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Gary Washburn, Boston Globe Celtics Reporter

JR Sports Brief / JR
The Truth Network Radio
May 22, 2024 8:03 pm

Gary Washburn, Boston Globe Celtics Reporter

JR Sports Brief / JR

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May 22, 2024 8:03 pm

Gary Washburn joined JR to discuss whether Game 1 should give fans more or less confidence in the Celtics and why Boston has struggled with consistency in the playoffs, especially at home. 

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Kick off your summer and shop in-store or online at Whole Foods Market today. Gary, thank you for taking the time. Hey, how's it going?

No problem. Very well. Now, you've seen these Celtics all year long, you've seen them for years. The up and down, last night's game, business as usual, right?

Nothing unusual out of them. Yeah, it was a very interesting game, obviously, as you guys saw. Up 13 in the third quarter, it was like they were going to pull away, then Indiana just keeps coming. And then it looks like they got it cinched in regulation, three-point league with the ball, 10 seconds left, and then just all hell broke loose. Indiana made a bunch of mistakes, you know, some earlier turnovers that kind of, you know, gave the Celtics a shot. And then, obviously, the last turnover, the path to Seacombe that, you know, carromed out of bounds, and then a three-point shot by Brown, and overtime was more mistakes from Indiana. So just a lot of things happened. And, you know, sometimes I think that's how playoff games are.

You got to win the ones, maybe, that you weren't supposed to win. Every great team has one of those games where, you know, you look at the, remember the Derek Fisher shot with 0.4 seconds left, and, you know, that Robert Horry three-pointer coming off the rebound. Like, there's always moments like that. And I guess this might have been the Celtics' one.

Gary Washburn is here with us from the Boston Globe. When you take a look at the Celtics, and this is something that Tatum said, I believe, as recently as last week, hey, we're always expected to win. Well, they won 64 games. Do you think at times, because of the talent and the all-stars and the contributions of the Holidays and the Whites, that sometimes they legitimately take their foot off of the gas? I think that that could happen at times. I think sometimes the game plan, you know, that second Miami, the game two against Miami, their game plan was just not equipped for what Miami brought to the table that night. The game two against Cleveland, you know, they fought and all of a sudden they just kind of, you know, all hell broke loose in the second half, and the Cavaliers pulled away.

So there's times where they're just not flawless. And I think that considering they did win 64 games, they've been knocking on the door for years, that they have, you know, an all-NBA player in Jason Tatum, an all-NBA player in Jalen Brown, an all-defensive team, Derek Wyden, Drew Holliday, Chris Datsport, things like, you've got a loaded roster that you should make things easier on yourself. But that just hasn't been a Celtics history. And that's been, that's lasted for years now. And it's something that they have to shake and they have to deal with. But maybe, I mean, if you want to look at a positive for a Celtic, on the Celtic side, last night's game was probably a game they lose last year or the year before that. They don't win that game.

You know, Gary, I'll tell you this. You talk about last year, a year before that, Jalen Brown, you mentioned him, an all-star, all-NBA, biggest contract that we've ever seen in the league. He's certainly been criticized for going left or his dribbling ability.

I mean, as of last night. And now it's more so been publicized about his free throw shooting. How have you seen him improve from the past couple of years to what he is now? Well, if you look at his numbers this year, he is, and look at him closely, and look at him closely, he has made better on-court decisions. Some of his turnovers and kind of being stripped was, you know, trying to do too much.

Being on a fast break and going one on three, you know, trying to do too much. And now I think he makes better on-court decisions to say, okay, I'm not going to like take the ball against three or four defenders. I'm going to slow it down. I'm going to hold it up and I'm going to pass to a teammate.

I'm going to look for the right play as opposed to the play that might be most exciting. I think he's learned from that. His turnovers actually are down this year. The free throw shooting is always kind of an adventure. You know, like Luca, there's just some players in the league that are good shooters that aren't great free throw shooters. And you really can't figure it out, you know, that are 37% from three and can hit the mid range and, you know, they can hit a contested shot. But once they get to the free throw line, it's a wide open shot with nobody there.

They have trouble. And so I just think that's been Jalen's issue. And, you know, it could come down to a close game and he's at the line. Now, he hit some key free throws in game one, late free throws after missing some. So you got to give him credit there. But yeah, that's something that he's been constantly trying to work on, but it's still not there. Gary, I think one name that doesn't get bandied about a lot and maybe it's due to injury from this past season is Marcus Smart. We don't hear about him as much from a national scene. How have things evolved in regards to just who's the most vocal in the locker room?

Is it evenly distributed? Is there respect for Drew Holliday? How has the dynamics of the locker room changed? Well, with Smart going to Memphis, they had to get other leaders to step up and they had to get guys like Jalen Brown, like Jason Kane, to be more vocal. And then you got guys like Drew Holliday who steps in. He comes in with instant respect, obviously.

Former's the Offensive Player of the Year, All-Star, NBA champion. So when Drew gets there, his voice is automatically respected. So I think it's become more of a group thing as opposed to one guy being the voice. And I think what Brown and Tatum have understood is when their career progresses and now Tatum's in his seventh year, Brown's in his eighth year, so they're ending the mid-career point here, that they have to be more vocal.

They have to be leaders. They're no longer young. There's Ant-Man.

There's Wimby. There's guys in the league now that are born in 2004. So if that doesn't make you feel old, you're born in the 90s, you're no longer a young guy. You might not be old head status yet, but you're definitely a vet. And I think Brown and Tatum have had to understand that they're vets now.

They're established vets. That guys look at them and say, oh, man, I used to play with you on 2K. Or, man, I admired your name.

Or, you know, I was in middle school when you were at Duke, you know, like things like that. And eventually that happens to everybody. And I think those guys have had to be more vocal. And it's been more of a group effort as opposed to one voice. Gary Washburn here with us from the Boston Globe. You talk about the youth of the team. We know what happened early last season to see the season prior with Imei Udonka.

Joe Mazzulla, I think it gets lost on people how young he is. Does he smile? Is he happy?

Is he going to crack a smile if they win a championship? He always seems everything is so close to the vest. He's a very focused guy, very intense. He takes his craft and the game very seriously. And he has some ideas that sometimes he's a little sensitive about when they're challenged.

So that's just who he is. He's a guy, his hobby when he's not playing ball, sorry, not coaching, is jiu-jitsu. There's been times this season he's had some marks on his face from either the jiu-jitsu or from playing pickup basketball because he's only 35 so he's still at that age where he's pretty active. He's not like most NBA head coaches.

He's still in his athletic, pretty much, maybe at the end of his prime, but he's still athletic enough to do a lot of things when he's not coaching. So this is a guy who has a method and a means that he feels like is the way to win and he's going to stick to that and he's going to relate to his players a little differently than most coaches. Obviously, it's not going to be father-son kind of thing when you're 35 years old. It's going to be more big brother, little brother, or just with a guy like Al Horford who's two years older than Missoula, it's kind of just peers. Growing up around the same time, liking maybe the same music, maybe the same movies from back in the day. So I think the players have learned to love Missoula because of his intensity. They understand how much it means to him and then he has become more of a, you know, he'll jump him and he'll definitely have something to say when they're messing up, but it's more of a big brother, little brother kind of situation or even a friend as opposed to like a father-son like where you look at, you know, when you look at some of these coaches in their 50s and 60s and the players are 20.

That's not the case, you know, it's about the same age. Well, Gary, anything less than a championship or game seven, a disappointing loss is going to be ridiculously disappointing for everybody in the Northeast. So if this is not a success or close to it, wouldn't he then be on the hot seat?

Wouldn't it be so hot? Is there a possibility they give him the boot? I don't think so there. I think it's like a situation, if you look a little bit more than a decade ago, when Eric Spoelstra was kind of the new young coach at the Miami Heat and LeBron and those guys came in, Ron came in at Bosch and they were not happy with the way he was running the team early and obviously went to Pat Riley and Riley insisted. He said, hey, he's staying here, he's not going anywhere, he'll be fine.

And obviously they won two championships and Spoelstra and Spoelstra is taking two other teams to the NBA finals. So I think the Celtics are going to play the long game here with their coaching situation. They're going to understand that Missoula was a second year coach, he had not played in the league, he had been kind of a lower level assistant on the back of the bench when he took over. So this is a guy who still has a lot to learn just from the natural situation of being thrown into such a high profile job, but they think he's learning on the fly, they think he's going to make tremendous progress, and they're not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater if they don't get it done this year.

Gary Washburn joining us from the Boston Globe. Hey, Gary, what's the latest on Chris Staps? He's out this game, the second game, is he coming back to the third, the fourth? Is there a need to rush him?

Probably not. What are you hearing? Well, I think he's making definite progress from his calf injury. He's not wearing a brace or he's not, you know, he's walking normally. So now it's the fact of getting the calf stronger, making sure he doesn't have any aggression, and getting back into basketball shape and doing some running and things like that. So now I think you're talking about he could probably potentially come back in this series with the Pacers depending on how long it lasts.

And I think the Celtics obviously are a better team with him, but they're, you know, this is a guy with a history of leg injuries and had a calf strain earlier this season. So they're not going to bring him back too early and throw him out there and have him get hurt again. So they're going to make sure that he's 100%.

And I think he's getting to that point. The injury he had, depending on the degree of the strain, was either two to three weeks or four to six weeks. I think he had a two to three week injury, not a four to six week injury, and now we're at the third week. So now I think the Celtics being cautious with him because of his history are going to get him a few extra days, maybe even an extra week to get himself right.

And so he can be able to play in a high level playoff game when he comes back. Gary, what do the Celtics need to do the rest of this series so you have an NBA Finals to cover live and in person? They just have to basically understand that Indiana is no joke. And I think that folks who watch the Knicks series probably got to learn about them. This is a team that had a little spotlight on them during the end season tournament. And they went to the finals, obviously lost to the Lakers. But they are a team that in the East people know about.

And so I think the country is starting to realize, wow, you know, who's Halliburton kid is obviously good, Miles Turner. They've been kind of a team that's been building toward this for a while. And now they put together a good, young, deep team that can score on anybody. And the Celtics have to understand the game won. They got one.

They got a break. Now they'll play a little bit better, be a little more focused on defense, cut down on the turnovers and be better and all facets of the game to take control of this series. I think if they do that, you know, they're 4-2 against Indiana this season. I think they'll be successful in this series, but it's got to happen now. They can't have any more slip ups.

Yeah, they sure as hell can. Hey, Gary, where can people follow you and all your great work with the Boston Globe? Well, bostonglobe.com slash sports and also G. Washburn Globe on X is where you can follow my work.

Hey, Gary, thank you so much. We'll catch you on down the line, maybe in the finals. We'll see. Oh, we'll see for sure.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-22 21:23:43 / 2024-05-22 21:31:08 / 7

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