Tom Thibodeau on Celtics: 'They're going to be dangerous in the playoffs'

Tom Thibodeau on Celtics: 'They're going to be dangerous in the playoffs'

As a former Boston Celtics assistant coach, Tom Thibodeau was one of the chief architects behind a Celtics defense that ranked among the best in the league.

That defensive mindset remains strong in Boston, although you wouldn’t know it by the way the Celtics have been playing at that end of the floor recently.

Fired in January by the Minnesota Timberwolves as their head coach and president of basketball operations, Thibodeau has been making the rounds, visiting former colleagues and organizations that he has worked with previously.

He was in town recently to catch a Celtics shoot-around and later a game against the Miami Heat.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was asked about having the defensive-minded Thibodeau around and getting his take on the team’s defense.

“He’s probably so mad at watching it,” Stevens said.

While there’s no question Boston’s defense has undergone some slippage the past couple of months, you can count Thibodeau among those who believes they will be fine at that end of the floor come playoff time.

“They have length defensively, with multiple guys that can defend multiple positions at a high level,” Thibodeau told NBC Sports Boston. “They have great leadership at that end of the floor with Al (Horford), (Marcus) Smart and Aron Baynes. They have all the pieces that are necessary. They have great talent, great coaching, management, ownership, everything they need is here… they’re going to be a very dangerous team in the playoffs.”

That’s the goal of course, even if their regular-season play suggests otherwise.

After spending the early stages of this season ranked among the top two or three teams in the league defensively, the Celtics are now sixth in the league with a defensive rating of 105.1.

But since the All-Star break, Boston’s defense has taken a major nosedive to rank 20th overall with a 109.4 defensive rating.

Even though Boston’s defense is trending in the wrong direction, Thibodeau wasn’t in town offering up any kind of defensive elixir to what ailed the Celtics.

Quite the opposite of that, actually.

Thibodeau’s time in Boston was about him picking up tips for himself going forward, as much if not more than anything else.

“You always look to see if there’s something you like that you can add to what you’re doing,” Thibodeau said. “Is there a way to do something better? We always pick each other’s brains to see what we can add. So, this is a great place to do it. There’s a number of great coaches on this staff besides Brad, who is a great coach."

Thibodeau added, “Like I said, we’re always looking at what everybody’s doing. You’re always trying to learn and grow.”

And for Thibodeau, that growth will likely include a return at some point to coaching.

“We’ll see,” he said. “Just whatever your circumstances are you want to make the best of those. For me now it’s traveling around, relaxing, enjoying the time off, recharging and see what happens down the road.”

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Enes Kanter, Vincent Poirier join Celtics' Marcus Smart at Boston protest

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Enes Kanter, Vincent Poirier join Celtics' Marcus Smart at Boston protest

Marcus Smart made his voice heard Sunday in Boston, joining a peaceful protest through the city's streets following George Floyd's murder by a Minneapolis police officer last Monday.

But Smart wasn't alone among his Celtics teammates, as Enes Kanter and Vincent Poirier also participated in Sunday's protest.

Wearing his No. 11 Celtics jersey, Kanter made a brief speech to a crowd of protesters to thank them for their support and call for further change.

"First of all, I want to thank you all for what you're doing," Kanter said in the video, via WCVB-TV Boston. "I really, really appreciate it. The second thing I want to say, man; we need change and change cannot wait, you know? 

"I get emotional, but we are on the right side of history, man. You know what? Black lives matter, right? Let's go."

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Kanter also participated in a chant of "I Can't Breathe," words Floyd spoke Monday as a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck, ultimately killing him.

Kanter has a history of speaking out against injustices; the Turkish national has been highly critical of Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and had his passport revoked by the country in 2017.

Poirier, a native of France, also posted a pair of videos that appeared to show him walking with protesters.

The Celtics' organization appeared to support Smart, Kanter, Poirier and Jaylen Brown -- who drove to Atlanta on Saturday to participate in a protest in his home state -- via a statement Sunday night emphasizing the need to "lead through our actions."

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Celtics' Marcus Smart participates in peaceful protest in Boston

File photo

Celtics' Marcus Smart participates in peaceful protest in Boston

Just as his Boston Celtics teammate Jaylen Brown did Saturday in Atlanta, Marcus Smart participated in a peaceful protest Sunday in Boston in the wake of George Floyd's death.

The C's guard was joined by teammate Vincent Poirier and countless others to protest the racial injustices that remain prevalent in the United States of America. Smart talked to NBC Sports Boston's Celtics insider A. Sherrod Blakely and delivered a message capturing why he and so many others are letting their voices be heard.

"We wanted to come out here and let our voice be heard because we stand for the truth, and we stand for justice," Smart told Blakely. "And we won't stop until we get justice. That's really what this is about.

"I just want to say to everyone who thinks this is something more than it is, it's not. Despite color and gender, the truth is the truth, justice is justice, and justice hasn't been served. And people are pissed off about it, so we're here to keep George Floyd's name alive and keep it going and his legacy. Something has to change, and we're here to try to make a change."

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Smart also tweeted out the following message on Sunday:

Smart, Brown, Poirier, and the other high-profile individuals using their platform to peacefully send their message deserve a tremendous amount of credit for their leadership. There's no doubt they're making the Celtics, the city of Boston, and the rest of the country proud.