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Brad Stevens preaches defense at practice, Marcus Smart speaks for first time since injury 11.13.14 at 7:34 pm ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

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.”

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Read More: Brad Stevens, Marcus Smart, Marcus Thornton,
Brad Stevens wasn’t too pleased with his defense: ‘We were a sieve’ at 10:02 am ET
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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.”

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Read More: Anthony Morrow, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Oklahoma City Thunder
Rajon Rondo didn’t want to miss last Saturday’s game vs. Bulls 11.11.14 at 3:40 pm ET
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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.

“€œ[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.

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Read More: Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge, Marcus Smart, Rajon Rondo
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
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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.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Indiana Pacers, Marcus Smart
Marcus Smart carted off on stretcher after hurting ankle 11.07.14 at 9:20 pm ET
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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.

After the game Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Smart experienced either a sprained or broken left ankle, with the team awaiting test results.

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.

Read More: Brad Stevens, Celtics, Marcus Smart,
Brad Stevens isn’t confident in his fashion sense at 6:59 pm ET
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Celticsuniforms2Brad 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.

@EmilyAusten photo

@EmilyAusten photo

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Celtics going young in front court, Tyler Zeller still fighting for minutes 11.06.14 at 4:14 pm ET
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Tyler Zeller

Tyler Zeller

Through four games this season it has been pretty clear how Celtics coach Brad Stevens intends to use his big men — he’€™s going with the young guys up front.

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?

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Read More: Brad Stevens, Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller,
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