|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.
|Brad Stevens isn’t confident in his fashion sense||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||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.”
|Rajon Rondo gives himself 79 percent chance to play Wednesday||10.27.14 at 1:48 pm ET|
All preseason long Brad Stevens has been unwilling to place a percentage on the chances that his star point guard, Rajon Rondo, will be available on opening night. Rondo is just over four weeks into his recovery from surgery on a broken left hand, but he seems to be way ahead of schedule despite the coach’s hesitancy to announce his return.
“There’s a lot of ifs there,” Stevens said regarding Rondo’s status prior to Monday’s practice. “I’d still say he’s somewhere in the realm of questionable, but it certainly looks like all signs have been moving forward.”
If you know Rondo, then you know he is a much more of a precise type of guy.
So what percentage would Rondo place on himself to play on opening night? “Probably 79 [percent] right now,” he concluded Monday.
Obviously, Rondo was asked to expand on his answer: “I feel good, it’s just that contact is a completely different thing if I land on it.” Rondo went on to explain that he has only been through one practice with contact so far, but has not landed on or been hit on the hand. Rondo did admit that he had gotten it tangled up in a jersey, however, it caused him no pain or issues.
“He was good on Friday,” Stevens said of the lone contact practice that Rondo referred to. “He’ll go full again [on Monday], then I think he’s going to re-see the doctors [on Tuesday], maybe Wednesday morning.
“It’s going to be about how he feels,” Stevens ultimately offered. “So if he goes through the next couple of days without pain and feels really good and the doctors give him clearance, then he’ll be good to go.”
So what could Rondo’s minutes look like on Wednesday?
“If he were to play as early as this week then I would probably play him in shorter stints, but still play him quite a bit,” said Stevens. “Obviously you want him to get a flow and rhythm, but when we’re talking about five- or six-minute stints, that’s plenty of time.”
On Rondo’s overall minutes per game, Stevens said: “I think we’ll probably play it as is once he’s ready to play. Again, it has not been a conditioning issue because he’s been able to run the whole time.”
It’s still too early to jump to any conclusions and rule Rondo a go for Wednesday, but his status clearly looks much more optimistic than anticipated. The original prognosis of 6-8 weeks suggested that Rondo would miss between 4-10 regular-season games, so simply the fact that he has a chance of playing in the first game is impressive.
Seventy-nine percent is a high number, though — and it seems to be getting higher every day. Without being overly optimistic, it feels like there’s a great chance we hear Rondo’s name announced when it’s time for the starting lineups on Wednesday night.
Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Why Celtics Will Be Better Than Expected in 2014-15
- Should Celtics Fans Buy or Sell Rondo's Hot Start?
- Lessons Learned from Celtics so Far
- Why Green Will Finally Succeed in Boston
- C's Big Offense Showing a Sign of Things to Come?
- Green's Transition to PF Could Reshape NBA Career Arc
- Could Rondo's Play Increase the Chances He's Dealt?