Celtics

Celtics

BOSTON – The eighth annual ABCD Hoop Dreams fundraiser was held at the TD Garden Tuesday afternoon. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens along with former Celtics head coach and current Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and award-winning journalist Bob Ryan served as co-hosts of the event.

Between talking with participants as well as some fans, Stevens spoke with the media about ABCD, this upcoming season and the health of some of the team’s key players coming back who he believes have “earned” the lofty praise and heightened expectations many have placed on this team heading into this season. . .

Q: ON ABCD …

BS: “I just think you want to support; you want to support everything. Certainly appreciate everything in supporting the youth of our community, the different programs ABCD puts on, to help them and to give them chances to experience new things and really try to achieve their dreams. Anytime you can be part of that, it’s special. There’s only so many nights you can do things through the course of the year. I haven’t been back here since we lost (in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals to Cleveland). So, again it’s a good thing to be a part of.”

Q: EAGER TO START THE SEASON

BS: “We’re all eager to get started. It’s a long year. But it happens quick from the standpoint, First practice is Tuesday, the 25th and we’re playing an exhibition game three days later which is a little bit insane. But we open our regular season three weeks later. It’ll be a great opportunity to start fresh with a new team although we have a lot of guys back and see if we can be the best version of ourselves.”

 

Q: THE BENEFIT TO HAVING LOTS OF RETURNERS …

“There’s a benefit from the standpoint of that continuity, you can’t replace. What you’re trying to accomplish on both sides of the ball. We need to do some things a little bit differently. But in certain areas, for the most part what we do is something they are more familiar with. We also have the advantage, any time you add new guys you get a little more life in the building. To add Kyrie back in the mix, to add Gordon … they were here last year but it’s almost like adding brand new players to your team.”

Q: GETTING THE GUYS READY TO HIT THE GROUND RUNNING

BS: “We can’t expect them to be in ready to play, an April playoff game on September 25, but the reality is it starts soon and doesn’t let up if you’re not ready. We need to be as ready as we can be physically, in shape as we start camp and move on to the regular season as it hits. We’ll utilize our depth. I don’t anticipate guys playing 45 minutes. You don’t have time to ramp up your conditioning like we used to.”

Q: CONCERN ABOUT NOT GETTING THE SAME OPPORTUNITIES AS THEY DID LAST YEAR AND WHETHER GUYS CAN KEEP EGOS IN CHECK

BS: “We have a really good locker room. It’s no secret to anybody that there’s 240 minutes in a game. If we all struggle with that, human nature of being disappointed if you’re taken out that’s ok. But if we struggle with that, we won’t be pretty good. If we don’t (struggle with that), we have a chance to be pretty good.”

Q: WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FOCUS THE LAST FEW WEEKS. HAS BEEN THE DIFFERENT ROTATIONS?

BS: “I’m more focused on how we want to play and not necessarily how we’re going to rotate. Things can change, your rotation can change in a heartbeat. Bottom line is, we have an idea of who will play together and who best fits together. But we’ll see how it all shakes itself out.”

Q: EXPECTATIONS FOR ROBERT WILLIAMS

BS: The number one thing is to become as comfortable on both sides of the ball in our system and be an NBA player. He’s been really, really active in the offseason since the rookie transition program; he’s basically been in Boston. I’m really encouraged by what I’ve seen thus far.”

Q: THE LATEST ON DANIEL THEIS

 

BS: “I’ve been told that everybody is gonna be ready to go. Daniel was in the gym this morning. He looks great. He has not been cleared for 5-on-5 play yet, but the anticipation is he will by the start of training camp, September 25.”

Q: MARCUS SMART AND HIS IMPORTANCE TO YOU AND THE TEAM NOW THAT HE’S BACK LONG-TERM

BS: “Marcus knows how we all feel. Restricted free agency is restricted free agency; there’s pluses and minuses to that. Obviously, we’re thrilled to have him back for a long time. That’s something that we were able to … we went into free agency hoping that would be the case. And we all know what Marcus brings to the table. I keep going back and one of the moments where you have chills when you reflect back on a season, was when he entered the game against Milwaukee and the first thing he did was dive on the floor. Everybody says they want it and want to do that type of stuff. He’s a guy that does it every day. We appreciate the way he competes. We love having him around. I’m glad he’s here for the long term.”

Q: ON ROZIER AND HOW HE HANDLED EVERYTHING LAST YEAR

BS: “The one thing about Terry, you don’t have to worry about him competing. You don’t have to worry about him working. He’s always worked, always competed. He has a great mindset, great attitude. Every time I’ve seen him he’s been all smiles, he looked great. I think everybody everywhere knows Terry can really play. It’s not about as much, we talk about the roles, about proving ourselves. It’s about how we can all help each other win. We have a chance with a team that has a lot of good depth, and that depth has to be a positive. That’s the way we have to approach it.”

Q: LATEST ON GORDON HAYWARD

BS: “He looks good. I saw him a couple weeks ago in San Diego. I went out there and watched him work out. He looked really good. And three weeks later seen him again.  He’ll be cleared to go some 5-on-5 like very, very soon, anytime soon.”

Q: YOUR THOUGHTS ON KAWHI LEONARD IN TORONTO

BS: “He’s a great player. And DeMar is a great player. Kawhi’s ability to impact a game on offense, on defense. I think the addition of Danny Green as well. That’s a really good, versatile team. They were the best team in the East last year. At the end of the season, Cleveland did what Cleveland has done the last few years and that’s figure out a way to get to the finals. We had our moments in the playoffs, and we had some ‘ugh’ moments in the playoffs that we seem to forget. But Toronto was the best team in the East. And so, they added one of the best players in the NBA. So obviously, I’m sure they are excited about their season.”

 

Q: ON BEING SEEN AS THE FAVORITE TO COME OUT OF THE EAST BY SO MANY

BS: “One of the things about all 30 teams at the start of the season, is everybody is looking at their upside and looking at their best possible scenario. Everyone feels great where they are. Nobody’s played a game yet; nobody’s lost a game yet. So, we just need to be the best version of ourselves. We can’t skip steps. We can’t talk about being the favorite. We can’t talk about being in the mix. We can’t talk about being a playoff team. We have to go back and earn all that. One thing I will say is, you would rather be in the position where you have expectations and having everybody back because that means the guys in the locker room are the ones that earned them. Having earned expectations is a positive thing.”

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