrie Irving vs Markelle Fultz
In the third quarter of Boston’s 110-102 win at Philadelphia on Friday, Irving got into a nice shooting rhythm and wound up leading all scorers with 21 points. A sore shoulder injury kept Fultz from playing in that game, but it’s clear he’s eager to face another former No. 1 pick (Irving) such as himself.  “Any chance you get the chance to test yourself against one of the best point guards in the NBA, I love to do that so I can see where I am, see what I need to improve on," Fultz told reporters.
Key storyline
 If Marcus Morris makes his debut for the Celtics tonight, will he be in the starting lineup? And if so, how long will he play?
“Quote, Unquote”
 “These games, they’re a good tune-up. It’s about being ready for Cleveland October 17.” – Celtics forward Marcus Morris.


Danny Ainge has got the jokes...aimed at Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown

Danny Ainge has got the jokes...aimed at Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown

Danny Ainge was busy on Twitter late last night poking a little fun at a couple of his players.

Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, wondered where the defense was in a video of "Scary" Terry Rozier playing in a pickup game with Wizards guard John Wall and other NBAers. 

A little good-natured payback for Rozier's FaceTime interruption of Ainge's drafting of Robert Williams back in June?

A few minutes before his Rozier tweet, Ainge saw a video tweeted by Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton of Jaylen Brown showing his skills on the piano at the Berkeley campus' Sproul Plaza. Brown spent a year at Cal before being drafted by Boston in 2016.

Ainge couldn't resist a jab at Brown's ball-handling skills. 

So, Celtics players, post those Twitter videos at your own risk because the boss is watching.



Anything is Podable Episode Two: New owner, new era

Anything is Podable Episode Two: New owner, new era

It’s not very often that a marquee franchise like the Boston Celtics is sold, but in 2002, control of the green and white changed hands.

Episode Two of NBC Sports Boston’s “Anything is Podable” looks at the first several years of the Wyc Grousbeck era and how the new ownership group began to lay the building blocks of the next great Celtics team.

“Mortgaged the house to put down the deposit and started to figure out whom I could call to raise all this money,” said Grousbeck in an exclusive interview for the podcast series. “But as of that moment, I knew I was going to be the controlling owner of the Boston Celtics, or I was going to die trying. I mean, that was going to happen.”

While the Celtics’ transformation from pretender to contender took several years, Grousbeck and his team were committed to giving fans the team’s seventeenth championship.

“When you come into the Celtics, you can’t come into it for money, and we never did” added Grousbeck. “I named the company ‘Banner 17’ because I wanted to win the 17th banner and hopefully more.”

The podcast continues on to address the coaching transition from Jim O’Brien to Doc Rivers, as well as Danny Ainge’s first few seasons as General Manager and President of Basketball Operations.

“I’m not exaggerating if I say 10-15 different coaches and ex-coaches told me not to take the Boston job,” said Rivers. “Too much pressure, they’re going to be bad for a long time, not sure if you and Danny will work well together. I mean, I just got a lot of calls.”

“As excited as I was for Doc, you know, Wyc and Pags, they wanted to sign him before we left the house,” joked Ainge. “They were so excited. They were enamored with Doc.”

With Ainge and Rivers now in charge of all things on the court, Grousbeck and his team were on their way to fulfilling their goal.

Anything is Podable is a ten-part series diving into the story of the 2008 Celtics and their championship season, with exclusive, never-before-heard interviews with team executives, former players, and media members.

Narrated by Kyle Draper, it’s the perfect way for Celtics fans to pass time this offseason and get excited for 2018-19, a season in which the Celtics have as good a chance at raising their 18th championship banner as they’ve had since that magical 2008 season.

Fans can subscribe to the podcast through the link below and check out the other nine episodes for a look at this exclusive series.