Celtics gear up for training camp 2.0

Celtics gear up for training camp 2.0

BOSTON – Saturday’s loss at Cleveland was the denouement to the Boston Celtics’ preseason schedule of games.

As one preseason door closes, the Celtics find themselves ready to start another chapter on Tuesday with a game-free stretch of practice time in preparation for the season-opener against Philadelphia on Oct. 16.

Disappointing just doesn’t do justice to what we saw from the Celtics at the start of training camp.

And while some may point to the unusual start of the training camp with so many games front-loaded, players aren’t using that as an excuse for their struggles.

“It’s different but one of the things coach (Brad Stevens) always talks about, is us dealing with different situations, adversity,” said Al Horford. “That happens to be the schedule. We have to go through it.”

Indeed, there was more going on than Boston losing three of four preseason games which concluded with a 113-102 loss at Cleveland on Saturday.

The bigger concern going forward was how the losses came about.

In those four preseason games, Boston was routinely out-worked, didn’t defend anywhere close to the level expected from a unit with all its core guys back, and the offense was an inconsistent mess that lacked fluidity or any semblance of cohesiveness that’s required to be successful.

 “This week has to be completely focused on team and completely focused on we and that’s what we’re going to get to,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Terry Rozier, one of the more consistent Celtics thus far in the preseason, felt the team needed a couple days off to come back with the right mindset for what’s shaping up to be a critical week.

“At the same time, we gotta get out there and find our way,” Rozier said.

Like most of his Celtics teammates, Rozier has heard and seen and read all about how awesome the Celtics are supposed to be this season.

So have their opponents, which is why it’s a given that Boston’s foes will approach every matchup with a heightened level of focus, force and intensity with one goal in mind: knocking off the Celtics.

The Celtics know they’re going to get the best punch from every team on the schedule.

But knowing that and responding to it, as we saw in the preseason by the Celtics, is an entirely different matter.

Boston has established itself as a gritty club that more nights than not, found ways to claw itself to victory.

But now as a prohibitive favorite almost every time they step on the floor, recognizing the change and handling it properly remains a challenge they’re going to have to work through here in the preseason in order to have the kind of season they envision for themselves.

“We feel like we arrived or something, like we won something,” Rozier said. “Teams know that, people talking about us every time you turn on the TV. So, that’s going to motivate them to beat us, second string, third string, it don’t matter who it is. So, we have to stay grounded and go back to playing Boston Celtics basketball and who we are instead of thinking we’re above everybody.”

Stevens added, “We’ll see if we’re good enough next week or 10 days from now and then it will start,” Stevens said. “If you’re not good enough, you’re in trouble.”


Rozier: It’s tough when I don’t get the minutes I want

Rozier: It’s tough when I don’t get the minutes I want

Terry Rozier talks about how it is tough when he doesn't get the minutes he is expecting, but says that Brad Stevens has the hardest job out of anyone.

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Brad Stevens treasures visit, annual letters from Bob Cousy

Brad Stevens treasures visit, annual letters from Bob Cousy

BOSTON — The letter arrives late spring each year with the now-familiar handwriting and the Worcester postmark. As Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens decompresses from a season recently completed, the contents inside bring him immeasurable joy. 

For each of the past five years, Celtics legend Bob Cousy has sent Stevens a handwritten note at the end of each season, applauding what Stevens and his teams have accomplished. For all the success he’s enjoyed in his short tenure as Celtics coach and all the praise that’s been heaped upon him, Stevens still marvels when those letters from Cousy arrive.

"Just ridiculous when you get a letter from Bob Cousy, and then you see it’s from Worcester. It’s kinda like it’s not real,” Stevens told NBC Sports Boston on Tuesday after 90-year-old Cousy made the 40-mile trek to speak to the 2018-19 Celtics.

"And then you read the letters, and you hear more about his reading, and his writing, and how much time he spends doing that. How much personal letters mean to him. And you pinch yourself.”

Stevens is quick to point out that Cousy is more than the Houdini of the Hardwood, with his league-changing point guard skills, and a six-time NBA champion. He is also a former coach, having spent 10 years on the sideline, first collegiately at Boston College then in the NBA with the Cincinnati Royals.


Cousy might have posted a lackluster 141-209 record as an NBA coach but maybe that makes him appreciate more what Stevens has done early in his career, particularly while the Celtics built their current roster.

“After each season, I have dropped him a note just congratulating him because, in my judgment, the basic criteria for a successful coach on any level of team sports is to simply get the most out of the materials you have to work with,” Cousy said this week during an appearance on NBC Sports Boston’s Celtics Talk podcast.

"Each year, I just congratulate him on what the team has accomplished that year and said, ‘Brad, I don’t know if they are going to give you the Coach of the Year award, but I want you to know that you’ve got Bob Cousy’s coach of the year award.”

Stevens, who sent letters to all Celtics alumni after being hired in 2013, and Cousy bonded over their snail-mail exchanges. Two years ago, Stevens made a summer trek to Worcester to sit down with Cousy and talk more about their shared passions.

That Stevens would venture to his neck of the woods resonated with Cousy, who still playfully teases those that view outside 495 as another civilization.

“[Celtics vice president of media relations and alumni relations] Jeff Twiss brought Brad out to Woo-ster, Mass.,” said Cousy, mimicking the oft-butchered pronunciation of his beloved city before playfully adding, “As you know, we still have Indian uprisings in Framingham, so you can only get through once or twice per week, but Jeff and Brad did.”

The visit still resonates with Stevens.

"We always talk about a love of learning. And how many books does he read a week? He’s an amazing thinker, he’s sharp,” Stevens said of Cousy, who sometimes spends five hours per day reading books of all variety, especially biographies and espionage thrillers. 

“[Cousy] was the highest of high achievers, just that warrior mindset he’s taken with him off the court and into life. It’s pretty impressive.”

Cousy’s visit coincided with the release of a book, “The Last Pass,” by author Gary Pomerantz that chronicles Cousy’s complex relationship with former teammate Bill Russell. In it, Cousy expresses his regret at not being a better friend to Russell as he dealt with racial tensions.

“For a basketball history buff, that is a must read in my eyes,” said Stevens. "And [Pomerantz] and Cousy came today, and Bob spoke to the team a little bit in our video room. It's the first time a lot of these guys have gotten a chance -- maybe all of these guys -- have gotten a chance to sit down with him. What he shared was great. And just appreciative of him to take that time. 

"I've said this many times before: it's one thing to have all those banners hanging above you, but when those guys come in and they’re at a game or at a practice or whatever, you just kind of say, ‘Man.' In a lot of ways, we have a lot of responsibility to the uniform we're putting on.”

As the Celtics embark on a season with great expectations, point guard Terry Rozier said Cousy’s message reminded the team of the responsibility it has to those that came before them.

"It was just great to hear him talk, share his stories about how things were so much different back then, and just basically how this organization has so much behind it,” said Rozier. "We’re not just playing for the names on the back, we’re playing for the name on the front. We’ve got a lot to represent. So just to hear him talk and hear that again was great.”

Later Rozier added, "You just read a little bit of his book. He’s an All-Star, champion, [six] championships, and he’s still talking about how he could have did more. So when you just hear a guy talk like that, just his unselfishness and his love for the game is just crazy. It’s something that could take you a long way. And obviously they weren’t getting the money that we’re getting back then. It’s just crazy. They set the tone for this to happen now, for the Boston Celtics to be how it is now.”

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