Celtics

Somber Celtics reflect on a stellar season coming to a disappointing end

Somber Celtics reflect on a stellar season coming to a disappointing end

WALTHAM – No matter how good a season a player may have had, exit interviews are never fun. 

It makes the end of a player’s season official, often with the sting of their last game, a loss, fresh in their minds still. 

It’s no surprise that the mood was a somber one as a handful of Celtics players addressed the media following their exit interviews with Danny Ainge, the team’s president of basketball operations, and head coach Brad Stevens. 

Here’s what they had to say. . .

 

DANNY AINGE

GENERAL THOUGHTS ON THIS SEASON

AINGE: “I felt like the team played great this year. It was fun.  It was a really good group of guys to be around, day-in and day-out. It was a very disappointing loss yesterday. The further you go in the playoffs, the harder it is to lose. And what was interesting about yesterday’s game, was I felt like it was one of the playoff games we lost we should have won. And so that’s gonna eat at all of us for a while.”

ON CELTICS OFFSEASON SPENDING

AINGE: “We know that in Boston, our ownership group has been fantastic. They’ve been willing to pay for teams that have a chance (to win an NBA title). The way that our team played this year, the hope that there is, that will make it easier for them to step forward and realize the potential of this team and be willing to pay the money that we need to be as good as we can.”

PLAYER’S USE OF PAINFUL GAME 7 LOSS GOING FORWARD

AINGE: I’ve been meeting with the players this morning. And just … it hurts. And I feel, knowing each one of the players, I do think it will propel them. I think they’re made that way. We have a really good group of guys. 

 

JAYSON TATUM

WAKING UP KNOWING THE SEASON IS OVER

TATUM: It was tough. We had something special this year. So when it ends like it did yesterday, everybody took it pretty hard.”

ON MEETING OR EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS COMING IN

Tatum: “Individually and as a team, it exceeded all expectations. It was an incredible season, something I’ll always remember.”

EMERGING IN THE PLAYOFFS

Tatum: “Just understanding it’s the playoffs; there’s a lot on the line. And that’s when I have the most fun. When I have the most fun, that’s when I play the best.”

DUNKING ON LEBRON JAMES, EMBRACE AFTERWARDS

Tatum: “Those are some things I’ll always remember the rest of my life. Just my first year, competing against him in the playoffs, dunking on him and having that moment at the end of the game … something I’ll always take with me. Not too many people say they can do that (dunk on LeBron), but I did it.”

 

MARCUS SMART

ON THE SEASON

Smart: “I love everything we accomplished this year. This whole playoff series, we were already underdogs, people had expectations for us that were really low. We exceeded those. I’m proud of this team. I’m proud of the coaching staff to put us in winning spots. I’m proud of this city. They stuck with us until the end. My heart’s here. I love these guys.”

IMPENDING RESTRICTED FREE AGENCY

Smart: “My mindset, I want to be in Boston. I want to be here. I love the city, I love this team. I love the atmosphere it gives off. I been here for four years; my heart’s here.”

MESSAGE FROM CELTICS BRASS ON YOUR FUTURE

Smart: “I’m here. They’re already planning for me to be here.”

 

TERRY ROZIER

Thoughts on Game 7 less than 24 hours later

Rozier: I did a lot of reflecting. I barely slept last night. It’s tough; it’s just tough. We had big goals; we all had the same goals this year. It just sucks to come up short. If we would have lost Game 7 when we played Milwaukee, obviously it wouldn’t hurt as bad as this one. This was a game we felt we could have won, should have won.”

ON NEXT SEASON WHEN KYRIE RETURNS

Rozier: “Coming back next year, it’s going to be a lot of fun; a lot of fun practicing. It’s going to be a fun training camp. Obviously, Kyrie Irving is Kyrie Irving. I’ll never take nothing away from that. I won’t go out and try and step on no one’s toes. But I’m going to challenge him every day. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m going to pick his brain everyday just like I did as much as I could this year. I’m looking to make him work and I know he’s going to make me work. As far as the starting thing, I’m not worried about that. He’s a starter; he’s our starting point guard. I had a lot of fun leading these guys this year when I had to step up and start. Next year, it’ll play itself out the right way.”

ON TRAINING CAMP

“We got a lot of guys with some experience now, a guy like Jayson Tatum who was our rookie who was our leading scorer all the way to the Eastern Conference finals, one game away from the (NBA) Finals. He already has experience going into his second year. So this is my second Eastern Conference finals, Jaylen’s second Eastern Conference final back-to-back so we got some experience. That’s why I keep saying, it’s going to be one hell of a season for all of us next year. We got one goal and that’s it. We’re not looking to just come out here and just to be here, put on a jersey, play between those lines. We’re looking to win as many games as we can and putting the whole league on notice.”

 

AL HORFORD

BIGGEST TAKEAWAY FROM THIS SEASON

Horford: “Probably my biggest takeaway is, when adversity hits this group always found a way to gather themselves. It all started with coach (Brad) Stevens leading the way and always looking ahead; never making an excuse, hiding from any moments or challenges. All year we kept fighting.”

HOPE FOR YOUNG CELTICS TO TAKE AWAY FROM POSTSEASON

Horford: “This is going to help shape the rest of their careers, I truly believe that. I hope they will be able to take away the intensity and the commitment to defending and doing those little things in order for us to be successful. We did it for most of the year and in the playoffs we took it to another level. But there’s a lot more challenges for this group, that we can grow and I’m looking forward to that.”

INCREASED EXPECTATIONS WITH IRVING AND HAYWARD RETURNING NEXT SEASON

Horford: “Obviously, those expectations are there. But when you play for the Boston Celtics, I believe that you’re always thinking winning a championship. That’s the reason why I came here to be in those positions to play in those types of games like yesterday. Kyrie (Irving) and Gordon (Hayward), they know that. They know that and it’s something we’re all looking forward to.”

 

JAYLEN BROWN

FEELINGS FOLLOWING TOUGH GAME 7 LOSS

Brown: “It’s tough; definitely tough to swallow. But looking forward to offseason, getting better, coming back stronger. It’s humbling. It shows just how much room for growth there is.”

BRAD STEVENS' MESSAGE ABOUT PAIN IS PART OF THE PATH, WHAT THAT MEANS TO YOU

Brown: Exactly what it says. It’s humbling to get to a certain point and then, lose. It makes you want to get better. It makes me realize how much better I need to get. It’s encouraging, really. It’s always dual perspectives you can look at stuff. This summer, I’m looking forward to coming back twice as good.”  

HAVING A HEALTHY KYRIE IRVING NEXT SEASON

Brown: “Great player, great role model, great teacher. It’ll be a pleasure to have him back.”

 

ARON BAYNES

WHAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU REFLECT ON GAME 7

Baynes: “Drive. It’s galvanized everyone. You know, put the young guys straight into the flame, what to expect. They know what it takes. It’s gonna give them a lot of drive over the summer. It’s going to give everyone a lot of drive over the summer. I just shared with the guys, 2013 we (San Antonio Spurs) lost a Game 7. It galvanized our team before the next season. You guys know what happened the next year (the Spurs won it all). So, the way these guys are, that’s something that’s definitely attainable because they are a special group. Everyone here has shown how committed they are throughout the season.”

THE RESPONSE BY TEAMMATES AFTER SHARING SPURS STORY

Baynes: “I don’t know if anyone really thought about it, but I couldn’t not think about it last night. I haven’t slept; I’ve been thinking about it. I see a lot of similarities.”

IMPENDING FREE AGENCY

Baynes: “I really hadn’t thought about that too much until I sat in Danny’s office, but then he kind of made it clear that is coming up. Last night, all I was thinking about was what this team can attain in the future. I’d love to be a part of it; that’s for sure.”

 

MARCUS MORRIS

COMING TO BOSTON THIS YEAR

Morris: “It meant a lot. I dealt with a lot of stuff in the summer, with the court situation and then my knee being the way it was. It started off slow but gradually I found my way and became a big help for this team. Playing in Boston, it’s special man. I been around a lot of places. Boston’s definitely my favorite.”

CONNECTING WITH THE CELTICS FANBASE

Morris: “Except for Phoenix, I’ve been a fan favorite everywhere I’ve been. So, I can see that which is what the opportunity, them getting to know who I am, what I bring … it was just a matter of time.”

ON JAYSON TATUM STEPPING UP IN THE PLAYOFFS

Morris: “The kid can play. It’s not surprising. You see he doesn’t back down. He definitely showed the league who he was this year. And being such a young player, he definitely has a bright future. Definitely going to be one of the faces of the NBA pretty soon.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

Classic Celtics: Larry Bird lifts C's over Rockets in 1986 NBA Finals clincher

Classic Celtics: Larry Bird lifts C's over Rockets in 1986 NBA Finals clincher

Some consider the 1986 Boston Celtics one of the greatest NBA teams of all time.

Here's your chance to watch them finish off that historic season.

NBC Sports Boston's "Classic Celtics" series -- which brought you Kemba Walker's 32-point outburst against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday -- rolls on Friday with Game 6 of the 1986 NBA Finals between the Celtics and Houston Rockets.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis

The Rockets took Game 5 in Houston to send the series back to Boston, but they weren't prepared for Larry Bird, whose magnificent performance in Game 6 (29 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists) helped the C's earn a 114-97 win and clinch their 16th NBA championship.

Our re-broadcast of Celtics-Rockets airs Friday at 7 p.m. ET, and if watching Bird at the height of his powers wasn't entertaining enough, former Celtics center Bill Walton will join Brian Scalabrine throughout the night to provide color commentary.

Here's when and how to watch:

When: Friday, April 1, 7 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Boston
Streaming: NBCSportsBoston.com and in the MyTeams app

Click here to listen and subscribe to the Celtics Talk Podcast:

Classic Celtics: Kemba Walker helps C's mount huge comeback vs. Bucks

Classic Celtics: Kemba Walker helps C's mount huge comeback vs. Bucks

Here's how much time flies: It was only about five months ago that Boston Celtics fans were really introduced to Kemba Walker.

NBC Sports Boston's "Classic Celtics" series (which featured Boston's 1986 playoff thriller against Michael Jordan's Bulls on Sunday) rolls on Wednesday with Walker's fourth game as a Celtic -- and it was an awesome one.

That Oct. 30, 2019, contest against the Bucks saw Walker drop 32 points in his second game at TD Garden, helping the Celtics storm back from a 19-point deficit to win 116-105 and hand Milwaukee one of its 12 losses on the season.

Our re-broadcast of Celtics-Bucks begins Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET, and Walker will join Brian Scalabrine at points throughout the game to reminisce about his epic performance.

Other reasons to watch:

- Walker scoring 13 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter as Boston rallied late to stun the Bucks.

- Jayson Tatum hitting a clutch 3-pointer late in the game -- and earning a high five from C's legend Paul Pierce on the sideline.

- Giannis Antetokounmpo racking up 22 points and 14 rebounds, but Boston admirably holding the Bucks star in check during the second half.

The action all starts at 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Boston. You can also watch the game in the MyTeams app and online at NBCSportsBoston.com.

Click here to listen and subscribe to the Celtics Talk Podcast: