Celtics

Jaylen Brown predicts he will have five rings by age 28

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Jaylen Brown predicts he will have five rings by age 28

Jaylen Brown leads the league in confidence.

With the Celtics only 10 games into their quest to bring home their first championship since 2008, Brown already has his mind set on a dynasty.

The 22-year-old sat down with Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report and was asked how many rings he expects to have by the time he turns 28. Brown responded by saying he "doesn't play to lose" and had his own LeBron James moment.

That's right, Celtics fans. Brown predicts five banners in the next six years. Not one, not two, not three, not four. . .

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Celtics veterans embracing TackoMania -- and all the rookie good vibes

Celtics veterans embracing TackoMania -- and all the rookie good vibes

BOSTON — Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown exploded from their seats and screamed about as loud as anyone inside a delirious TD Garden. Behind them, Marcus Smart clambered onto their vacant bench chairs and threw his hands to the sky, nearly tumbling over in his giddiness.

“I was just trying to be the same height as Tacko [Fall],” cracked Smart, referencing the 7-foot-7 big man whose second slam of the night turned the Celtics bench into human popcorn.

Moments earlier, the Garden had roared with playoff-like intensity when Fall, formally signed to a 2-way contract Sunday morning, got behind a pair of defenders and delivered an emphatic two-handed slam. Kemba Walker, Boston’s All-Star offseason signee, wrapped one arm around the neck of Smart and the other around Jaylen Brown, then lifted his feet off the ground and swung with the joy of a young child.

On a night the Celtics led by as much as 54 en route to a lopsided 118-72 triumph over the visiting Cavaliers, the veterans on the bench seemed to enjoy rooting for the rookies maybe more than building the lead.

Yes, part of the hysteria was the inescapable pull of TackoMania. It was Smart who, when coach Brad Stevens called for Fall to enter, stood up beside him and repeatedly implored the Garden crowd to get loud as Fall headed to the scorer’s table.

But Smart said the reason for Boston’s unbridled joy in watching its youngest players succeed goes beyond just Fall. The Celtics have eight rookies competing for roster spots in camp and seven of them could make the final 17-man roster. The bigger picture: Some of those first-year players are going to have to contribute when games are tenser than a breezy preseason matinee.

"I learned as a young guy coming in, confidence is big,” said Smart. "And we’re trying to give our young guys as much confidence as they can handle, as much as they need, as much as we can give because we’re going to need them. We got a lot of new faces out there, a lot of young new faces. We need these guys to have as much confidence as they can because, when things get tight, we need that confidence to keep going.

“But we’re really excited for those guys.”

So with every Max Strus 3-pointer — and there were four of them — the veterans sprang to their feet in support. Every time Tremont Waters channeled his inner-Isaiah Thomas while probing his way to the hoop for a leaning finger roll, the veterans snapped their towels in excitement.

"That’s what it’s about. That’s what a team is about,” said Smart. "Everybody succeeds. Those guys have worked hard, so it’s only right for us to go out there and cheer those guys on, because they do the same for us.”

The camaraderie of the rookies is palpable on this squad. It’s also manifested itself in a shared work ethic and a desire to improve, which hasn’t been lost on Stevens.

“[Strus], Javonte [Green], Tacko, Waters and obviously the guys we drafted, [Romeo] Langford and [Carsen] Edwards and [Grant] Williams, that's as good of a group of rookie workers as I've ever been around,” said Stevens. "They work. They all can play and they all have a good impact on our environment, which is important.

"Those guys — those guys grind. They are hard workers.”

Given the departures this summer, the Celtics will have to lean on those rookies. Williams and French import Vincent Poirier will get minutes in a new-look frontcourt, while Edwards has proven himself capable of scoring from the instant he comes off the bench. Injuries will only open more avenues for these young players to see court time in their first NBA seasons.

The younger players appreciate the way the veterans are trying to instill an early confidence.

"It’s a team game, so we’re all in it together,” said Strus, who signed a partially guaranteed deal Sunday and then put forth his best in-game case for earning the 15th roster spot. "We work together every day, non-stop. We all look out for each other and we cheer for [the veterans], they cheer for us, and it’s great to have that camaraderie on this team.”

It’s almost too easy to point to this start-of-the-year chemistry and suggest how different it is from last season when there, at times, seemed to be a divide between the “young guys,” and more established veterans. But these Celtics have worked hard to avoid comparisons between this year and last, and their actions this season are simply an understanding that everyone needs to be pulling in the same direction if this team is going to outkick the already tempered expectations.

There’s still an excitement at what this team can become and some of that will be dictated by how much younger players improve, and how much they can handle from the jump. Impossibly, players like Walker and Brown have flown quietly under the radar this preseason because some rookies have taken much of the spotlight, which amuses Stevens.

"Everybody’s flying under the radar except for Tacko,” cracked the coach. "So, that’s OK. We’ll take that.”

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Tacko Fall gets a two-way contract, which means TackoMania is on the move to Maine

Tacko Fall gets a two-way contract, which means TackoMania is on the move to Maine

BOSTON -- From Senegal to Houston to the state of Florida and now Boston, Tacko Fall is no stranger to being on the move. 

But according to Tacko, he’d much rather some semblance of stability. 

“I’m not the type of person that really likes to move around a lot,” Fall said.

The Celtics feel the same way about Tacko whose Exhibit 10 contract has been converted to a two-way deal which means Tacko will split time between Boston’s G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, in addition to being able to be with the Celtics for as many as 45 days this season. 

“I feel really comfortable here,” Fall said after Boston’s 118-72 blowout win over Cleveland in which he had four points, two rebounds and two assists. “I’ve gotten close to all the guys on the team; everybody, the staff, I get along with everyone. I’m fortunate to keep my journey here.”

But it’s the Celtics players and coaching staff that feels fortunate to have Fall as part of the team. 

Much of the adulation Fall has received from fans has to do with his 7-foot-7 frame, but at the end of the day the Celtics’ focus has to be on developing him as a basketball player. 

“The biggest thing is just keep working, keep your nose down and keep getting better,” Stevens said. “And he’s got a lot of things that he can do that you can’t teach; that’s obvious. But he also has to really get up to the speed of the NBA.”

Like all rookies coming into the NBA, one of the early challenges is figuring out a pace at which they can play and still be effective. 

“That’s something you get used to over time,” Stevens said. “And he will and he will be in the league for a long time and we’re happy that he’s with us.”

His teammates feel the same way. 

Celtics rookie Romeo Langford is part of the Celtics’ large rookie contingent, full of players who have been around one another most of the summer as well as this fall at the Celtics’ training camp facility. 

When they heard the news that Fall was going to be signed to a two-way contract, there was a collective joy felt by all. 

“It means a lot. We’ve been, me and Tacko, really all of us rookies, we’ve been together this whole time this summer,” Langford told NBC Sports Boston. “Tacko, he’s put in a lot of work. He deserves this. He’s been in here; ever since the draft, he’s been in here busting his butt, getting better. He deserves to be here.”

While signing him as the team’s 15th man was an option, having him spend most of his time in the G-League is really in both his best interest and that of the Celtics. 

As the 15th man, there was likely to be very little time for Fall on the floor this season. But being with the Maine Red Claws, playing time will be significantly more abundant which can only help his development and growth in the NBA. 

“It’s always better to be on the court than be on the bench,” said Fall, grinning. 

And for fans who want to make the trek to Maine to see Fall play, you’re best bet to see him will indeed be at the games. 

Considering where he lived prior to coming to the United States when he was 16 and where he lived in the US prior to coming to Boston, it’s fair to say that the 23-year-old will have to adjust to being in a more northern, colder climate. 

“We’ll see. I probably won’t be out of my house much,” Fall said. 

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