Paul Pierce thinks the Celtics need some 'special time' in training camp

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Ubuntu.

You remember Ubuntu, don’t you? The magical phrase that Doc Rivers used in 2007-2008 to bring the Celtics together under a team concept of sacrifice and unity. And though the “Ubuntu” tagline was phased out as the years went on, it’s been the formula for all the success Boston has achieved since the Big 3 were formed. Consistently in the “Mic’d Up” segments you’d see on television with Rivers, you’d hear him screaming “Play together!” It’s that chemistry and unity that they feel is the reason for their championship and postseason success. (Apparently the Lakers were a little bit closer. Which makes sense. Ron Artest does hang out with Kobe in the shower.)

Well, Paul Pierce has looked at the changes Boston has made to their roster, and thinks that for the sake of chemistry, they need some alone time.

For years, the Celtics have spent camp in Newport, Rhode Island at Salve Regina University. But Pierce told the Boston Herald he wants the team to get away for camp in order to bond, or whatever. From ye old Boston.com:

“I think it would be good for this group to get away,” said Pierce. “I’m really getting tired of Newport. Really, I want to go somewhere else.

“Newport is good, but I want to go somewhere else. It would be good to get away with this type of group, when you have Jermaine and Shaq.

“When you got new guys and these types of personalities, I think it’s good for all of us to get out, be at a dinner table — me, Shaq, Kevin [Garnett], Ray [Allen], Jermaine. I think it would be good for that relationship, building that chemistry. We get away and go somewhere, that’s something we’ll definitely do.”

That sounds downright, special, Pierce. We think it’s such a good idea, we came up with a few ideas for you.

1. Disney World: You guys can bring the kids, go to Epcot Center (Big Baby will love the world food exhibit at Epcot), and get your picture taken with Mickey Mouse! Think about how the unity you’ll gain when you all go on Space Mountain together! (Note: Shaq may not be able to go on Space Mountain. And probably not Perkins with the knee either. And Rondo’s freakish fingers might get lopped off. Okay,Space Mountain is out). And hey, all the big stars go to Florida….oh. Awkward. Maybe not.

2. Yosemite National Park: Ah, nature. What better way to bond with your fellow man than camping under the stars, enjoying s’mores (again, Davis, big fan), contemplating the beauty of nature while having to build fires and stuff. Wait, is Nate Robinson still on the team? Okay, maybe fire’s a bad plan. But you guys could go see Ol’ Faithful! Of course, Shaq might try and say it was nothing and spend the rest of the trip trying to prove he can spit water higher, but still! Think of the hiking adventures! All those long miles, cross terrain, on your… old… knees… okay, Yosemite’s out, too.

3. Las Vegas:
Oh, sorry, you probably meant somewhere you don’t spend 60% of your free time. Our bad.

4. Haiti: You want to get together and work for something greater? You want to see what hard work is really about? You want to commit to something together? Why not go to Haiti and help build houses. Or go to any third world nation and help them get themselves off the ground. You can hire security. And this will give you perspective. The best way to get closer is to do something for the greater good together. It’s not easy, it’s not convenient. But it would work.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Cavaliers on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.

Instead, look at his shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.