|Five things we learned on a night the Celtics won a game, but potentially lost Marcus Smart (for a while)||11.07.14 at 9:54 pm ET|
The Celts might have lost their first-round pick, Marcus Smart, for an extended period of time due to a fourth quarter, left ankle injury. (For more on Smart’s situation, click here.) But the C’s were able to avoid what would have been a demoralizing loss to a depleted Indiana team.
Down by two points heading into the final quarter, the Celtics rallied in the fourth to hang on for a 101-98 win over a Pacers club that has now lost five straight games. (For a complete box score, click here.)
It was revealed well after the game that X-rays were negative, classifying Smart’s injury as a severely sprained ankle.
THE PROMISE OF MARCUS SMART MAY HAVE TO WAIT
With the rookie being wheeled off the TD Garden floor on a stretcher, the reality of the start of Smart’s first season was severely clouded. While continuing to struggle shooting the ball — having gone 1-for-6 from the floor after coming into the game with just a 30 percent percentage — he had shown flashes both defensively and in his offensive aggressiveness.
After the game Brad Stevens said Smart had suffered either a sprained or broken left ankle, with the team still awaiting test results. A while after Stevens spoke, it was revealed the injury was a sprain.
“It’s a sprained ankle, or broken, we don’t know,” the coach said. “Obviously we’ll do the X-rays and all that stuff. We’re hoping it’s a sprain, but we don’t know that. So obviously great deal of concern for him, No. 1. And hopefully he can get back sooner rather than later, because he’s really playing great basketball and I’m sure it’s really disappointing to be out five games into your rookie year, even if just for a little bit of time. That’s what we hope it is.”
Smart came into the game averaging 21.5 minutes per game, suggesting a continued confidence from Celtics coach Stevens. A heavier reliance will most likely be put on Marcus Thornton (who played just 7 minutes Friday night) and perhaps Phil Pressey, who totaled a season-high 12 minutes.
AT LEAST THEY DIDN’T GIVE IT AWAY (THAT MUCH)
One game after allowing Toronto 36 points off of turnovers, the Celtics made it a point of hanging on to the ball. Prior to the game, C’s coach Brad Stevens suggested that the issue in the previous contest was mostly due to the efforts of the Raptors. The results Friday night supported that take.
The Celtics didn’t commit their first turnover against the Pacers until there was 7:10 left in the first half. The ball security allowed Indiana to go the entire first half without a fast break basket.
When the Celtics did start turning it over again — allowing five miscues in the third quarter — that’s when Indiana started getting back into it. After trailing by as many as 13 late in the first half, the Pacers went on a 15-0 run early in the second half to claim a brief four-point lead.
KELLY OLYNYK IS PROVING TO BE A FIND
The second-year forward has proven to be one of the most consistent performers for the Celtics, coming into the game averaging 23.9 points and 13.6 rebounds per 48 minutes, shooting 57 percent.
This time Olynyk chipped in with a solid 12 points, while grabbing five rebounds. He is now averaging 12.4 points and 26 minutes per game game.
The star big man for the Celtics would ultimately be Jared Sullinger, who exploded for 11 fourth-quarter pints to finish up with a team-high 17.
In this case Olynyk’s efforts were much-needed this time around, with Indiana making no bones about their intentions. The Pacers scored 16 of their 26 first-quarter points in the paint, with Roy Hibbert (who was coming off an 0-for=7 showing), Luis Scola, and Chris Copeland owning the inside.
Thanks to Tyler Zeller, there were moments where Celtics big men not named “Olynyk” or “Sullinger” made their presence felt …
RAJON RONDO STILL IS LOOKING FOR MAX-CONTRACT VALUE
Although he has shown flashes of dominance this season, Rondo proved good, but certainly not great, this time around.
The point guard totaled eight points on 4-of-10 shooting (8 points), staying on the floor for 28 minutes. Rondo had averaged 34 minutes and 9.3 points per game prior to Friday night.
BRAD STEVENS DIDN’T DESIGN THE NEW UNIFORMS
Before the game, when asked about the new Celtics uniforms (which they will be wearing six times this season), the Celtics coach had this to say:
‘I think the biggest thing is, if our guys like them, I like them. The last thing I can do, and all of you who know me know this, is analyze fashion. Ask [Rajon] Rondo, a couple of our other guys, what they think because they have a much better eye then I do.’
For what it’s worth, another Boston head coach, Claude Julien, was also in attendance, watching the game courtside Friday night.
|Marcus Smart carted off on stretcher after hurting ankle||11.07.14 at 9:20 pm ET|
Celtics rookie guard Marcus Smart was taken off the court on a stretcher with 11:07 left in the game at TD Garden against the Pacers after injuring his left ankle while going in for a lay-up against Indiana’s AJ Price.
A while after Stevens’ spoke, it was revealed that Smart’s injury was just a severe sprain and not a break.
“Oviously great deal of concern for him, No. 1. And hopefully he can get back sooner rather than later, because he’s really playing great basketball and I’m sure it’s really disappointing to be out five games into your rookie year, even if just for a little bit of time,” the coach said. “That’s what we hope it is.”
Smart had played 16 minutes, going 1-for-6 with two rebounds before the injury.
The entire Celtics team ultimately came out and gathered around Smart while he was being put on the stretcher, with the TD Garden crowd chanting the rookie’s name.
“Your team is clearly affected by it, because they care about him, which is a good sign,” Stevens said after his team’s 101-98 win over Indiana. “And then you have to go play, and that’s hard. But I thought that if anything, the player wants your team to play with that kind of enthusiasm and that kind of passion that those guys played with int eh last eight minutes and 37 seconds or whatever it was. So again, you feel, you hope for the best. I’ve seen some injuries that have been pretty nasty over my time and hopefully this isn’t one of them. It doesn’t sound like it from the early indications.”
Smart came into Friday night’s game averaging 7.8 points and 21.5 minutes per game.
|Brad Stevens isn’t confident in his fashion sense||11.07.14 at 6:59 pm ET|
Brad Stevens is young for an NBA coach — having just turned 38 years old just more than two weeks ago. But that doesn’t mean he’s ready to declare himself fashion guru for the league’s next generation.
The latest example of Stevens’ lack of attention to detail when it comes to deciding what to wear? His response regarding the Celtics‘ new uniforms.
“I have seen them now,” said the coach when asked if he saw the team’s new alternative uniforms, which will be broken out on six occasions this season.
“I think the biggest thing is, if our guys like them, I like them. The last thing I can do, and all of you who know me know this, is analyze fashion. Ask Rondo, a couple of our other guys, what they think because they have a much better eye then I do.”
The dates the Celtics will be donning the predominately gray uniforms will be: Nov. 28, Dec. 7, Jan. 2, Feb. 6, March 4, April 12.
|Celtics going young in front court, Tyler Zeller still fighting for minutes||11.06.14 at 4:14 pm ET|
Veteran Brandon Bass‘ minutes have essentially been cut in half, as he averaged 27.6 per game last season to just 14.5 so far this year. Some of the drop off can be attributed to the three-guard lineup that Stevens has been rolling out, but the big reason is simply younger players earning themselves more minutes.
Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk are both coming off season-highs in minutes played against the Raptors on Wednesday, with 38 and 34 respectively, and the rotation is beginning to feel as if both will be playing right around 30 minutes a game.
In a game where Toronto was without both of its starting bigmen, Sullinger (19 points and 16 rebounds) and Olynyk (18 points and 13 assists) were able to feast, each finishing with a double-double.
But, another young big man has become lost in the mix — Tyler Zeller. Zeller has appeared in all four games, but is averaging just 6.7 minutes during three of those contests.
What about the fourth game?
An eight point, four rebound, two block performance against the Rockets — a game in which Zeller played 19 minutes.
The minutes likely were a product of Zeller being the best matchup against a force like Dwight Howard. Centers Brook Lopez and Jonas Valanciunas have missed games against the Celtics this season in contests against the Nets and Raptors, giving Stevens less incentive to get Zeller more time on the floor.
So will the coach simply use Zeller based on matchups this season?
|Raptors view Celtics as threat in Atlantic Division||11.06.14 at 9:40 am ET|
The Raptors flipped a 34-48 record and a last-place finish in the Atlantic Division in 2012-13 to a 48-34 ledger and a division crown in the third year of the Dwane Casey coaching era last year. With headstrong 28-year-old point guard Kyle Lowry and burgeoning young shooting guard DeMar DeRozan in the fold, they cemented themselves as the Atlantic favorites for years to come.
The Celtics are hoping to replicate Toronto’s turnaround behind their own headstrong 28-year-old point guard Rajon Rondo and burgeoning young shooting guard Avery Bradley in the second year of coach Brad Stevens‘ tenure.
The Raptors are recognizing their effort.
“They’re definitely very talented,” DeRozan said after scoring 23 points on 25 shots in a 110-107 win in Boston. “They’ve got a great coach. They’ve got a hell of a point guard in Rondo. They’re still learning and still growing. You’ve got a talented kid in [Marcus] Smart, so they definitely have a chance and we definitely have to look for them, especially in our division.”
Including the preseason, the Celtics and Raptors have faced each other three times, twice battling to the final possession. The C’s outplayed Toronto in almost every facet of Wednesday’s game — shooting 51.3 percent from the field, grabbing 31 more rebounds and leading by as many as 16 points — but committed 28 turnovers, most of which were unforced.
When asked if he viewed the Celtics as a threat in the Atlantic Division, Lowry didn’t hesitate.
“Yeah,” he said, even after dropping 35 points on 17 shots on their backcourt. “The way they play, they play so hard, man. You just have to tip your hat to how they play. They’re well coached, and they have some talented young pieces. They’ve got an NBA champion over there, so they’ve got some pieces and players who know how to get the job done.”
|5 things we learned in Celtics’ loss to Raptors||11.05.14 at 10:07 pm ET|
After an unsuccessful two-game trip to Texas, the Celtics returned home to the TD Garden on Wednesday to face off against the Raptors. Toronto came into Boston as the Atlantic Division favorite, sporting a record of 3-1 with its only loss coming on the road in Miami.
The Celtics somehow out-rebounded the Raptors, 55-24, yet still managed to come up short. Contributing the most to the Celtics‘ third loss was 28 turnovers for Brad Stevens‘ team. (For the box score, click here.)
“Well you know we were doing really well as far as that category goes, coming into this game,” Stevens said about the turnover issues. “But I thought most of our turnovers were in the half-court and late in the [shot] clock. I’d have to go back and watch to say that for sure, but they’ve got active hands in the half-court and we didn’t respond as well as we needed to to that. We knew that going in; we talked about it this morning, we talked about it this afternoon, and talked about the need for really precise execution and I thought we did that at times and we didn’t at times. But again, I think the overarching theme was their physicality and their athleticism was a major factor.”
Here is what we learned in the C’s loss:
The C’s came out blistering hot at home once again, connecting on their first seven field goal attempts and finishing the first quarter shooting 15-for-19 from the floor – good for 78.9 percent.
The Celtics also held a rebounding edge of 14-2 over the Raptors at the end of the first frame, which translated to a 35-23 lead. The only thing seemingly keeping the Raptors in the game was their 12 points off of six Celtics turnovers.
|Video: Jeff Green chases down, blocks Lou Williams||11.05.14 at 8:08 pm ET|
The Celtics got out to an early double-digit lead against the visiting Raptors where an engaged Jeff Green was a big factor. This remarkable chase-down block of Lou Williams highlighted was one of three blocks for Green to go along with seven points and two assists in the opening frame. The Celtics led 35-23 after one.
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