Monroe, Larkin are thrust into big spots with Celtics

Monroe, Larkin are thrust into big spots with Celtics

BOSTON – When the Celtics signed Greg Monroe, they were adding a guy who was joining his third team...this season!

And in the offseason, they added Shane Larkin to a roster that already had four guards (Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier) ahead of him.

And yet as the Celtics’ postseason journey begins Sunday against Milwaukee, Monroe and Larkin will play prominent roles in Boston’s quest to advance past seventh-seed Milwaukee.

Monroe and Larkin arriving in Boston under less-than-ideal circumstances only to thrive once in town is not unusual since Brad Stevens took over as Celtics coach in 2013.

Evan Turner parlayed a strong two-year run in Boston into a four-year, $70 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Kris Humphries, a throw-in to the Celtics blockbuster trade with Brooklyn in 2013, would wind up with the Washington Wizards on a three-year, $13.32 million deal.

And more recently, Gerald Green waited for his chance to be a significant contributor last season in his second stint with Boston and made the most of it in the playoffs as an unexpected starter. His play helped lift Boston to a 4-2 first-round series win over Chicago after falling into a 0-2 series hole. He parlayed that into a deal with the Houston Rockets this season. 

Monroe's role has increased significantly since Daniel Theis’ season-ending torn meniscus injury to his left knee.

With Theis in the lineup, Monroe appeared in 11 games while averaging 7.8 points and five rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game.

In the 15 games since Theis’ season-ending injury, Monroe has increased his scoring average to 11.9 points per game to go with 7.3 rebounds while playing 21.9 minutes per game.

And Monroe’s usage rate has also increased from 21.5 prior to Theis’ injury, to 25.9.

While increased opportunity has certainly weighed into Monroe’s improved productivity.

But he acknowledges that the culture that exists here in Boston has also helped foster an environment that he says has made for a very comfortable situation now that he’s acclimated to the franchise and his teammates.

“The thing that’s most important here that people learn, are habits,” Monroe told NBC Sports Boston. “They’ve done everything they could to help put me in the best position possible. I totally understand why guys come here. You learn better habits.”

Larkin echoed similar thoughts on his time in Boston, which came as a surprise to many considering the former first-round pick of the Atlanta Hawks in 2013 left millions on the table by not re-signing with a team overseas.

“I believe in myself. I always believed in myself,” Larkin said. “I knew that if I was given an opportunity whether it was 10 games, 15 games, I would be able to show that I can help a winning situation. I always believed I could be a great player in this league. And it’s been a rocky road. Injuries, broken ankles, just a bunch of ankles, knee problems...It’s been a lot of stuff. I’m going to continue to work, continue to try and get better every single game, every day of practice so when my opportunities do come, I’m going to try and make the best of it. I feel I’ve done a lot of that this season. Hopefully, I can continue to grow and continue to grow and be that player I want to be.”

Larkin credits Danny Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, and the scouting staff for recognizing the importance of finding the best players who are more than just talented but also an ideal fit.


“He [Ainge] sees maybe what other people don’t see,” Larkin said. “He sees where guys can come in and help the roster. Coming into the season, I remember the first conversation I had with him, he was like, ‘I don’t know what your role will be this season. I don’t know if you’re gonna play 15 minutes, 20 minutes, five minutes, two minutes, I don’t know. But I do know you fit on our roster. You fit in with what we do here, off the court, on the court. I think you can help us.’ So when you hear that from such a great player and great general manager, you have to take that risk and take that opportunity to come here. And once you get here, Coach Stevens is so great at putting you in position to be successful. He sees what your strengths are, your weaknesses are, he makes everybody play well. That’s a testament to him. They work together and find the right guys that fit the system. That’s why every single year it’s kind of gone in the right direction. Brad’s first year they won 20-something games and every year since they’ve taken a step up.”



Celtics Talk Podcast: Who deserves the All-Star nod, Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum?

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Celtics Talk Podcast: Who deserves the All-Star nod, Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum?

Kemba Walker and the Boston Celtics got some great news on Thursday as it was announced the star C's guard would be a starter in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game.

Now, it's just a matter of which C's -- if any -- will join him.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the two candidates for when the All-Star reserves are announced next Thursday. But which player is more deserving of the honor?

On the latest episode of the "Celtics Talk Podcast," Kyle Draper, A. Sherrod Blakely and Chris Forsberg debated who should get the All-Star nod between Brown and Tatum.

Click here to listen and subscribe to the Celtics Talk Podcast

Blakely made it clear he'd be stunned if Tatum doesn't get named to the squad.

We know Tatum is going to get in. That would be the shock of all shocks if he does not get voted in by the coaches. The thing I like about what is happening now is Tatum is making it a little bit easier because Jaylen, you know, he's had some bumps and bruises, missed some games, and Tatum has actually played really well in Brown's absence.

Forsberg agrees with Tatum getting a slight edge over Brown.

I've heard a lot of smart basketball people say that they believe Jaylen should be the All-Star for Boston and I'll admit I'm a little surprised. Because for me it's like a slam dunk for Tatum, and that's no disrespect to Jaylen Brown. I just think Tatum's been that good this season.

You can find out what Draper thinks of Blakely and Forsberg's choices in the podcast above (discussion begins at 3:00 mark).

For a 1-on-1 with Kemba Walker, more on the upcoming All-Star Game, and the Celtics' matchup against rookie phenom Zion Williamson on Sunday, check out the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast, which drops weekly as part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.

Stevens joins elite company with 300th win

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.

Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson presents big test for undersized Celtics

Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson presents big test for undersized Celtics

The Boston Celtics are in the midst of a three-game win streak, but their lack of size could land them in some big trouble Sunday vs. the New Orleans Pelicans.

That's because they'll be up against the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Zion Williamson.

After missing most of the season with a knee injury, Williamson has made his presence felt in the first two games of his NBA career. In his debut against the Spurs on Wednesday night, the 19-year-old tallied 22 points and seven rebounds while drilling four 3-pointers.

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.

In his second game Friday night vs. the Denver Nuggets, Williamson dropped 15 points in 21 minutes (7-for-9 shooting) while bringing down six boards and blocking a shot into another stratosphere.

Watch below:

After the Celtics' win over the Magic on Friday, Kemba Walker said he ran home to watch highlights of Williamson vs. Denver.

The 6-foot-10, 285-pounder presents an obvious challenge for the undersized Celtics, who likely will be without big men Enes Kanter and Robert Williams in New Orleans.

That means it'll probably mostly be up to Daniel Theis and Marcus Smart to keep Williamson in check. Who knows, maybe even Tacko Fall will get some minutes. The 7-foot-5 UCF product does have some experience playing against the former Duke star, as the two met up in last year's NCAA Tournament.

The Pelicans are a lowly 17-29 on the season and 0-2 since Williamson entered the lineup. The C's are on the other end of the spectrum at 30-14

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.