Celtics

Kyrie Irving's call-out of struggling Nets may give Celtics fans flashbacks

Kyrie Irving's call-out of struggling Nets may give Celtics fans flashbacks

New city, new teammates, same Kyrie Irving.

Irving's Brooklyn Nets fell 117-106 to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, their eighth loss in 10 games that dropped them to 18-22 on the season.

After the game, Irving was asked how much work the Nets need to do to compete a championship level and gave an honest if rather blunt answer.

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"I mean, it's transparent. It's out there. It's glaring, in terms of the pieces that we need in order to be at that next level," Irving said, via ESPN's Tim Bontemps.

Irving then listed the "pieces" he feels are good fits in Brooklyn after essentially asking the Nets to bring in more talent.

"We're going to do the best with the guys that we have in our locker room now, and we'll worry about all the other stuff, in terms of moving pieces and everything else, as an organization down the line in the summer," Irving said.

"Collectively, I feel like we have great pieces, but it's pretty glaring we need one more piece or two more pieces that will compliment myself, KD [Kevin Durant], DJ [DeAndre Jordan], GT [Garrett Temple], Spencer [Dinwiddie], Caris [LeVert], and we'll see how that evolves."

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Sound familiar, Boston Celtics fans? It should.

Irving took a similar tactic early in the Celtics' 2018-19 season, openly suggesting the team should sign a 14- or -15-year veteran to show Boston's younger players what it takes to win a championship.

Irving's tactic backfired: President of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he was "not even sure" what Irving meant by those comments, while those young Celtics players bristled at the notion they needed a veteran to guide them to championship contention.

Boston's chemistry issues persisted throughout the season, and Irving, finding the situation untenable, bolted to Brooklyn after a second-round playoff exit.

The 27-year-old is still intent on playing GM, though -- even though much of the Nets' struggles stem from him playing just 14 games this season while Durant is out for the whole year.

Will the Brooklyn players Irving didn't name as "great pieces" take offense to his comments Wednesday? Time will tell, but history suggests this isn't the best way to motivate your teammates.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Bucks, which begins Thursday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

Enes Kanter Show podcast: Back from break healthy, preparing for boos in Utah

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Enes Kanter Show podcast: Back from break healthy, preparing for boos in Utah

It's a 28-game dash to the playoffs for the Boston Celtics that begins in Minnesota Friday night and Enes Kanter is focused on one key element as the C's return to the court for the first time since the weeklong All-Star break.

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"Please stay healthy," the Celtics big man told Chris Forsberg on the latest episode of The Enes Kanter Show podcast. "If we all stay healthy, we can beat every team on every floor."

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When we last saw Kanter, he was limping off the floor late in the C's double-overtime victory over the Clippers. He's been bothered by a hip injury but he said he'll be good to go Friday. 

Also on the mend from a hip issue is fellow big man Robert Williams. Though he won't play on Boston's upcoming four-game trip, Williams has had his practice restrictions lifted and Kanter liked what he saw Wednesday as the C's got back to work.

"Rob was amazing. He can change the game,"  Kanter told Forsberg."He hasn't played for like two months and he got a lob and dunked the ball on his first possession. This is special. He just needs to get into game shape."

Kanter also talked about his 1-on-1 battles in practice with Marcus Smart. 

"It's always good because now the NBA is going small, right?" the 6-10 Kanter said of matching up with the 6-3 guard.  "Marcus Smart is one of the best, if not THE best defender out there. When I go against him, I get better. To be able to go against a small guy and try to guard him, it makes him better and makes me better."

Forsberg captured a portion of their showdown on video:

I always try to get under his skin," Kanter said of Smart, "but he's tough mentally."

This trip takes Kanter and the Celtics to Utah, where his NBA career began from 2011-2015. Will he get a warm welcome from Jazz fans?

"I wonder who's going to get more booed me or [Celtics forward and ex-Jazz star] Gordon [Hayward]? Every time I touch the ball, I get booed there," Kanter said.

Because Hayward is a more recent departure, Kanter said he might be able to escape most of the fans' wrath.

"I feel good this time because I've got Gordon."

Check out the Enes Kanter Show each week on NBC Sports Boston Podcast network. 

This Friday is Jayson Tatum Day here at NBC Sports Boston. Be sure to check out our exclusive content around Tatum throughout the day, both online and on the broadcast of Celtics-Timberwolves, which begins Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 8 p.m. You can also stream it on the MyTeams App.

Robert Williams travels with Celtics, but won't play on four-game trip

Robert Williams travels with Celtics, but won't play on four-game trip

BOSTON -- There’s a good chance that at some point on Celtics Pregame Live on NBC Sports Boston before the game Friday in Minnesota, viewers will see Robert Williams III on the floor taking shots. 

Don’t get too excited, Celtics fans. 

Yes, Time Lord will be traveling with the team, and yes, that gimpy hip of his is feeling a lot better. 

But coach Brad Stevens says Williams won’t be playing at any point on the four-game trip. 

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Still, that he'll be with the team is the kind of progress that indicates his return to games is sooner rather than later. 

Stevens said Williams will another check-up in about a week to make sure that the physical activity that he’s doing between now and then, has not had an adverse effect on his hip which has kept him sidelined for the last 33 games. 

“I’m getting anxious, just knowing I’m a couple of games away,” said Williams. “My first game back, I think is a home game,  so it’s special to me.”

Boston embarks on a four-game trip beginning with Minnesota on Friday, followed by stops in Los Angeles to play the Lakers, then Portland and Utah. The Celtics' next home game is Feb. 29 against the Houston Rockets. 

With no restrictions now at practices, Williams readily admits it can be challenging to contain himself.

“They let me [be] free now, no limitations on anything I’m doing,” Williams said. “So, I want to windmill every time I dunk. But I still have to play it cautious a little bit.”

This Friday is Jayson Tatum Day here at NBC Sports Boston. Be sure to check out our exclusive content around Tatum throughout the day, both online and on the broadcast of Celtics-Timberwolves, which begins Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 8 p.m. You can also stream it on the MyTeams App.