Celtics players express hope for speedy recovery for Danny Ainge

Celtics players express hope for speedy recovery for Danny Ainge

BOSTON — Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge suffered a mild heart attack Tuesday in Milwaukee but received immediate medical attention and is expected to make a full recovery.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens informed players of Ainge’s medical scare before Thursday’s practice and said Ainge is feeling better and resting in Milwaukee. The team expects him to travel back to Boston soon.

"Been in constant communication with his family. He’s resting well and feels better,” said Stevens. "Obviously, always scary but he’s got a good support network. Obviously, expect a full recovery and he’s feeling good. So that’s all positive. Certainly scary.”

The news comes as the Celtics prepare for a critical Game 3 against the Milwaukee Bucks, but Stevens admitted it offered a dose of perspective.

"I think that this is much bigger than basketball so Game 3 is Game 3,” said Stevens. “Obviously you always want to play your best at this time of year, obviously he really cares about the result, we all really care about the result, but this is a game. That’s what it is.”

Ainge, who turned 60 in March, suffered a mild heart attack in April 2009, spending a few days of recovery at Massachusetts General Hospital before being released.

The team was tight-lipped with details about the incident on Tuesday, at the request of the Ainge family, with Stevens simply noting it happened before Game 2, but that Ainge was fortunate to have doctors around to attend to him. Players seemed unaware of the issue until Thursday.

"Very scary. I just found out today,” said Jayson Tatum. "I heard he’s doing well. I’m going to reach out to him after practice.

Echoed Marcus Smart: “We just heard about it before practice, but I’m going to give him a call and see how he’s doing and how everybody else is. If Danny was here, he’d want us focusing on being ready. So we’re still trying to stay focused.”

Still, players acknowledged that Ainge was on their minds.

"What he's going through is more important than any game we are playing,” said Tatum. "He’s doing better and I know he wants us to go out and compete. Game 3 is important to us and very important to him and everyone in our organization.”

Echoed Smart: "The concern is what it would be for anybody. Anything serious that you’re dealing with your health is something that is real concerning. But he has great help and doctors are going to take great care of him. They said he’s resting now and he’s going to make a full recovery. He’s got to get his rest and continue to recover.”

Smart, the longest-tenured Celtics player, who has one of the tightest bonds with Ainge, is rooting for a quick recovery.

"Danny is just one of those guys who takes time out of his life, his day when he’s doing his schedule to make sure you’re all right,” said Smart. "He constantly checks in on us, my family, and things like that. Just personally for me he’s been another mentor for me. From when I first got here Danny was the person I see every day and am talking to, so he means a lot to my life as well. So like I said, I just hope he has a speedy recovery.”


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Isaiah Thomas jokingly vows to never play defense again after thumb injury

Isaiah Thomas jokingly vows to never play defense again after thumb injury

Isaiah Thomas' latest attempt to return to NBA stardom suffered a setback this week when he suffered a thumb injury, which is expected to keep him sidelined for six to eight weeks.

The veteran point guard, who signed with the Washington Wizards in July, tweeted Wednesday he suffered the injury playing defense. 

You have to give Thomas credit for injecting a little humor into what is obviously a difficult situation for him.

Thomas quickly became a beloved figure in Boston despite his short tenure with the Celtics. He suffered a hip injury playing for the C's during the 2016-17 season, and he was dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of the trade that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston in August of 2017. Thomas has struggled to stay healthy and regain his All-Star form since that trade, and the the Wizards will be his fourth team since leaving Boston.

It's safe to say the basketball world is rooting hard for Thomas to make a successful comeback from his latest injury.

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who visits the hardware store?

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who visits the hardware store?

For Day 3 of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our panel to take a trip to the hardware store and predict which Celtics player might bring home some of the NBA’s hardware by winning a postseason award.

Outside of maybe only Most Valuable Player, there’s an argument to be made that a Celtics player, coach, or executive could muscle their way into the conversation for the league’s other top honors. Alas, you’d have to rewind to the 2007-2008 season to find the last time the Celtics found themselves in that spotlight when Kevin Garnett won Defensive Player of the Year and Danny Ainge was Executive of the Year.

Celtics players haven’t muscled their way into the voting much in recent seasons. Last year, only Marcus Smart charted on an award while finishing eighth in Defensive Player of the Year. Jayson Tatum was third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2017-18, while Al Horford was fifth in Defensive Player of the Year balloting that season. Isaiah Thomas was fifth in both MVP and Most Improved voting for the 2016-17 campaign.

But if the Celtics are to outkick most prognosticator’s expectations this season, they’ll need someone on their roster to at least vault into the conversation for these awards.

So who is most likely to earn themselves a shiny trophy?

Our vote went to Marcus Smart for Sixth Man of the Year. With the glut of wing depth this season, we believe there’s a strong chance that Smart will initially shuffle back to his familiar bench role, allowing coach Brad Stevens to trot out a versatile starting lineup featuring Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and a big (with Enes Kanter the early favorite to hold that starter job initially).

Stevens has long preferred to deploy Smart in a reserve role, allowing Smart to set the tone for the second unit while also providing another ball-handler for the second group. The Celtics went away from that last season when Smart elevated from a bench role in November and started 60 games overall. Kyrie Irving routinely advocated for Smart, noting how much he enjoyed playing alongside him at the start of games, which only solidified Smart’s spot with the first unit.

A similar script could certainly unfold this season. But it would be the most Marcus Smart thing if he’s the player that embraces shuffling to the second unit and allows Hayward, Tatum, and Brown to play with the first group.

Yes, the Sixth Man award tends to honor a high-scoring player on one of the league’s top teams. But if the Celtics overachieve this season, there will be extra attention on the player(s) that spearheaded the second unit. Smart, with his All-Defense pedigree and improving offensive efficiency, could dive into the conversation for Sixth Man the same way he pounces on a loose ball.

Abby Chin: Gordon Hayward, Sixth Man of the Year

I believe Hayward will be almost — if not fully — back to his Utah self this season. But, with the glut of talent on the wing, and Hayward's ability to facilitate the offense on that second unit, it might make the most sense for him to come off the bench again. I think Hayward will finish games on the court, he just may not start there.


Sherrod Blakely: Brad Stevens, Coach of the Year

The Celtics will finish with a record that exceeds the expectations of many, and will include wins over East favorites Philly and Milwaukee.


Max Lederman: Gordon Hayward, Most Improved

Hayward has been in the lab all summer working on getting back to the player he was before the injury. He had a few flashes last season, but was a shell of his former self. I know this award tends to go to a young breakout player but I think a really strong start to the season could make some folks consider taking a different approach with their votes.

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