Celtics Notes: Rivers, Tatum, Brown, Irving

The Celtics are off to the best start in the East, and even Clippers coach Doc Rivers has noticed how much better the atmosphere surrounding the team has been, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Rivers, whose team hosts the Celtics tonight, attributes the difference to personnel changes.

“Last year you had Gordon (Hayward) and Kyrie (Irving) both coming back from being out,” Rivers said. “Gordon hadn’t played the whole year before, and Kyrie hadn’t played in a while either, so they hadn’t really played together. And they just never could get their traction. The rest of it, I stay out of. I’ll let y’all deal with that.”

Rivers was referring to locker room differences that sabotaged a team that entered the season as a favorite to reach the NBA Finals. He noted that coach Brad Stevens seems much happier on the sidelines this year.

“It’s a great lesson for all of us. Chemistry is so important,” Rivers said. “Chemistry and youth, you know, they had both going at them. They were expecting guys in their second year to just take over, and sometimes that takes a little while. It’s just good to see them playing well now.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • The Celtics have been enjoying success with smaller lineups, but that might not work in the playoffs against Joel Embiid and the Sixers or other tall teams like the Bucks and Raptors, states Brian Windhorst of ESPN. A source tells Windhorst that Boston won’t offer its core players in any deal, including Marcus Smart and Hayward, who have been mentioned as trade possibilities before. Outside of their top five, the only players making more than $4MM are centers Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter, which becomes challenging for matching salaries.
  • President of basketball operations Danny Ainge addressed the possibility of adding another big man in an interview with Bulpett. “It’s always about who,” Ainge said. “It’s not, like, how tall they are. It’s not like you can just go find any seven-foot guy and put him out there and all of a sudden you’re going to be better. It depends on who that is and whether they’re better than Marcus Smart guarding the center. So I don’t worry so much about that. I mean, obviously we have stars at every other position and we really don’t have stars at our big positions. So everybody thinks that that’s what we need to do, but it all depends on who that is.”
  • Roster changes have allowed Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to expand their roles, giving the Celtics two big wings that most teams can’t match up with, observes Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer.
  • Celtics fans may not get a chance to welcome Irving back in his first scheduled game in Boston since leaving in free agency, tweets Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Irving missed his third straight game tonight with a shoulder impingement, and Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson refused to speculate if he will be healthy enough for next Wednesday.
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17 thoughts on “Celtics Notes: Rivers, Tatum, Brown, Irving

  1. jr.white

    Even if healthy, I’d expect Kyrie to sit out his first game back at the garden. Guy is ten ply

  2. Jeff Zanghi

    I think the Celtics are really going to surprise a lot of people by continuing to play as well as they have thus far this season. Heading into the season they weren’t really expected to be one of the top teams in the NBA but that was because no one was expecting Brown and Tatum to take the leaps they seem to have taken to become “star” (or close to it) players. If they keep up the pace they’ve played at thus far and Gordon Heyward comes back as hot as he was prior to getting injured – the Celtics could basically have 4 All-star caliber players (Brown, Tatum, Hayward and Walker) which is a pretty good core to give them a chance to compete for the Eastern Conference Championship! Sure as mentioned in the article above — they are definitely lacking a consistent/dominant low post presence but Theis, Kanter and Williams have all played decently well and they could always acquire someone between now and the trade deadline to bolster their PF/C spot. Regardless I think that they’re going to surprise a lot of people by really outperforming pre-season expectations and continuing to improve as their young core continue to take steps forward! No matter what they’re already a really exciting team to watch!

    • downeysoft420

      Yeah honestly, they went after kanter for a reason and Williams is improving, and given he hasn’t played much he could be a lot better by the time playoffs roll around. I honestly think their good and can’t really
      Improve a lot on paper. They sure have the picks to make that move for an elite 5 but salary cap and lack of talented big men that would be an upgrade not in contending teams are not really there besides MAYBE Ayton crosses my mind first, either way yeah lol their as good as their going to get this year.

  3. x%sure

    No mention of the best 4 together on the world cup team before the season started?

  4. ray win

    I am still amazed that people don’t seem to get the step back for Tatum and Brown last year. They both played really well in the playoffs 2 years ago without Irving. They were lost last year with Irving dominating the ball and criticizing his teammates all of the tine. Now they are playing very well, and Irving us gone. Does anyone see a pattern here. Now they also gave a great teammate and leader in Kemba.

  5. Boston has had a pretty soft schedule so far. I imagine they’ll be the 3 seed at best.

    • IslandFlava

      So Boston can have a slim shot at winning a ball game, right? Can’t do it with Kyrie on the court!

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