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Atlantic Notes: Early, Thomas, Jones

Cleanthony Early, who struggled as a rookie last year with the Knicks, seems to be more comfortable offensively and is playing tougher defense, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Berman adds that Carmelo Anthony has helped groom the small forward into becoming a two-way force.

“[Early] looks more confident this year,’’ Anthony said, per Berman. “I think it was good for him to go through the season last year, this offseason and even right now he looks a lot more confident.’’

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • As the 16th player with a guaranteed contract added to the maximum 15-contract mix, Perry Jones has roughly a week to win a roster spot with the Celtics, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald writes. Jones did not play Friday against the Knicks, as Murphy points out. “Always keep the faith. That’s part of basketball,” Jones said. “I can’t tell you why I didn’t see the floor, that’s a question for Brad, but I just have to stay ready for the next game.”
  • Isaiah Thomas is adding some creativity to his offensive repertoire and Celtics coach Brad Stevens believes that is one reason why the team acquired the point guard last year, Chris Forsberg of relays. “First of all, I thought he’d really impact our team,” Stevens said. “I thought his ability to get into the paint would be like a shot in the arm for our team. From an efficiency standpoint, on the offensive end of the floor, both at the end of last year and through the first four preseason games, he’s just playing at such a high level; he’s such a good fit. I think that I thought he’d have a huge impact, but I think he’s probably — and my expectations were high — but I think he’s probably been at the top of those at least.”

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