|Brad Stevens on Game 4 lineup: ‘Would be hard not to start’ same group, Kelly Olynyk still ‘questionable-at-best’||04.23.16 at 11:29 pm ET|
WALTHAM – What makes Brad Stevens a good head coach is that he knows a good thing when he sees it and he doesn’t try to outsmart himself.
So when the group of Isaiah Thomas, Evan Turner Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko and Amir Johnson helped the Celtics race out to a 37-20 lead after one quarter, Stevens indicated Saturday after practice that he’s likely to start that group again on Sunday in Game 4.
“I think the one thing you don’t want to do is outthink yourself,” Stevens said. “I thought we played well with that group and we’ll see ultimately what tomorrow brings, but it would be hard not to start that group tomorrow.”
Before Friday’s game, Stevens joked that the group had played just 33 possessions together the whole season but was a plus-20.
The other big change Friday was moving Thomas to the shooting guard from his point guard position, allowing him to fly around off screens and drive the lane more and kick the ball to open shooters.
“We’ll talk about it. But our focus needs to be on what we need to do better because again I think you can overanalyze what somebody else might do without really knowing,” Stevens said. “I think you have to read and adjust on the fly, and you have to have counters to each of your actions and those type of things. But hey they’re a really good defensive team. They’re a really good team overall, offensive team. That run in the fourth quarter by both teams where we were just making shots, I mean, that was high-level basketball. So we’re going to have to play really well to have a chance to win.
“There’s all kinds of things we need to do better on both ends of the ball. Defensively we made some errors that we need to correct. They did some actions that were really good. We need to do a better job on Korver obviously not letting him get going. And then those guards put so much pressure on you with their ability to drive downhill. Teague and Schroder are just, they’re as fast as any guard in the league.
|Kelly Olynyk ‘in a good amount of pain,’ will miss Game 3, Brad Stevens details adjustments without him||04.22.16 at 7:22 pm ET|
The word on Kelly Olynyk does not sound promising for a return anytime soon, at least in this series.
The forward missed his second straight game Friday after re-aggravating his separated right shoulder in Game 1 last Saturday night.
“Feeling a little bit better,” Brad Stevens said before Friday’s Game 3. “From what I’ve been told, went through some shooting this morning. Didn’t feel great this afternoon when he got here. Did not go through our shootaround, walkthrough. I have not talked to Eddie since that. But because he didn’t go through and because he told me what he told me before, I just assumed, no. And that’s what I was told before.”
Olynyk initially injured the shoulder on Feb. 10 against the Clippers and missed 12 games before returning in March. But he’s been less than 100 percent in his return.
Stevens said Friday it’s not about Olynyk talking his way back into the lineup. It’s about giving the shoulder time to heal and Olynyk being comfortable playing with it.
“They’ve been working around the clock with regard to extra [physical therapy], extra [stimulation], etcetera, etcetera for Kelly to get back. It’s ultimately Kelly’s call on that, based on how he feels,” Stevens said. “He’s been playing through a lot of pain. He got popped pretty good in the first and aggravated it in the first game. The one thing that I know based on how he’s been playing the last month, he would play if he could. I feel very strongly about that.
“I think any time you have an injury, you can make it worse. There’s no doubt about that. From what I’ve been told, from what I understand, he’s got some issues with it shifting and he’s in a pretty good amount of pain.”
Olynyk’s ability to stretch the floor, play transition defense and space the Celtics offense in half-court has been sorely missed in the first two games. Stevens gave some interesting insight Friday as to how the Celtics and Isaiah Thomas might have to adjust.
“With regard to Kelly’s shooting, we’re going to have to do some things that may be a little bit unique to generate the best looks, and the best looks may not be the traditional best looks,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have to put Isaiah off the ball some. We’re going to have to drive, kick, drive, kick, drive, kick. We’re going to have to multiple attacks to paint instead of just one attack, especially because of all the attention they’re giving Isaiah at the rim. Isaiah is doing exactly what he did all during the regular season. He gets to the rim. He’s able to come off the pick-and-roll. He’s able to come off screens. He’s getting there. There’s just three or four guys there [waiting]. So, we’ve got to do a great job of staying spaced. Jonas will help that. Hopefully, we’re going to have to knock down some shots, and I believe that we will.”
|Brad Stevens says Kelly Olynyk ‘questionable’ for Game 3, Avery Bradley hints at return||04.20.16 at 3:55 pm ET|
Kelly Olynyk and his right shoulder remain a big question mark heading into Game 3 Friday night against Atlanta.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said during a conference call Wednesday that after meeting with head trainer Ed Lacerte, it’s questionable at this point whether the 7-footer would be able to dress up and play Friday.
“I’d say it’d be questionable based on my conversations with Ed Lacerte today,” Stevens said.
Olynyk re-injured the shoulder in Game 1 last Saturday and didn’t dress for Game 2 Tuesday night. Olynyk missed 12 games when he initially injured the shoulder on Feb. 10 against the Clippers at TD Garden.
As for the injured backcourt duo of Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart, Stevens said Bradley had an MRI on Wednesday but hadn’t heard the results yet. Stevens repeated in his Wednesday conference call that Bradley would be out of games “this weekend” and “very likely” for the rest of the series.
Bradley did tell Celtics TV broadcaster Mike Gorman that there’s a chance he could return by the end of the series. Gorman, appearing on the Celtics radio flagship station, repeated a conversation he had with Bradley on Tuesday.
“I asked if he would play again,” Gorman said, “and he said he was hoping he could play next week. He said, ‘If we can extend this series, I’m hoping I can play again.'”
“He underwent his MRI. I have not gotten the answer about how that went,” Stevens said during the conference call. “I don’t know if they’ve looked at it yet, or not. Obviously, with Kelly kind of being questionable for Game 3 and Marcus [having] bruised ribs, as far as getting immediate results, that’s who I’ve talked to Eddie about. Avery is going to be out this weekend, and like I said, is very unlikely for the rest of the series.”
As for Marcus Smart, he took a knee from Kent Bazemore above the right hip and at the bottom of his rib cage in the first 30 seconds of Tuesday night’s game when Bazemore drove baseline.
The prognosis is good for Smart, so good that Stevens expects Smart to be able to participate in practice on Thursday in Waltham. Stevens didn’t even mention Jae Crowder, who is still battling a sore right ankle from his high ankle sprain in March, or Isaiah Thomas and his dinged left wrist.
“I feel bad for those guys because this is the time of the year where everybody wants to be healthy, everybody wants to play, everybody wants to get their crack at it,” Stevens added. “So, I feel bad for those guys. As far as for me, we’re going to do the very best with the guys that are available. We have a lot of good players in this room that have a done a lot of good things throughout the year. We’re going to need to play everybody that’s available to be playing at their best this weekend to give ourselves a chance in this.”
The Hawks didn’t escape the injury bug Tuesday as Dennis Schroder badly twisted his left ankle on a drive to the basket late in the fourth quarter. He had to be helped to the Hawks locker room. He was replaced by Kirk Hinrich, who would likely take his place on the Hawks bench if Schroder is severely limited or can’t go in Game 3.
|Marcus Smart starts, Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) sits out Game 2||04.19.16 at 6:41 pm ET|
Brad Stevens will have limited options as he approaches Game 2.
Kelly Olynyk will sit out to rest his right shoulder, after re-aggravating the injury from February while Marcus Smart will start tonight in place of the injured Avery Bradley.
Stevens told reporters in his pregame press conference that his decision to start Smart over Evan Turner in place of Bradley was aimed at achieving balance. It should be noted that Turner has been one of the best bench players in the NBA this season, finishing fifth in “Sixth Man” voting in results made public by the league on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s starting lineup of Smart, Isaiah Thomas, Jared Sullinger, Amir Johnson and Jae Crowder spent just over 78 minutes on the court together this season at some point. This is the sixth time the quintet has started a game, but the first time since Nov. 20. In the stretch from Nov. 13-20, they posted a 4-1 record. Ironically, the first time this group started a game together, it was against Atlanta, in a 106-93 win at TD Garden on Nov. 13.
Keeping Turner on that unit clearly played into Stevens’ decision.
“The way that Evan plays with some of the guys that are going to be off of the bench is important,” Stevens said.
In the first two of eight games Jae Crowder missed with a sprained right ankle, Stevens went with Smart in the starting lineup before turning to the bigger Turner for his scoring to replace Crowder. Losing Bradley, it’s apparent that Stevens is going with Smart’s defense.
“The bottom line is all four of those guards – and when I talk ‘all four of those guards, Isaiah (Thomas), Marcus, Jae and Evan – will all play 30-plus minutes,” Stevens said. “So we can start any three of them but they’re all going to play a lot.”
Look for Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter to see increased playing time Tuesday if foul trouble arises.
As for who will replace Olynyk’s minutes off the bench, Jonas Jerebko is one option but Stevens suggested Tyler Zeller could see a bigger role.
“Tyler’s ability to bring an obvious energy with his rim-runs with his speed, and his ability to roll off of pick-and-rolls and create a paint threat are really important,” said Stevens. “Whether or not he touches the ball or not, just having that threat is really important.”
Brad Stevens is a man of considerable thought and calculation.
It’s that measured approach that has taken him to 48 wins in his third season at the helm of the Celtics with the NBA’s third-youngest roster.
It’s also that approach that he’s going to rely on when determining if and how much Kelly Olynyk and his re-aggravated right shoulder will play tonight in Game 2. It’s also that thinking that will play into how Stevens plans to replace the injured Avery Bradley, who is out for Game 2 and “very likely” the rest of the series with a significant strain of his right hamstring. Will he increase the load on players like Isaiah Thomas, Jared Sullinger and Jae Crowder?
“Depends on if it’s beneficial or not,” Stevens told reporters Tuesday at Philips Arena. “I think, at the end of the game, you better have all the juice you need. I think each guy is a little bit different. We know where each guy sits with that so the better players will play, or the guys that have been more productive will play closer to what we think their max would be in such a scenario.
“We’ve got all kinds of stuff to go through. As much as anything, some of the sports science stuff, but more so the 90 games worth of data on, if a guy plays a 14-minute stint, how does he come back in the next game? If the guy plays an early stint, how does he come back? Each guy has his own set of points that we can draw from from the whole season.”
Stevens could go with Evan Turner or Marcus Smart in the starting lineup to replace Bradley, depending on matchups and needs on the court.
“I think you go through the combos in practice, you go through the stats on the different group that have played together, you go through their matchups, you go through what has looked good as far as in film against Atlanta, more so than maybe — you take that into account more so because you’ve played them five times now,” Stevens added. “And then you also go through how you’re going to rotate the second group, which is probably the most challenging part. Replacing one person in the starting lineup isn’t as much of a tinkering, it’s more the second group that it affects.”
Via MassLive’s Jay King, Turner told reporters Tuesday morning he had no idea if he were starting or not.
“I’m gonna see at shootaround I guess,” Turner said. “I don’t really pay attention. I mean I pay attention (to Stevens) but I haven’t really paid attention to (the lineup) yet. So we’ll see at shootaround. I think we’re still deciding what’s the best route to go and that’s pretty much it. Figure it out later, I guess.”
As for Olynyk and his availability?
“We’ll see how it is,” Olynyk told reporters. “See how the strength is, and just go test it. See if it’s good or not.”
|Kelly Olynyk dealing with ‘pain, discomfort’ heading into Game 2, Jae Crowder ‘not 100’ percent||04.18.16 at 4:16 pm ET|
Suddenly, the Celtics’ injury woes go well beyond Avery Bradley.
There are a number of uncertainties regarding the availabilities of the Celtics heading into Game 2 in Atlanta.
Aside from Bradley, who has been ruled out by Brad Stevens for Tuesday night, the most troubling might be the status of the C’s best 3-point shooter, Kelly Olynyk. The 7-footer re-aggravated the same (shooting) shoulder he injured on Feb. 10 against the Clippers. He missed 12 games after the All-Star break.
Olynyk missed his second straight practice Monday and is questionable for Tuesday.
“Got the impression he got aggravated the other day and he’s been dealing with it for a while, obviously, since the [initial] injury,” Stevens said. “So he’s going to sit out today and we’ll see about [Tuesday] night.”
If Olynyk can’t go, the Celtics would be without two of their top three perimeter shooters in Bradley and Olynyk.
“We’ll see. Hopefully. Probably just rest it today, see how it goes,” Olynyk said. “Just sore, pain, discomfort. I’m just trying to get it back.”
Olynyk told reporters Monday at Philips Arena he doesn’t recall exactly when he injured the shoulder but believes it happened sometime during the Game 1 loss.
“During the game you could definitely tell something wasn’t the same as it was for the start,” Olynyk said. “Hopefully just a little rest and recovery and get back out there.”
|Avery Bradley ‘very unlikely’ to return to series; Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk also banged up||04.17.16 at 2:35 pm ET|
The news on Avery Bradley does not sound promising for a return in the first-round series against the Hawks.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters Sunday at the team’s practice at Georgia Tech that Bradley suffered a “pretty significant” strain of his right hamstring and is “very unlikely” to return at anytime during the rest of the series.
Bradley told Stevens during the game Saturday that he heard “a pop” but told reporters after the game that he would take every type of treatment and hold out hope of returning, if not Tuesday for Game 2 then sometime during the series.
On Sunday, Stevens made it sound like that would likely take an act of God.
“Certainly very unlikely Tuesday night [for Game 2],” Stevens told reporters before practice Sunday. “As of now I would say he’s out Tuesday night. Obviously he’ll continue to get treatment around the clock and go from there.”
Bradley injured his right hamstring after going up to block a shot from Hawks guard Jeff Teague with just over six minutes left in the fourth quarter Saturday night. He came down and began to race up court when he suddenly pulled up lame.
“We’ve obviously had games without him before, and we have to have other guys step up,” Stevens continued. “I think the biggest challenge is that we’re playing small anyways. So you might have to go even deeper into that, which is OK.”
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