Celtics

Danny Ainge defends Kyrie Irving's recent comments with notable context

Danny Ainge defends Kyrie Irving's recent comments with notable context

Kyrie Irving has been talking a lot lately. (Like, a lot.)

But for those who want the Boston Celtics guard to pipe down and stop stirring the pot, Danny Ainge offers a reminder.

In an interview Thursday on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich," the Celtics president of basketball operations defended Irving's recent sit-down interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols that may have ruffled feathers, noting Irving and his teammates are contractually obligated to do media appearances with the network.

"ESPN is our partner. I know that he doesn't do all the things they (ESPN) even ask him to do," Ainge said. "He has to do a lot of media stuff almost daily. So, I don't know if Rachel Nichols was voluntary.

"... If he doesn't do a certain amount of (interviews), then he gets in trouble. So, I wouldn't say they're interviews he's just looking for."

That's important context: It's not like Irving is calling Nichols to request a TV interview or asking reporters to gather around him to discuss his relationship with Kevin Durant.

That said, Irving can control what he says, and he had a specific agenda Wednesday night in bashing the media for over-analyzing the now-famous "hallway video" featuring him and Durant.

Ainge admitted Irving perhaps could have handled his response better but still sympathized with his star guard.

"I do think it's silly that a video becomes a story," Ainge said. "I guess you would expect that a question like that would come up if there's a video out there of them talking.

"But I also understand the perspective of the athlete who is just tired of all the drama and can't do anything without people bugging him about it."

The "drama" that's followed Irving this season is partly of his own making based on what he's told the media (and fans) this season. That Kyrie doesn't necessarily control when he talks to the media is a fact worth considering, however.

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Brad Stevens praises Jayson Tatum: 'He's gotten better since being named an All-Star'

Brad Stevens praises Jayson Tatum: 'He's gotten better since being named an All-Star'

Can we even put into words the type of season Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum is having?

Tatum is receiving some high praise from players and coaches around the NBA, most notably LeBron James calling him a "young king" following his 41-point effort against the Lakers on Sunday. C's coach Brad Stevens joined in before Boston's game against the Trail Blazers in Portland on Tuesday night -- noting that the Tatum party is just getting started.

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"I think he's really doing a great job of recognizing situations," Stevens said. "He's getting more thrown at him every game and, as you can tell, there's a hunger to continue to improve. So, I think the best part about this story is he's had a year worthy of being named an All-Star and he's gotten better since he was named an All-Star. So, those are usually good signs."

The 21-year-old is averaging 22.9 points, 2.9 assists and 7.0 rebounds per game this season while shooting 44.5 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

In the two games since the All-Star break, Tatum is averaging 34.5 points, 2.5 assists and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 48.6 percent from 3-point range. Obviously, it's a very small sample size, but Tatum is showing just how dominant he can become while also giving us a taste of his ability to completely take over games.

Kemba Walker hasn't played since the All-Star Game, which has pushed Tatum to become more of a leader for Boston in key situations. Considering the C's will once again be without Walker on Tuesday night, expect more big things from Tatum.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Trail Blazers, which begins Tuesday at 9 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 10 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

 

Celtics vs. Trail Blazers live stream: How to watch NBA game online

Celtics vs. Trail Blazers live stream: How to watch NBA game online

The Boston Celtics will look to bounce back against the Portland Trailblazers after falling to the Los Angeles Lakers 114-112 on Sunday.

Unfortunately, the C's will once again be without starting point guard Kemba Walker as he'll miss his third game in a row due to knee soreness. Robert Williams remains out of the lineup, but noted it shouldn't be too long until he makes his return.

Boston will be looking to young stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to lead the way in Walker's absence while also hoping Gordon Hayward gets going early after a 29-point performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves last week.

Here's how to watch Celtics vs. Trail Blazers, including NBC Sports Boston's pregame coverage, beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

HOW TO WATCH

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BEFORE THE GAME: At 9 p.m., Celtics Pregame Live presented by TD Bank gets you ready for the game with reports from Kyle Draper, Brian Scalabrine, Michael Holley, Chris Mannix, Chris Forsberg and Abby Chin. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AT HALFTIME: Tune in to watch a breakdown of the first two quarters on Halftime Live presented by Ace Ticket. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

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