Celtics

Enes Kanter Show: Celtics center explains importance of mental strength in NBA bubble

Enes Kanter Show: Celtics center explains importance of mental strength in NBA bubble

The NBA's bubble at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida will provide the players with plenty of fun activities -- bowling, golf, movies, video games and ping pong, among others -- in their spare time. This doesn't mean the environment will be without challenges, though.

The Boston Celtics traveled down to Orlando on Wednesday night, and they will be staying at the Gran Destino Tower during the league's restart.

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Not every player will be in perfect basketball shape once practices ramp up soon. That's understandable, and it's a challenge the players eventually will overcome. The mental challenges will be the most important -- and maybe the toughest -- to battle through given the uniqueness of the situation. 

In the latest episode of the The Enes Kanter Show podcast, Celtics center Enes Kanter explained the importance of mental strength in the league's bubble.

"All we have to do is get in game shape. We all know how to play basketball. It's like riding a bike -- you can't forget how to play basketball," Kanter said. "You can be a little rusty and get back into shape. But I think the important thing is the mental part because you're away from your family and loved ones for three months and now all you have is your basketball family and coaches. That's why the 3-month period before Orlando was so important to keep building that chemistry. I think now we're all bonding and the chemistry is really good. We all care about each other. We're just going to go out there and play golf, go bowling and fish all day, and other than that just play basketball. I feel, besides from the games, you can actually just relax. Read a book, just invest in yourself."

Enes Kanter Show: C's center gives first impressions of NBA bubble | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

The bubble was made to ensure the players can continue playing in an environment that's as safe and as healthy as possible amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Players won't have the same freedom they normally do on the road, and the teams that are mentally tough and well prepared likely will enjoy the most success in Orlando.

Kanter is in no mood to complain. He's going to make the most out of the opportunity to compete for a championship, and you can bet his Celtics teammates will have a similar attitude. 

"Love it or hate, you're going to be here for three months," Kanter said. "So you might as well look at the positive side of it.

Check out The Enes Kanter Show on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or watch on YouTube below:

After Robert Williams' huge night vs. Nets, what's next for Celtics big man?

After Robert Williams' huge night vs. Nets, what's next for Celtics big man?

We suspect a significant spike in attendance at our next Robert Williams Fan Club meeting after Wednesday night’s performance. Please be sure to check the updated seating assignment for all those attempting to re-board the now socially-distanced Timelord hype train.

The 22-year-old Williams offered a firm reminder of his potential by erupting for a career-best 18 points on 7-of-7 shooting with five rebounds, three blocks, two assists, and a steal in a breezy win over the Brooklyn Nets. Williams was plus-21 over nearly 19 minutes of floor time, which included some surprising first-quarter burn.

Our senior leadership committee will be tasked with determining whether this was Williams’ best game of his NBA career. A November 2019 visit to San Antonio (11 points on 5-of-5 shooting, 7 rebounds, 6 blocks) finally has a challenger for that crown.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Raptors, which begins Friday at 8 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

What we saw Wednesday was the sort of performance that escaped Williams in Boston’s three scrimmages. It’s the sort of performance that none of Boston’s younger players have showcased inside the bubble. Williams and the younger players have rarely left coach Brad Stevens with any reason to ponder a more consistent role.

But Wednesday’s performance will make Stevens think a bit harder about what Williams can offer this team moving forward.

We’ll caution membership from getting too excited about the possibilities. Stevens will not overreact to one performance, particularly not against a Nets team that lacked the energy from its upset over the Bucks the night before. Williams must build off this outing if Stevens is to call on him when the games really matter.

To put it another way, we wouldn’t be surprised if Williams played only sparingly against Toronto on Friday night. But given that none of Boston’s youngest players have stated a strong case for increased playing time entering Wednesday’s game, Williams becomes the first one to submit an application that Stevens must consider (and rookie Romeo Langford, with his continued solid wing defense, has done the same).

Williams did typical Williams things. His first six makes were all at the rim, including a pair of alley-oop finishes (most notably a particularly sexy set play in which Gordon Hayward sprung Williams with a backside screen and Marcus Smart delivered a long-distance lob). Williams capped his night with a 20-foot jumper, showcasing newfound range in a late-clock situation.

His blocks were relatively quiet, at least by his volleyball-spike standards. Williams did come rushing with help to swat a Joe Harris offering across the court, then practically leaped over Langford to swat a Dzanan Musa layup attempt.

Williams played with quick hands on the defensive end. He showcased his passing skills with an ability to spray the ball to cutters and open shooters on the perimeter.

But it’s all about building off a big night. Two games after his big performance in San Antonio, Williams experienced ankle soreness and sat out. He never generated momentum, and injuries have been a primary culprit early in his NBA career. Hip issues in December forced him to the sidelines for three months.

Williams says he’s healthy now and he needs to keep making Stevens think. He has to dominate outside of game action, whether that’s putting in extra work on off days or shining in practices.

The potential is so obviously there. It’s why none of us with real estate on Timelord Island are willing to sell our properties. Williams has the potential to be an X-factor in the postseason. Or he might not play at all. It all comes down to whether he shows enough now for Stevens to trust him, especially on the defensive end.

Williams doesn’t have to be perfect like his shooting chart on Wednesday. But he has to be consistent. But if he keeps maximizing his opportunities, more chances will follow.

Celtics put the league, Raptors on notice after shredding the Nets

Celtics put the league, Raptors on notice after shredding the Nets

BOSTON -- It was one of the most dominant performances we have seen from the Boston Celtics all season. 

The team’s 149-115 win over Brooklyn did more than just pad their record which is the third-best in the East now. 

Consider Wednesday’s whacking of the Nets as a warning shot of sorts to the Toronto Raptors who remain ahead of Boston in the standings and will face the Celtics on Friday in one of the more highly-anticipated games inside the Bubble.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Raptors, which begins Friday at 8 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Brown, who had a game-high 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting, summed up where the Celtics’ mindset is right now.

“Making sure we play the game the right way defensively, being a really, really good team, being a (expletive) to beat going into the playoffs,” Brown said. “We figure that out we’ll be alright.”

The execution level the Celtics were playing at most of the game was the kind of carving job you usually see in a butcher’s shop. 

Jumpers.

Lay-ups.

Dunks.

Deflections. 

The Celtics got anything and everything they wanted from Brooklyn, all game long which served as a reminder that Kyrie Irving … or Kevin Durant … or any player of significance was not coming through that door for Brooklyn which was coming off one of the greatest upsets in decades by defeating the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics were looking to put their loss to the Miami Heat behind them as soon as they could. 

Did. They. Ever.

All 13 players on Boston’s active roster saw at least six minutes of court time on Wednesday with each player scoring at least three points.  

While the Celtics can’t anticipate they will have many more - if any - games like this going forward, the way Boston played at both ends of the floor against the Nets was the kind of performance the Celtics would love to build on going forward. 

And the feel-good vibes that come about with a resounding victory, will certainly be put to the ultimate test against a Toronto team that’s one of the deepest, most talented teams in the NBA. 

Here’s a look at some of the standout performers on Wednesday.

Who’s hot

Jaylen Brown: Arguably the best player for the Celtics since the season restart, Brown was once again causing opponents at both ends of the floor. He led all Celtics with 21 points in the blowout win over Brooklyn. 

Jeremiah Martin: He’s making the most of his opportunity to play decent minutes. The former Memphis Tiger guard who is on a two-way contract with the Nets, led all Brooklyn scorers with 20 points in just under 16 minutes of court time. 

Robert Williams III: It was about as flawless a game as you could imagine Robert Williams III playing. He finished with a career-high 18 points while making all seven of his shot attempts to go with five rebounds, two assists and three blocked shots.

Jayson Tatum: Very efficient scoring the ball tonight before finishing with 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting. 

Romeo Langford: He only had four points but his defense in a near-26 minutes of court time along with his passing, made it easier to understand why he had a team-best plus/minus (+27).

Who’s not

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot: My, how quickly things change. After dropping 26 points in Brooklyn’s historic win over the Milwaukee Bucks, TLC was back on earth scoring just four points. 

Brooklyn defense: For years they have taken great pride in being a scrappy bunch. But on Wednesday, somebody dropped the ‘S’ and because of that, the Nets were dropped hard by the Celtics who scored a season-high 149 points.