|With Jae Crowder out, James Young might finally be ‘shooting’ his way to playing time||03.14.16 at 10:01 am ET|
WALTHAM — The time may finally be right for James Young to show what he’s got.
The second-year forward out of Kentucky, drafted in the first round of the 2014 NBA draft by the Celtics (17th overall), is one of the leading candidates to fill in while Jae Crowder heals from a high ankle sprain suffered last Friday against the Rockets.
Young is still only 20 years old but already it feels like he’s been around the block for the Celtics. In his rookie season, he was assigned to the Maine Red Claws 11 times, averaging 20.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.4 steals in 19 games. But it’s the shooting Young has been working to improve. At Kentucky, he shot 40.7 percent from the field and 34.9 percent from 3-point range. In five summer league games this past year, he averaged 9.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in five games but shot just 27.1 percent from the field and 22.7 percent from three-point range.
This year, the shuttle back and forth has continued, with nine more assignments, including six in this calendar year alone. This year in 10 games for Maine, he’s averaged 14.2 points and 5.7 rebounds. He’s only shooting 36.6 percent but it’s his 6-foot-6 athleticism that could come in handy as the Celtics look for someone to help fill the minutes of the injury Crowder.
“He shot the heck out of it,” Brad Stevens said after practice on Sunday. “One thing James has done is gotten good game reps in, because he’s also played in Maine. He had a good practice [Sunday].”
Young has averaged just 2.4 points and 9.1 minutes in 55 career games for the Celtics. Now, he may get a chance to actually add significantly to those totals.
Rated a five-star recruit by ESPN.com, Young was listed as the No. 3 small forward and the No. 8 player in the nation in 2013 at Kentucky. He was a starter on the Wildcats team that lost to UConn in the 2014 NCAA title game. He left after that season and missed Kentucky’s run at an undefeated season that ended with a national semifinal loss to Wisconsin last year.
|How will Celtics go about replacing Jae Crowder: Evan Turner and a bench that’s been ‘on ice’||03.13.16 at 7:06 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Evan Turner thought about the question for a moment and then uttered a mild expletive before laughing.
With Jae Crowder out for at least two weeks, could Turner be the man Brad Stevens turns to when looking for players to lock up the likes of Paul George, Kevin Durant and DeMar DeRozan?
“Oh, [crap]. I didn’t even think about that,” Turner said after practice Sunday. “Wow. The good thing is, and those guys are great players, but the people I tend to struggle with small forwards-wise are, like, the freaks. I’m not saying they’re not freaks, but Carmelo [Anthony], he’s tough in the paint.
“Joe Johnson is tough in the post. Things like that. Durant and Paul, they’re shotmakers and you just really have to get your work done early, and contest their shots, and try to make it difficult for them. And that’s it.”
Turner knows what the Celtics are missing in a player like Crowder, who has started all 66 games for the Celtics this season.
“That’s definitely tough. In general, Jae’s playing so great,” Turner said. “He plays the bulk of the minutes for us, and the defensively and versatility that we have with him on the floor, it’s definitely tough. So the biggest thing is just getting him healthy. We’ve got a lot of capable guys, guys that have stayed ready throughout this process. So they’ll have an opportunity to play.”
Even with Jared Sullinger battling a skin infection last week, the Celtics have maintained the same line up for the last 22 games and 27 of the last 28 games.
“We’ll figure it out as we go. It’ll be all good,” Turner said.
It won’t all be on Turner’s shoulders. Jonas Jerebko and second-year forward James Young will also likely get their chances when the Celtics stick with a traditional look on the court, that is to say two guards, two forwards and a center. Turner is confident that the bench will be ready. Turner has started four games this season but none since Jan. 7. Jerebko hasn’t started at all this season. And Kelly Olynyk, who may be ready to go Tuesday, hasn’t started since Jan. 22.
“I think they’ll probably be ready,” Turner said. “They’ve been on ice. JY has been on ice for like two years. Terry had a great game the other night. RJ’s definitely capable. So I think in the NBA at the end of the day it’s just playing basketball. And I think they’ll be fine. It looked like they had a great day of practice today and it will be great for them.”
|An improving Kelly Olynyk ‘striving for’ Tuesday return||at 3:48 pm ET|
WALTHAM — After missing the last 11 games with a partially separated right shoulder, Kelly Olynyk seemed a bit more optimistic Sunday that he could return Tuesday against Indiana.
“It’s feeling better. It’s loosening up,” said Olynyk, who suffered the injury in the first half of the Feb. 10 game against the Clippers. “The muscle is getting stronger each day from [strength and conditioning trainer Bryan Doo] and that’s really what it comes down to, if it’s strong enough to rebound and take a hit and help shoot the ball.”
Olynyk suggested that a Tuesday return, after a week of working to loosen up the shoulder in practice, is now realistic.
“That’s what we’re striving for,” he said. “It’ll still be a game-time kind of thing. That’s what we’re looking at and trying to do.”
“You have to have to confidence and you have to know your shoulder’s gonna be strong enough to do the things you need to do. That’s what it comes down to. If you’re not then you’re not helping the team. You’re hindering the team and you’re putting the team at a disadvantage, and that’s not what you want to do.”
That would be a sight for sore eyes to Brad Stevens, who will be without his best versatile defender in Jae Crowder, out at least two weeks with a high ankle sprain.
“He went through the whole practice and we did quite a bit of up and down, quite a bit of scrimmage, quite a bit of live action. So he’ll be dependent on how he feels, and I’m sure he’ll get with our trainers [Sunday night and Monday], and come up with that plan. But it’s good that there’s some optimism there. Certainly it’d be good to have him back.”
“They’re gonna need somebody,” Olynyk said. “They’re gonna need a body. Jae’s a big void to fill. He’s been playing great for us the whole year at both ends of the floor, scoring, rebounding, defending. He’s a tough person to fill by a single person so we’re gonna need a lot of guys to step up in his absence.
How did he look in practice Sunday?
“Solid. I mean, I thought he was good,” Stevens said. “One of the reasons why we played a little bit was so that he could get up and down and kind of get the rust off a little bit.”
“I went through a full practice, tried to do everything, as many reps as I could to just get back in the flow of things. I just tried to test it as much as I could,” Olynyk added. “It’s been good. There hasn’t been as much of a dip. It’s staying pretty strong. It’s staying pretty, away from the soreness. It’s been good throughout that so hopefully it can stay that way and there’s nothing that happens.”
WALTHAM — The “positive vibes” Brad Stevens had for the prognosis on Jae Crowder’s right ankle took a turn for the worse late Friday and an MRI Saturday revealed a more serious situation for the Celtics.
The most versatile player and defender on the team suffered a high ankle sprain and will be out of action for at least two weeks.
“After I talked to you guys, he went back in and saw the doctor, [he] had developed a little bit of swelling,” Stevens said after Sunday’s practice. “[Crowder] has a high ankle sprain. He’s going to be out a couple of weeks minimum.”
Crowder, who was taking treatment Sunday instead of practicing, is averaging 14.4 points this season for the Celtics while usually defending the best scorer on the opposing team.
“He’s one of our most versatile players certainly in his ability to guard. I think that a lot of perimeter players have perimeter defensive versatility, but there aren’t a ton of guys that can guard 4’s for long stretches or sometimes 5’s for long stretches, and Jae can do all that. So that’s one of the things that’s going to be quite a balancing act without him, and we’re going to have to have guys step up and play. We’ll probably end up playing a little more traditional because of that, and we’ll see.”
The timing of the injury to Crowder couldn’t be much worse. Starting on Tuesday, the Celtics have a string of three games in four days against Indiana, Oklahoma City and Toronto, with their best all-around defender unavailable against the likes of Paul George, Kevin Durant and DeMar DeRozan.
“I think it’s a heck of a challenge when you look at our week ahead, right, with George, Durant and DeRozan, bang, bang, bang. But that’s this league,” Stevens said. “That’s why long, athletic, versatile guys are in such demand in this league. Again, we may be a little bit smaller at times at the three and we may be bigger than we’ve been at times at the four. We’ll see how it all plays itself out and pans out. We’ve got a lot of good players. It’s a great opportunity for them and it’s a great opportunity for some of our younger players maybe to take a more pivotal role than they have so far.”
Crowder is the only player to have started all 66 games this season for the Celtics. That string comes to an end Tuesday. Stevens said he hasn’t made up his mind who takes his place.
“Nah, we’ll decide that on Tuesday morning after another 36 hours of thinking about it,” Stevens said.
Could Crowder be back for the playoffs?
“Hey, we’ve got to qualify for those. The same old adage still applies with us: We’re not that far from out of it. So, we have to play well. We have a heck of a stretch coming [up]. He’ll be back as soon as he can.”
WALTHAM — The James Young-Jordan Mickey shuttle continued on Sunday.
The Celtics recalled Young Sunday in time for their practice in Waltham while assigning shot-blocking specialist Jordan Mickey to the Maine Red Claws.
Mickey was in uniform for Maine’s Sunday afternoon game at home against Grand Rapids. He had six points, two rebounds and three blocks in the first quarter, including a monster rejection from behind late in the quarter. Catch the game here on YouTube.
Mickey had three blocks in one possession on Wednesday in the win over Memphis.
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) March 13, 2016
|Terry Rozier gets his chance to prove doubters wrong: ‘A lot of people doubt me since I’ve been here’||03.12.16 at 10:13 am ET|
With Jae Crowder down with an sprained ankle the and the Celtics struggling badly to handle the big men of the Rockets, Brad Stevens got creative Friday night. And rookie Terry Rozier was ready at the call.
He was inserted in the lineup late in the third quarter and provided a spark to an already small lineup that was without a key big man.
“Just stayed in the gym. A lot of people doubt me since I’ve been here. I don’t even want to get into that but just stay ready,” Rozier said. “Just stay in the gym. I’ve got a good group of guys around me that help me stay ready so with them, the coaches and me being the gym a lot, it just built my confidence up a lot.”
Rozier played just over 10 minutes, his most playing time since 12 minutes against Orlando in a 19-point loss on Nov. 29.
The Celtics lost 102-98 but the biggest bright spot that came from the defeat was how the rookie out of Louisville handled himself off the bench when the game was still up for grabs.
With 2:22 left in the third quarter and the Celtics trailing by just five, 73-68, Rozier came in for Isaiah Thomas and provided a spark, and showed no hesitation. His first shot was a made 3-pointer with 11:17 left in the fourth, cutting the Rockets’ lead to three, 79-76. Most impressively, Rozier hit the glass, grabbing seven rebounds in 10 minutes, including three off the offensive glass.
“I didn’t know my number was going to get called,” Rozier said. “When I got off the bench, I was like, ‘I’m just going to play hard, no matter what.’ Coach knows I’m a good rebounder, so that’s one of the things I wanted to do. Go help our bigs, go help our team, go rebound and just push the ball and just try to create for my teammates. I tried to do the best I could. It just kind of worked out for me.”
“I felt like when we put Terry in – the key question whenever you’re that small is ‘Can you hold your ground?’ number one; number two is, ‘Can you rebound?’ And I thought Terry rebounded as well as anybody on our team,” Stevens said. “So, that was really encouraging and that’s what he does well and so we decided to play that kind of small. And it was probably good for a little bit and probably ran its course.”
In a season that has seen not one but two teams make a legitimate run at winning every home game, the Celtics had a nice home court run of their own at 14 games coming into Friday night.
But the Rockets’ size and the Celtics’ cold shooting (8-of-31 from long distance) put an end to that Friday in a 102-98 Houston victory at TD Garden.
The last time the Celtics lost at home was Jan. 6 to Detroit. In that span, the Celtics went on the longest home winning streak since the TD Garden opening in 1995 and the longest since an 18-game run in 1991.
“We didn’t really know what that felt like,” Isaiah Thomas said of the loss. “It was tough, getting that feeling again, especially at home. I feel like we let our fans down. [The] good thing about the NBA, short memory, you got another game in a few days.”
The Celtics hit the road for a game in Indiana Tuesday before hosting the Thunder on Wednesday night. The Celtics play three of their next four on the road, also playing in Toronto next Friday before a game in Philadelphia next Sunday.
During their 14-game run, the Celtics were able to take advantage of the home crowd and feed off the energy, coming from behind at halftime in four of their previous five home games.
But on Friday against the Rockets, the Celtics were never able to find an offensive rhythm in the second half, shooting just 37.4 percent for the game.
“Man, we couldn’t hit shots, point blank, period,” Thomas said. “We came back. We were getting the shots we wanted, and they were just going in and out.”
The Golden State Warriors are 29-0 at home this season and extend their own NBA record for home wins (spanning two seasons) with each successive victory. Their streak currently stands at 46 games. The Spurs are 31-0 on their home court and have a string of 40 straight wins, tying the Orlando Magic for the third-longest in NBA history.
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