|Marcus Smart returns to practice, Avery Bradley tries to focus on being aggressive||11.26.14 at 4:37 pm ET|
The Celtics‘ main focus during their practices on Wednesday and Thursday will be on preparing to battle a tough Bulls team when Chicago arrives in Boston for a Black Friday matinee. However, a share of the spotlight will be on Marcus Smart’s return to practice, with the hope that he can suit up after missing seven games with a sprained left ankle.
“It’s just a matter of him getting back out here, and it’s more about conditioning than it is about anything else right now,” offered Brad Stevens. “Just because he hasn’t done anything on the court physically, as far as five-on-five in the last three weeks, or whatever it’s been.”
One thing the team certainly will not do is rush Smart, especially after Avery Bradley attempted to return prematurely from an ankle injury just last season.
“I don’t know [if Bradley can offer Smart any help on returning],” Stevens said. “Again, I trust our medical team and medical staff, and I think that Marcus and Avery, I’m sure, will share that discussion and talk about that. We don’t want anybody to come back before they’re physically able, because, obviously, you don’t want to put yourself in a bad spot.”
Bradley knows he put himself in a bad spot last year, so his advice to Smart was simple.
“It’s tough. This is his first year. Obviously he wants to help our team out and he’s a little disappointed that he hasn’t been able to every single game,” Bradley said. “He’s back, but one thing everyone’s been telling him is just make sure that your body feels good, listen to your body.”
|Brad Stevens takes the fall for Rajon Rondo dribbling out the clock||11.15.14 at 9:24 am ET|
The immediate reaction by most Friday night was to blame Rajon Rondo for dribbling out the clock and not getting a shot off, the appropriate ending to a self-destruction at the hands of LeBron James and the Cavaliers in a 122-121 loss at TD Garden.
But to the cerebral Brad Stevens, there was much more to his star player not getting up a shot down a point with the game in the balance.
With seven seconds left, coming out of a timeout, Stevens watched as the Cavaliers and James took away the number one option in Jeff Green, forcing Kelly Olynyk to inbound to Jared Sullinger. The big man then dumped it to Rajon Rondo, who was fighting to get free from rookie Joe Harris. The Cavaliers switched Harris off a screen and Shawn Marion was on Rondo for the final four seconds. Then Rondo lost control before dribbling out the clock, firing up an off-balance attempt a full second after time expired.
“Well, we had a couple of different options,” Stevens said. “We had Jeff over the top, which I’d have to look at the film to see if he had LeBron sealed for a lob. Obviously, it’s a little bit riskier of a pass, but we had just thrown it to Jared and then we just had a simple swing to Rondo and our desire was to reject the screen. And he had a good match-up, but Joe Harris did a nice job on him, and we didn’t get a shot off.
“Rondo isolated on a rookie on the right wing. I felt pretty good when he got the ball reversed to him. Again, give Joe Harris a lot of credit. He did a great job on that possession. We were trying to space and rip and drive and play. I told Rondo those plays start with me. I’ll be responsible for that one.”
|Brad Stevens preaches defense at practice, Marcus Smart speaks for first time since injury||11.13.14 at 7:34 pm ET|
Following Wednesday’s home loss to the Thunder, Brad Stevens took the Celtics through a practice that lasted almost two hours on Thursday afternoon and not surprisingly, the focus was on defense after the C’s let up 109 points to a severely short-handed Oklahoma City squad.
“I think we wanted to talk about some things we were doing defensively and not doing defensively,” Stevens said. “We watched a lot of film of that. And then, you know, we’ll see what the carryover looks like. [But it clearly] was a defensive oriented film session and review session.”
Stevens added: “We did some good things. But we did not sustain them, and that was the other emphasis [Thursday].”
There was some positive news coming from the session.
Marcus Smart was up and walking around at the Celtics‘ practice facility, and also spoke to the media for the first time since spraining his left ankle during last Friday night’s game.
“I’ve sprained my ankle before, plenty of times,” said Smart. “It’s a part of the game, it’s a part of being an athlete. But I’ve never been in that type of pain with my ankle before, so it was something new to me.”
The pain was obvious since Smart was ushered off the court on a stretcher, but even though the sprain turned out to be less serious than what seemed at the time, the rookie is being cautious about how he handles the injury moving forward.
“I’m just taking it slow, taking my time, [I want to] make sure I’m 100 percent,” Smart said. “I don’t really want to rush anything right now. Even though I’m going to feel better before I really am, I’m just trying to make sure that, you know, I’m 100 percent before I step on the court again.”
Brad Stevens isn’t the kind of coach to throw chairs or even raise his voice to get his point across when he’s ticked off at his team.
But Wednesday night, after a complete and utter no-show in the second half of a 109-94 loss to the undermanned Thunder at the Garden, Stevens came as close to publicly calling them out as you’ll see from the mild-manned coach.
“Well, I think it was, first of all, their energy and their togetherness, and their energy,” Stevens said. “Their passion was obvious and evident. And I don’t know if it was the fact that we missed a couple of shots that got us out of a rhythm, but the bottom line is we didn’t guard them at all in the second half. And they had a lot to do with that. They ran good stuff, and they made shots.”
Former Boston College sharpshooter Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow (28 points each) picked up the slack for a team missing Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Thunder, who trailed 51-42 at the half, outscored the Celtics, 67-43, in the second half, as Boston allowed Oklahoma City to shoot 62 percent (26-of-42).
“Credit to them,” Stevens said. “We talked about guys like Morrow; if you ever leave Morrow, he’s going to score,” Stevens said. “If you ever get hit on a screen and you’re lost, he’s going to score. And he scored a lot. And we let the big’s run down the lane and dunk it a couple times. I mean, 67 points in a half is pretty poor.”
|Rajon Rondo didn’t want to miss last Saturday’s game vs. Bulls||11.11.14 at 3:40 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics held practice at their training facility in Waltham on Tuesday as they prepare for a three-game homestand, beginning Wednesday night against the Thunder.
The most noteworthy news from practice was the fact that Rajon Rondo practiced in full after missing last Saturday’s game in Chicago to have screws removed from his surgically repaired left hand. Although minor, this certainly was not a procedure that was planned far in advance — nor did Rondo seem happy about missing the game.
“Danny [Ainge] made a decision at halftime [of Friday’s victory over the Pacers], I had no idea,” said Rondo when asked when it was made official he wouldn’t be joining the team on its flight to Chicago Friday night.
After Friday’s game was when Rondo was notified he would be staying back in Boston to get the screws removed. Even without Rondo Saturday night, the Celtics defeated the Bulls, 106-101.
“[I] came in very pissed off, but, you know, the team got the win. … I just wanted to go travel with my team and play against Chicago,” Rondo said.
Rondo added he thought he would have had the surgery on Sunday — an off day.
“Well, I thought we would have the day off Sunday anyway, and I thought I could do it Sunday, but they [Ainge and team doctors] make the decisions,” Rondo said.
|Brad Stevens says Marcus Smart injury makes him feel ‘glad to be a part of a team that feels like that’||11.08.14 at 3:11 am ET|
When Marcus Smart landed awkwardly on Lavoy Allen‘s foot with 11:07 left in the fourth quarter and the game tied, 75-75, Celtics coach Brad Stevens learned a lot about this Celtics team. Just five games into an 82-game grind, he learned that this team will fight for each other, especially when one of their brothers goes down with injury.
Not only did medical staff hurry onto the parquet, every teammate came over to check on Smart’s condition before he was eventually lifted onto a stretcher and carted off the court and into the Celtics locker room.
“It was really scary and then obviously he was writhing in pain, so that makes it even more scary,” Stevens said. “I’m glad to be a part of it. I’m glad to be a part of a team that feels like that.”
Jeff Green, who scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the 101-98 win over the Pacers, spoke for the team when he described the tightness and togetherness of the players.
“It was very difficult,” Green said. “You hate to see a teammate go down especially when he’s playing well. Marcus is a soldier though. He’s going to get himself back together quick. I know he’s going to work hard to get back. Tough loss for us.
“I think its just a matter of focus. I think everybody on the bench no matter if they played or didn’t play they were focused, they were into the game, they were watching the game to figure out the impact of the game if they got in. You saw first-hand guys who are focusing on the game and where they can impact. Saw Gerald (Wallace) come in, the defensive intensity he came in with. The way Phil (Pressey) played on that pick and roll, breaking down their defense it was wonderful to watch.”
|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.
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