Celtics

Celtics add first female assistant, Kara Lawson, who 'want to be the best in the league'

Celtics add first female assistant, Kara Lawson, who 'want to be the best in the league'

BOSTON -- Following a recent Boston Celtics practice, Kara Lawson took a stroll outside the practice facility when a biker recognized her and immediately made a U-turn. 

“I’m not going to do a fake Boston accent. That would be terrible,” Lawson said as she recalled the encounter. “He said, ‘Yo Kara, welcome to Boston! Go Celtics! And he turns his bike around and keeps riding.”

In a sense, it speaks to why Lawson found Boston an ideal fit for her after having had overtures from other teams in the past. 

Because in Boston, as much as the focus will initially be on her being the franchise’s first female assistant coach ever, at the end of the day it is Lawson’s ridiculously loaded body of work that stands out and makes her hiring an excellent one for the Celtics.

When the season ended and the Celtics lost assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry who returned to the college game as an associate head coach at Purdue, the thinking was that Boston needed to add an assistant who could better connect with the players. 

Someone like … Kara Lawson. 

Her basketball resume is full of accomplishments on all levels. 

But it’s the highs and lows she has gone through, maybe more than anything else, that makes her someone who seems an ideal fit for what this coaching staff - and these young players - need right now. 

And that is what she brings to the table that when all is said and done, should be of the greatest benefit to this team. 

“My perspective that I try to bring is, I’ve been there,” Lawson said. “I’ve won a championship. I’ve played almost any role you can possibly play on a team. I’ve been a rookie where I didn’t play a lot. I’ve been a point guard where I started every game and we made it to the conference finals. I’ve been a sixth man more years than I wanted to be. So I can relate to when you get put to that sixth position. And it sucks when you come in everyday and the starters are in green and you are in white. It’s the worst, but you have to deal with it and you gotta be a pro. So, most of the things they experienced emotionally, I have experienced too. I can not just understand,  but I can relate to their ups and downs.”

Even with her qualifications and experience, it’ll take some folks - not Celtics fans like the biker dude she crossed paths with recently - some time to get past the fact that she is the first female assistant coach in the franchise’s history.

“My mindset is being the first to do something is great; I want to be the best,” Lawson said. “I don’t want to be the best of my gender. I want to be the best in the league.”

It doesn’t take long to see that Lawson is no different than any other assistant coach in this league whose aspirations are to continue to get better, one day at a time. 

And like most assistants, she’s not exactly twiddling her fingers patiently waiting for things to happen. 

One of the first adjustments for Lawson has been learning the Celtics terminology. 

“It’ll come,” she said. “But I’m not very patient. I want it to hurry up.”

Because when all is said and done, it is how well she does her job - regardless of gender - that will ultimately determine her success.

“I don’t want every time someone talks about me, I don’t want it to be about my gender; at least when it comes in the confines of a competitive environment,” Lawson said. “Obviously from the outside, a societal standpoint, that’s going to happen. It’s unusual still. Hopefully it won’t be unusual down the road.”

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Kemba Walker out vs. Suns but Brad Stevens doesn't think injury is 'a long term thing'

Kemba Walker out vs. Suns but Brad Stevens doesn't think injury is 'a long term thing'

The Boston Celtics are going to be down a couple of starters for their Saturday night tilt with the Phoenix Suns. Jaylen Brown will miss his second straight game with a thumb sprain while Kemba Walker will miss the game with a sore left knee.

Walker's injury popped up on Friday and he was deemed questionable for this contest before ultimately being ruled out. And before the game, Stevens provided an update on Walker and confirmed that he had gotten an MRI.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

"Kemba got ahold of our doctors last night and said he had some knee soreness," Stevens said. "Went and got an MRI today, didn’t show anything structurally wrong, but very sore."

Though he will miss the game against the Suns, Brad Stevens isn't worried about Walker's injury sidelining him for too long.

"I don’t get the impression it’s a long-term thing," Stevens said.

This is good news for the Celtics as Walker has unsurprisingly been one of the team's most important players this season. He leads the team in scoring averaging 22.1 points per game and in Thursday's game against the Bucks, his 40-point effort was the only thing that kept the Celtics competitive. Stevens even admitted that after the contest.

And with a key matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers approaching on Monday night, the Celtics need to be as close to full strength as possible as they look to beat their long-time rival. So hopefully, Walker will be able to play.

We'll soon see how the Celtics are able to fare down both Walker and Brown. In his stead, the contributions of Marcus Smart and Gordon Hayward as playmakers will be more important than usual, as Walker was also averaging a team-leading 4.9 assists per game.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Suns-Celtics, which begins Saturday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Celtics vs. Suns odds: Best NBA picks as C's look to end slide

Celtics vs. Suns odds: Best NBA picks as C's look to end slide

The Celtics will try to begin to reverse a slide that has seen them lose two in a row and five of their past seven when they welcome the Phoenix Suns to TD Garden on Saturday night.

The C's are just 4-5 in 2020 after back-to-back losses on consecutive nights at home to the Detroit Pistons and on the road in Milwaukee. Phoenix, meanwhile, figures to be a Western Conference also-ran at 17-24 but comes in having won three of their past four, including demolishing the Knicks 121-98 on Thursday night.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App. 

The Celtics are 20-5 against below .500 teams, but three of those losses have come in the new year (to the Wizards, Spurs and Pistons). So, despite a 16-4 home record and taking on one of the lesser lights in the West, the C's are no sure thing. 

Here are our betting predictions for Celtics-Suns, as well as two NBA locks against the spread.

(All odds provided by WestGate Superbook.)

Phoenix Suns at Boston Celtics, 7 p.m., ET

Moneyline: Is this the night the C's put it all together again? They'll be without Jaylen Brown (thumb), as they were in Milwaukee, and will be facing a guard in the Suns' Devin Booker, who two years ago went off for 70 points at the Garden against them. Still, with a three-game losing streak staring them in the face, look for the Celtics (-260) to come away victorious.

Celtics Mailbag: Readers have no shortage of ideas to get C's back on track

Point Spread: As for covering, a lot points to the Suns being able to make this a close one. Phoenix has four of its past five against Eastern Conference foes, is respectable 8-10 on the road, has a motivated Aron Baynes returning to Boston for the first time he was traded on draft night and there's the Booker factor. Also, DeAndre Ayton, coming off a 26-point, career-high 21 rebound performance in the win over the Knicks, missed this season's first matchup in Phoenix. Still, look for the Celtics (-6) to regroup for a double-digit win.

Point Total: It's the defense that has let the Celtics down recently. They've allowed 115 points per game in their past three (1-2) and a 51.6 opponents' field goal percentage. The Suns have the NBA's 18th-ranked defense and allow 114.3 points per game on the road. Go with the OVER.

Pat's record, pinch-hitting for Darren Hartwell, picking the Celtics' moneyline, point spread and point total: 7-8

NBA Locks of the Night

Philadelphia 76ers (-4) at New York Knicks: The Sixers are still without Joel Embiid, are on the second night of a back-to-back on the road, where they're only 7-14 and are playing their third game in four nights. Still, it's the Knicks. 

Milwaukee Bucks (-10) at Brooklyn Nets: Let's see what Kyrie has to say about his teammates after dealing with Giannis & Co. 

Pat's record, pinch-hitting for Darren Hartwell, picking NBA locks against the spread: 5-5

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Suns-Celtics, which begins Saturday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.