NBA London: Boston Celtics trio look ahead to trip
PUBLISHED: 12:30 09 December 2017
With the NBA London 2018 clash between Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers at the O2 Arena only a month away, excitement is growing on the other side of the Atlantic.
The two sides meet on January 11, with the game being shown live on BT Sport, and Boston coach Brad Stevens says his team – including rookies Abdel Nader and Guerschon Yabusele – are working hard ahead of their trip to the capital.
Q: Everyone has certain roles of what is expected, but is there anyone that has surprised you so far playing above and beyond?
A: “I don’t think I should be the one that says I’m surprised. They’re all on our roster because we believe in them and we believe they can do something really well. The key when you’re young is to figure out what you do well and doing that as much as possible and avoiding the things you don’t do so well, which we sometimes fall into. We need to just continue to get better. Everyone is here for a reason and we need to continue to soar with that.”
Q: On Daniel Theis, why is he such a good shot blocker?
A: “He plays with such a high motor. He’s always in position or he will not give up on a play until that play is over. I think that’s number one. And he’s quick and he’s long. He’s got long arms, he’s in good position and he moves his feet really well. Add all those things together and he’s a pretty good defender.”
Q: On Guerschon Yabusele and Abdel Nader?
A: “Those guys work really hard. I mean, nobody’s in the gym more than Nader. And it’s good to see them doing well. They haven’t gotten a lot of opportunities yet, but inevitably they will.”
Q: Are you surprised how quickly the team has gelled after the Hayward injury?
A: “No, it’s a great group of guys and everybody has great character and is willing to work as a team and I think we’ve done a good job of it.”
Q: A lot of people consider Brad Stevens one of the best coaches in the NBA. What has stood out for you so far being around him as a coach?
A: “He’s hands-on with everybody. He wants everybody to do as good as they possibly can. He’s very optimistic all the time, especially with resting us and keeping our bodies fresh. I think he does a great job with that, too, giving people the opportunities and I think the players respect him for that.”
Q: You were G-League rookie of the year last year. How important was your time in the G-League last year?
A: “It was important. I think I got a lot better on the court and off the court in the mental aspects of the game. I just want to continue that improvement.”
Q: What is your biggest adjustment to being an NBA player, both on and off the court?
A: “I just think the length of the season is the biggest adjustment, getting used to having games every other day instead of once or twice a week. That’s the biggest adjustment for me.”
Q: How do you think the time in the G-League helped your development?
A: “Pretty good. It was good for me to get some minutes, play a lot over there, get my confidence, just work on my game, win some games and have some team-feeling, it was great for me.”
Q: What do you feel like specifically while you were there?
A: “My shot. I shot a lot. Carried the ball a little bit, passed the ball and just scored the ball.”
Q: You faced NBA veteran Joakim Noah when you were there, did you have a chance to speak to him?
A: “Yeah, I did. I did a little bit before the game, but I did a lot after. His dad was here, too. It was definitely a good time to speak to another French player. I’m looking forward to seeing him play and playing against him in the season.”
Q: Do you think you learned anything from him? Have a chance to talk to him about the NBA?
A: “We didn’t talk a lot about basketball. He’s a great player, energy guy. Plays with a lot of energy, rebounder. That’s the way he’s been playing his whole career, so it was very interesting for me to play against a player like that.”
Q: In a month you guys will be going to London, you looking forward to seeing some friends and family.
A: “Definitely, it’s going to be an exciting game and great opportunity to show fans in Europe what we can do. My family’s going to be coming to see me, which I’m really excited about. I’m going to have some friends, too. A lot of people will be texting me that will be over there. It’s going to be a great time.”
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