By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
A much-needed reinforcement could be on the way for the Celtics, as center Tristan Thompson took part in Saturday’s practice, and upped the C’s energy level, according to head coach Brad Stevens.
“[Thompson] did a lot of practice today and you could tell our energy went to a different level,” Stevens said after Saturday’s session. “In large part because he brings physicality that we really need. I thought he added to the play and the competitiveness.”
Thompson’s know-how is a welcomed sight at any point. The most accomplished Celtic, having appeared in four straight NBA Finals as a member of the Cavaliers (and winning a title in 2016), the 29-year-old Thompson is here to help Boston get over the hump.
But his presence was especially welcomed following Friday’s ugly beatdown courtesy of the new-look Brooklyn Nets.
Thompson didn’t hold back. He pointed out that nobody cares how young the Celtics are, how injured they are, and that with three Eastern Conference Finals appearances in the last four years, they’re no longer the hunters, but the hunted.
“At the end of the day we finished in the Eastern Conference Finals last year,” the 6-foot-9 Thompson acknowledged. “Whether it’s Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Indiana, those teams, the guys that are here last year finished ahead of those guys. They’re gonna want to punch us in the mouth, and we have to understand that.
“We’re gonna have to come out with a pit bull, 48-minute bloodbath mentality.”
With Thompson out of action for both of Boston’s preseason contests, the Celtics went with a heavy dose of Robert Williams in Philadelphia before Daniel Theis returned to action on Friday night. Williams totaled 16 points (8-for-10 shooting), 10 rebounds, and four blocks in 37:35 over his two-game preseason, while Theis collected a team-best nine rebounds in over 22 minutes against Brooklyn.
Thompson, meanwhile, last played on Mar. 8, and is coming off a 2019-20 season that featured a career-high 12 points per game, and the second-highest rebounds per game figure (10.1) of his nine-year NBA career.
That said, with aspirations of playing late into the summer as title contenders, Thompson isn’t going to declare himself ready for anything until he gets the OK from team doctors in regards to his recovering hamstring.
“That’s a training staff question,” Thompson offered when asked about his status. “When they say I’m ready to go, I’m ready.”
The Celtics will open the season on Dec. 23 against the Milwaukee Bucks.