Last season it was all about Boston being healthy.
Doc Rivers sacrificed games — Boston was 11-11 in their last 22 — to get healthy and have players rested for the playoffs. Boston fell to the four seed, but Rivers got the physically ready veteran team he wanted. They came within a quarter of getting new rings to wear.
This season, with the Celtics loss to the pesky Rockets Monday night, the Heat moved a full game ahead of Boston in the Eastern Conference. Both Orlando — winners of nine straight — and the Bulls are three games back of Boston and are closing on them.
But who cares about seeding and home court, right? Wrong. Doc Rivers cares and told ESPN this isn’t last year.
“This year’s not like last year, where you can coast,” Rivers admitted. “You don’t have home court this year, you could go home.”
Understand that part of Rivers motivation in saying what he did is to light a fire under a Celtics team that has played some pretty bad defense recently with Kevin Garnett out. It’s about motivation.
But he’s also right. Having to win two series in a row on the road in this East is going to be much harder than it was last time around. Boston — and every team in the East — needs some home court. It matters more this season. And with that, little January slumps are harder to overlook.
On Monday, Dion Waiters agreed to a one-year, $2.9 million deal with the Heat, far less than most people thought he would get as one of the few significant free agents still on the market. Tuesday afternoon, he posted an explanation on Instagram for his deal.
Here’s what he said:
I didn’t do it for the money… I did it for the opportunity to go out & ball & have fun. Everything else will take care of its self!!! I just felt like it was the best situation for me…& my family. I could have waited & got wat I wanted. But I rather be happy then miserable at the end of the day!!! Meaning Yu can have everything & still not be happy… #heatnation let’s get it!!! #provethemwrong #stamped #Philly
It seems clear, based on the market, that the kinds of offers Waiters was hoping for weren’t out there for him. In Miami, with Dwyane Wade gone, he’ll probably start at shooting guard and have plenty of opportunities to prove himself in hopes of landing a long-term deal next summer.
While we wait for the Celtics to make a bigger move to trade for another star, they’re filling out the end of their roster. Sheridan Hoops’ Michael Scotto is reporting that they’ve signed Demetrius Jackson, the No. 45 pick in last month’s draft, to a four-year deal.
Jackson declared for the draft after his junior season at Notre Dame. Talent-wise, he has the chance to be a major steal for Boston — DraftExpress has him ranked as the 17th-best overall prospect in this year’s draft class. But he might not play much his first year. The Celtics’ roster is already crowded and there’s still the chance that they’ll make another move with some of their much-vaunted assets if the right star becomes available.
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks have signed undrafted rookie free agent center Matt Costello of Michigan State.
The 6-foot-9, 245-pound Costello averaged 5.7 points and 5 rebounds on the Hawks’ summer league team in Las Vegas.
Costello averaged 10.7 points and 8.2 rebounds as a senior at Michigan State. He holds the school’s career record with 146 blocked shots.
Terms of the deal were not released.
Jamal Crawford knows how to get buckets.
He does it against NBA level defenders, so put him in a free-flowing pro-am — let’s say the Seattle pro-am in his hometown — and he barely breaks a sweat dropping 44. And nailing the game winner.
Doc Rivers hopes to see a lot of that next season.