Celtics

On his second visit as a Celtic, Kemba Walker still gets lots of love from Hornets faithful

On his second visit as a Celtic, Kemba Walker still gets lots of love from Hornets faithful

BOSTON -- With a commanding 18-point lead with a little more than two minutes to play, Kemba Walker went to the bench for one last time this decade. 

As he walked past his teammates, high-fiving them along the way, he was serenaded by the Charlotte Hornets fans still at the game, appreciative of what he meant to them in his eight seasons as a Hornet. 

“People are going to react like that forever,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters after Boston's 109-92 New Year's Eve win. “Whether it’s here or Storrs, [Connecticut]…He’s a special guy and an awfully good player. He’s been really good for us.”

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And that is what makes Walker’s ovation so special with the Hornets faithful showing their respect for what he meant to the team in his time in Charlotte.

But that’s in the past now. 

Walker is with a new team, has a new mission and is showcasing that he’s more than just a high-scoring guard in the NBA but also one who can score a ton while racking up wins in the process. 

He was among the Celtics who stood out in the victory over the Hornets (13-23) as Boston (23-8) got back on the winning track after losing at home to Toronto on Saturday. 

And so, the Celtics move on to the next decade of play, one that will be led in part by Walker, who closed out 2019 with a strong, 24-point, seven-assist  game in Charlotte - a fitting end to the decade as Walker and the Celtics look ahead to bigger and better things in the future. 

GORDON HAYWARD

This was the kind of game that reinforces why Hayward is such an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to Boston’s success this year. 

He scored 21 points on an efficient 9-for-14 shooting, hauled down 10 boards for his third double-double this season. He also managed to dish out six assists.

As the Celtics continue to shuffle bodies in and out of the rotation due to injuries, a healthy Hayward provides the kind of comfort that will allow Boston to continue to surge up the standings even at less than full strength. 

JAYSON TATUM

There is an undeniable growth in Tatum’s game, and it’s not just him scoring more points, either. 

He’s doing a much better job of probing defenses for the best shot for himself or others, doing it with a level of patience that we have not seen from him at the level of consistency we’ve seen in recent weeks. 

It bodes well for his goals of ascending to being one of the best two-way players in the NBA. 

He’s not there yet. 

But the ease at which he scored a team-high 24 points on 10-for-18 shooting against Charlotte is impressive. 

ENES KANTER

Earlier this season, Kanter was focused on his younger teammates doing well and gaining some confidence. Well, let’s just say Kanter is being a bit more greedy these days. 

Kanter had a double-double of 13 points and 14 rebounds to go with a career-high six blocked shots on Tuesday. According to Elias Sports Bureau, it's the first time a C's reserve has produced those numbers (13 or more points, 14 or more rebounds, six or more blocks) in a game.  

Kanter’s play comes at a time when the Celtics are extremely thin at center. He was going to play a major role on this team regardless of who else was available. But to his credit, Kanter has found that nice balance between mentoring the young bigs on the Celtics while still making a major impact with his play. 

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Celtics will return to limited practice routine starting June 1

Celtics will return to limited practice routine starting June 1

The Boston Celtics will move one step closer towards preparing for the remainder of this season, with voluntary individual player workouts beginning at the team’s practice facility on June 1. 

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Friday that professional teams in the state could resume practicing soon. 

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“I know we still aren’t to the point where we’ll have our pro sports teams back playing anything yet,” Baker said in a press conference at the State House. “The leagues are obviously working hard to host games again. And I think we all hope that at some point, opening practice facilities will help make that happen a little sooner.”

Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ President of Basketball Operations, echoed similar sentiments on Friday. 

“We’re happy that our players will now have the option to work out individually in a safe environment at the Auerbach Center,” Ainge said. “And we hope it signals a step back towards playing basketball again.”

The Celtics added that the workouts will adhere to strict protocols that include but are not limited to the following:

  • Workouts are voluntary & will be conducted in strict accordance with city, state, CDC, and NBA requirements and guidelines.
  • Symptom and temperature checks will be done by team medical staff before anyone enters the facility.
  • Workouts will be limited to individual (1-on-0) shooting, strength and conditioning work, and medical evaluation and therapy as needed.
  • Only essential areas will be accessed. There will be no access to locker rooms, showers, hydrotherapy, medical exam rooms, cafeteria, and offices.
  • Only four players will be able to work out at a time, each working with only one staff member at a time. There will be no more than one player per half court at a time.
  • All staff members will wear masks in the building, and any staff member working with a player must wear gloves. Players will wear masks except while engaging in physical activity. Players and staff will adhere to CDC and NBA compliant social distancing standards at all times.
  • Social distancing will be required in the building except in limited specific instances  (e.g. physical therapy), when PPE will be used.
  • A thorough cleaning and disinfection of all spaces and equipment, including basketballs, will take place before and after each player uses the building.
  • Only staff members essential to these workouts will be present at the Auerbach Center. There will be no access for general staff, public, or media. 

While no definitive date has been set for the NBA to resume play, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has reportedly told owners that the league is targeting July 31 as a return-to-play date. 

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NBA rumors: July 31 is a target date for 2019-20 season return

NBA rumors: July 31 is a target date for 2019-20 season return

Could we see the return of NBA basketball at the end of July?

The Athletic's Shams Charania has reported the league told its Board of Governors on Friday that July 31 is a potential target date for the resumption of the 2019-20 season.

Charania also reported the league discussed four return to play scenarios ranging from going directly to the playoffs with 16 teams to bringing back all 30 teams and having them play 72 regular season games (most teams already have played around 65) before the postseason. The latter scenario doesn't seem likely, though.

If the season does resume, the remaining games (including the playoffs) could be played at one location to minimize travel and maximize the safety and health of players, team employees and everyone else involved. One such location reportedly being considered is Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida.

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It's important to remember nothing has been announced by the league, and plenty of details must be sorted out before games can start up again. This news of a potential target date for a season return is encouraging, though.