Hollis-Jefferson, who signed a one-year deal with Toronto this past summer in free agency, had a slow start to the 2019/20 campaign. His poor play in training camp caused some within the franchise to worry, but the 24-year-old has given strong performances over the last week — including a 16-point, 11-rebound outing in a win against Portland on Wednesday.
“It was tough,” Hollis-Jefferson said of his slow start, as relayed by Lewenberg. “I’m human, I have feelings and I’m a competitor. I’m emotional, I wear my heart on my sleeve, so it was definitely tough. People will tell you that. I’m not one to shy away from it but for the most part I always thought about my (1-year-old) son (Rylen). Just what he would think and how he would feel if he were older. So that kind of helped me get over it. And then just talking to guys. There are some great guys in here who understand the grind and the situation. When you have good people around it makes life a little bit easier.”
Hollis-Jefferson, a proven physical defender at 6’6″, 217 pounds, is expected to be a key cog in the team’s rotation going forward. For his career, he averages 9.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 23.6 minutes per game.
Here are some other notes from the Atlantic Division tonight:
- Patrick Dunne of NBC Sports Boston examines the historical significance of the Celtics’ 10-game win streak, which was ended by Sacramento on Sunday night. Boston has lost just two games this season, dominating teams on both ends of the floor despite dealing with various injuries. This was the team’s 29th time achieving a win streak greater than 10 games.
- It’s time to stop acting surprised about the improved three-point shooting from Celtics guard Marcus Smart, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston opines. Smart posted a career-high in three-point percentage last season (36.4%), with his average gradually improving since his sophomore season in 2015-16. He’s connected on 31 of 76 attempts from behind-the-arc in 11 games this year (41%).
- The early struggles for the Sixers are baffling for fans and team staffers alike, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “If you’re sick and you don’t know why, then that’s a problem,” coach Brett Brown said after the team lost in Oklahoma City on Friday. “We’re in a tough spot right now. But it’s a long year. I think it doesn’t take much for me to understand where we have to get better, and it’s really that simple.” On the plus side for Philadelphia, the Sixers dominated the Cavs 114-95 on Sunday to extend their record to 8-5.