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Celtics reveal they 'begged' Blake Griffin to return this season, but veteran 'enjoying life'

Steve Hewitt, Boston Herald on

Published in Basketball

“He just said that the most important thing was his kids.”

Even though he won’t be back, Griffin was universally loved in Boston. Once a superstar in the league, Griffin became self-aware of his diminished abilities and accepted a reduced role on the Celtics, and was productive on the court whenever he was called upon over 41 regular season games, which included 16 spot starts.

But his real value came in the locker room, where the Celtics described him as their funniest teammate who kept things loose over a long, sometimes stressful season. He was also a veteran mentor for several young players, especially Pritchard who leaned on him during a difficult season. Mazzulla often praised Griffin as a cornerstone of their locker room and described him as a perfect teammate.

“Blake’s probably one of the best teammates all of us have ever had,” White said. “So any time you have him around, it’s great. But, I mean, I feel like it’s his decision (to not return) and we respect that, but we all just love having him around.”

No complacency

With 25 games remaining in the regular season, the Celtics are now eight games ahead of the Cavaliers for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Barring a very unlikely collapse, the C’s should clinch the top spot. So, it might be hard to stay motivated over this final stretch. But they still believe they have room to grow before the most important games begin.

“I don’t wanna say we’re at the highest point,” White said. “We think we can just keep getting better. We know what the end goal is but we got 25 more games to keep playing our best basketball. We just take each opportunity as a challenge and every time we go out there we’re competing and having fun doing what we do.”

 

The Celtics don’t get consistent practice time over the course of the season, so Monday’s session was important as they focused on certain details.

“It was great. We went for 90 minutes today,” Mazzulla said. “It was a balance of information, a balance of technique, and then a balance of execution. So just kind of talking to the guys and seeing where we think the team is at and what we need to work on as far as those three things, technique, execution, and the details.”

76ers next

Since Joel Embiid went out with his knee injury, the 76ers are 4-7 and falling in the Eastern Conference standings. But even though the reigning MVP won’t be on the court, the Celtics won’t be taking their rival lightly when they visit Boston on Tuesday night.

“Obviously Embiid’s out, but they’ve got so much talent and guys out there, they play hard,” White said. “So it’s going to be definitely a challenge every time we play Philly. No matter who’s in the lineup, it’s a tough game, so we’ve got to be ready to go.”


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