Brad Stevens set the tone in the first interview of the afternoon Monday during Celtics Media Day.
“We’re just trying to put together a team that can really be, again, a team Boston will appreciate and will play the right way with great teamness and great toughness,” the Celtics president of basketball operations said.
What he meant was a rotation that excels at defense, and uses that scrappiness and unselfishness to create offense and momentum. All characteristics that Boston only showed flashes of last season as a young roster underperformed in a weird season.
Coming in to take his role at coach, Ime Udoka noted how he wants to get rid of their old tendency to play with a “your turn, my turn” offense, in reference to the team’s utter lack of identity last season — with one-to-three players really carrying the weight on any given night.
Now, Udoka looks forward to the lineup versatility he’ll have, thanks to so many slid defenders Stevens has hand picked for him. As for his stars, he’ll push them to become better facilitators to get everyone involved.
And the message across the board was clear, the players want to be coached hard.
“This is a new team, a new head coach, we’ve got new people in the weight room, we got old people back in the staff,” Jaylen Brown told reporters in his interview Monday.
“It’s just a new look in general for the whole organization. It’s more diverse, so I’m excited and optimistic that as we continue to change the culture on the court and off the court, that we continue to just get better as individuals, we continue to strive to make Boston proud, and we win some games in the meantime. I think that’s what it all comes down to. I think that we will. I’m excited. And I’m looking forward to it.”
Here are some other notes from media day:
— Ime Udoka was not physically present for Monday’s festivities.
The first-year head coach had a breakthrough COVID-19 case. He says he’s asymptomatic aside from what he called a “minor headache early on,” and is amid a 10-day quarantine.
Meanwhile, Marcus Smart offered blunt reasoning for his decision to get the shot.
“I chose to get vaccinated because, quite frankly, I didn’t feel like dealing with the BS,” Smart admitted while mentioning the strict protocols the league will “make it for people who are unvaccinated.”
Across the panel the message was clear either way: the Celtics feel this is a personal matter and it will continue to be addressed as such, with everyone standing beside each other regardless.
The Celtics missed more time due to COVID-19 than any other last season, collectively.
— Brown opened up about his health after undergoing season-ending wrist surgery towards the end of the 2020-21. Additionally, he mentioned playing on a knee ailment and not being the same explosive athlete he earned a reputation for early in his career. Now, he feels more dynamic.
“Going into this year, I feel great,” Brown said. “My body feels fantastic. I’m ready to go.”
He’s fully cleared to practice for Tuesday’s beginning of training camp.
— Returning members of the Celtics shared how they spent the offseason pertaining to basketball. For most, that meant working out, getting healthy or both.
Jayson Tatum mentioned he notices body starting to fill out more. Same for Robert Williams, who beamed a huge smile when a reporter commented on it, where as Grant Williams says he shed some weight this offseason after putting it on to prepare to play as a versatile 4 or 5 for Boston his rookie year.
“I’m excited about everyone else’s development, about the work they put in this offseason,” said the two-time All-Star, who put on some noticeable muscle over the summer. “Everybody’s been looking really good in the gym. It’s a good feeling. Everybody is just pretty upbeat and ready to get started.”
— The Celtics start practice Tuesday and will put this new roster to work. There’s a handful of players who must get acclimated, and others who will be fighting for roster spots.
Boston hosts the Orlando Magic in its first preseason game on Monday, Oct. 4.