Celtics

Here's the key to the Celtics taking over the Eastern Conference

Here's the key to the Celtics taking over the Eastern Conference

Now 24 games into the season, the Boston Celtics are holding their own in a competitive Eastern Conference.

The C's (17-7) currently hold a fourth-place spot behind the Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, and Philadelphia 76ers. The play of Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown -- along with the newfound team chemistry -- has inspired confidence in this year's squad. But what's the key to them establishing their dominance in the East?

One area the Celtics could look to improve is at the center position. Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love reportedly has been connected to the C's in trade discussions, but a deal seems unlikely. So assuming the C's don't make any additions, how can they compete with the Joel Embiids and Giannis Antetokounmpos of the world?

On the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast, A. Sherrod Blakely explains how Boston's success down the stretch depends on the play of its current group of big men.

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"For you to get out of the East, you have to look at the teams at the top and you're talking about Philadelphia, you're talking about Milwaukee, Toronto to an extent, Indiana," Blakely said. "You know that basically you can cobble together guys at that middle position that can hold their own against those guys. It's what can the Jaylen Browns, the Jayson Tatums, the Kemba Walkers... those are the guys that are your foundation -- Gordon Hayward. They have to carry you to success.

"If the guys at the center position can just hold their own, you don't have to be great -- you don't have to be all-world, you don't have to be able to dominate Anthony Davis anything like that, you just have to be solid and let those other guys handle their business. That can get you out of the East, but championship? I don't think so..."

Blakely, Chris Forsberg, and Abby Chin also discuss their confidence level in the Celtics this season, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown's starts to the 2019-20 campaign, and much more.

Listen to the full episode below:

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Enes Kanter endorses former teammate, Rudy Gobert, for NBA All-Star Game

Enes Kanter endorses former teammate, Rudy Gobert, for NBA All-Star Game

Enes Kanter has been nothing but supportive of his Boston Celtics teammates since joining the squad this summer.

Whether it's been mentoring Tacko Fall or advocating for his young teammates Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to make the All-Star Game, Kanter has had an impact on the C's

And evidently, Kanter's support even extends to former teammates..

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On Saturday night, Kanter took to Twitter to implore NBA coaches to pick Rudy Gobert for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game. Kanter and Gobert were teammates for a season and a half together with the Utah Jazz before Kanter was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Gobert's performance against the Dallas Mavericks prompted Kanter's tweet. In the Saturday contest, Gobert totaled 22 points, 17 boards, and five blocks, including a game-winning one at the end of regulation.

Despite his defensive prowess, Gobert has never made an All-Star appearance. He has two Defensive Player of the Year awards and two All-NBA nods, but the All-Star appearance has eluded him.

Given that Gobert is averaging 15.6 points, 14.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks per game, and is shooting 68.3 percent from the field, it probably should be his year to make it. We'll see if Kanter's tweet has any influence on the minds of the coaches voting for All-Star reserves.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pelicans, which begins Sunday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 6 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

How Tremont Waters, Romeo Langford fared for Red Claws vs. Westchester Knicks

How Tremont Waters, Romeo Langford fared for Red Claws vs. Westchester Knicks

The Maine Red Claws came into the Westchester County Center Saturday night looking to extend their win streak to three. No strangers to furious late-game rallies of late, Maine got another such scare just when things were looking comfy. 

The Westchester Knicks seized control in the fourth quarter, using a 14-2 run to take a 97-94 lead with six minutes to go. But that momentum was short-lived. Sparked by a three-pointer from 2019 second-round pick Tremont Waters, the Claws closed the game out on a 16-6 run to give them their 10th win in 11 games.

Here's a look at Waters and 2019 first-round pick Romeo Langford’s best highlights, and their final stat lines.

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TREMONT WATERS

As usual, the rookie from LSU — who grew up in New Haven, just an hour north of the Knicks’ arena in White Plains, N.Y. — was one of Maine’s steadiest. With an effective field goal percentage of 63 and a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, he took command when the Claws needed him most. He finished with 21 points and six rebounds, all of them defensive.

ROMEO LANGFORD

It wasn’t a pretty night for Langford, who started the evening 2 for 10 from the floor and finished 33 percent shooting for 14 points. But despite the lack of stat sheet appeal, he was a team-high plus-14 in 33 minutes.

After Waters, the two most productive nights belonged to Yante Maten and Kaiser Gates. Maten, the former SEC Player of the Year at Georgia, was 8 for 12 from the floor for a team-high 23 points and nine rebounds despite being a team-worst minus-6. Gates was 3 for 8 from three-point range and a plus-10, finishing with 15 points and six rebounds.

The Red Claws are now 8-1 in January, good enough for second in the G League’s Eastern Conference. Optimism continues to bloom with this young but talented roster.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pelicans, which begins Sunday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.