Celtics

Celtics' talent, leadership on display with Team USA basketball

Celtics' talent, leadership on display with Team USA basketball

With four players on the Team USA roster, we all knew that the Boston Celtics would have a major influence on the squad. 

Well now it’s official with Team USA’s triumvirate of captains including a pair of Celtics — Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart. 

UPDATE (Friday, Aug. 23 at 12:34 p.m. ET by Nick Goss): It appears Team USA doesn't have official captains, but we should still expect Walker and Smart to have strong leadership roles on the squad.

--End of Update--

They along with Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, are charged with leading a team that has lost a lot of its star power with several key players opting to not play for a variety of reasons.

"We have a bunch of guys who don't mind being the underdogs,” Walker told reporters. “We are hungry, and we are going to go out there to try and win a gold medal...I take pride in being a leader and guys looking to me and I'm here to set the tempo and bring my experience and energy."

Walker is arguably the best player on the team, so it’s no surprise that he’s a captain. Mitchell being named a captain isn’t a shock either, when you consider how he came in as a rookie and showed tremendous ability as a leader with the Jazz and has continued to build off that success. 

But Smart’s selection as a captain speaks to why his brand of leadership goes beyond the box score. 

He has been nursing a calf injury, which has not allowed him to get on the floor as much as he would like. He did not play (coaches decision) in Team USA’s 102-86 exhibition win over Australia on Thursday morning.

But whether he’s on or off the court, Smart’s leadership with Team USA is steady — something the Celtics are looking forward to seeing on display this season.  

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Celtics 'thrilled' for new Duke women's head coach Kara Lawson

Celtics 'thrilled' for new Duke women's head coach Kara Lawson

The Boston Celtics are sad to see Kara Lawson go, but ecstatic to see her begin a new chapter as head coach of the Duke University women's basketball program.

Lawson, who joined the C's prior to this season and became the first female assistant coach in franchise history, was officially welcomed aboard by Duke on Saturday. Former Duke star Jayson Tatum promptly congratulated her on the exciting opportunity, and several C's followed suit after their practice Sunday.

"We’re thrilled for her," said head coach Brad Stevens. "I don’t want to take away from her press conference tomorrow before she gets more of a chance to talk about it. I can’t say enough about what a terrific person, terrific coach, she’ll be a great fit at Duke with their incredible tradition.

"She’s really excited. We actually went on a walk – Kara, [Stevens’ wife] Tracy and I – a couple of months ago. And we were talking about what she’d be interested in the future, and being the head coach at Duke was one of the things that came up. So it’s really cool that she’s getting a chance to do that. She’ll be terrific."

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Even after just one season, Lawson has made a tremendous impact on Boston's players. Celtics big man Robert Williams opened up about how Lawson was a positive influence both on and off the court.

"Kara is always known for putting a smile on players' faces," Williams said. "She stays in your ear, even though she may not be your personal coach she always keeps asking how I'm doing and if there's anything I need to talk about, so I feel like Duke is going to get a great head coach. We're going to miss her. We don't want her to go, but it's on to bigger and better opportunities."

Smart echoed Williams' sentiments, calling Lawson a "friend" and someone he had a connection with since she was hired by the Celtics last summer.

"When Kara first got here, actually, and this is why our bond has been strong, she had the option to work with anybody. Brad gave her the option to choose who she wanted to work with, and the first person she chose with me," said Smart. "When she told Brad the reason why, she just liked the way I play my whole game. So that really hit home for me and it meant a lot. And like I said our relationship just built amongst that and she became more than just my shooting coach, she became a longtime friend and somebody I know I can talk to if I ever need advice.”

Lawson starred as a player at the University of Tennessee and went on to have 13 successful seasons in the WNBA. She served as an NBA and WNBA analyst for ESPN before joining the Celtics' coaching staff.

If what the C's had to say about Lawson is any indication, there's no doubt she will do great things for Duke as it aims to make its way back into the NCAA Tournament.

Kemba Walker held out of Celtics' first 'hard practice'

Kemba Walker held out of Celtics' first 'hard practice'

The Boston Celtics' plan to ease Kemba Walker back into the flow of things was on full display Sunday as Walker (knee) was held out for all of the team’s first "hard practice" since the team entered the Orlando Bubble as part of the NBA's return to play.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said this is part of the team’s plan of progression in working Walker back into being at his best physically for the playoffs, so that the stop-and-start state of his play won’t be the case by the time Boston gets to the postseason.

Walker has been among the most durable players in the NBA for years.

But this season, the 30-year-old has missed 16 games, most of which were due to left knee soreness. To put that in perspective, Walker missed just four games the four previous seasons combined.

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Without Walker, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens liked a lot of what he saw on Sunday in what was the team’s first hard practice. 

“Guys really got after it,” Stevens said.

He anticipates another hard practice on Monday with a day off on Tuesday. 

Walker is in the first year of a four-year, $141 million deal he signed after spending his first eight NBA seasons in Charlotte. 

This season, he is Boston’s No. 2 scorer with a 21.2 points per game average along with dishing out 4.9 assists while grabbing 4.1 rebounds.