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Brad Stevens on Kelly Olynyk’s return: ‘He looked like a guy that hadn’t played in 5 1/2 weeks’ 03.16.16 at 11:14 pm ET
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Celtics center Kelly Olynyk (41) returned from a right shoulder injury Wednesday. (Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports)

Celtics center Kelly Olynyk returned from a right shoulder injury Wednesday. (Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports)

It was pretty much what Kelly Olynyk and his coach expected Wednesday night.

The 7-footer made his return to the Celtics rotation against the Thunder after missing 12 games with a partially separated right shoulder. Before Olynyk entered the game for Marcus Smart with 4:47 left in the first quarter, his status was up in the air until shortly before game time, when the big man determined he felt good enough to get back on the court.

In his team’s 130-109 blowout loss, Olynyk played 22 minutes off the bench. He certainly showed signs of rust, shooting just 1-for-7 from the field, including 0-for-2 from beyond the arc. He finished with eight points, six of which came from the free throw line.

In his postgame press conference, Celtics coach Brad Stevens did not sugarcoat his evaluation of Olynyk.

“He looked like a guy that hadn’t played in 5 1/2 weeks, which is to be expected,” Stevens said. “Which is why we put him back in at the end of the game. The more minutes the better.”

Olynyk took several hits to his shoulder early in the game, including one from Kevin Durant with 19.4 seconds left in the opening quarter that resulted in him missing one of his two free throws. Olynyk appeared to be uncomfortable at times. He stayed in the game, however, playing through the pain.

“Yeah, took a couple hits to it, little pain and discomfort,” Olynyk said. “And you know, just trying to keep its strength and keep those muscles activated. … hopefully you don’t take too big of a bump, but other than that it felt all right out there. It was just good to get back in the rhythm.”

The Celtics now have dropped three straight games in what is a critical stretch of the season. Next, the team will travel to Toronto to face yet another formidable opponent in the Raptors. Olynyk hopes to put this game in the rearview and help his team pick up a much-needed win Friday.

“It was good to be back out there, unfortunately the game didn’t go the way we wanted,” Olynyk said. “But we have another Friday and we’ve got to keep pushing.”

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Brad Stevens on return of Kelly Olynyk: ‘We’ll see how much he plays’ at 6:08 pm ET
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Celtics head coach Brad Stevens (L) and center Kelly Olynyk (41) are searching for best return path. (Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports)

Celtics coach Brad Stevens and center Kelly Olynyk are searching for the best return path. (Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports)

After 12 games on the sidelines, it appears Kelly Olynyk finally is ready to return to action. 

Olynyk is expected to return from his partially separated right shoulder just in time to take on Kevin Durant and the Thunder on Wednesday at TD Garden.

“Kelly told me at shootaround that he thinks he’s going to give it a go, but we’ll wait till he gets through all this stuff, but it sounds like he’s going to try to give it a go,” coach Brad Stevens said an hour, 45 minutes before tipoff Wednesday. “We’ll see how much he plays. Obviously he hasn’t done much other than our practices the last five-plus weeks.”

Olynyk injured the shoulder in the first half of the game against the Clippers on Feb. 10 at the Garden. It appeared that he would be ready to go Tuesday in Indiana after taking part in a full contact practice on Sunday. But he was held out after indicating to coaches that he wasn’t quite ready. 

“I think [confidence] is a big deal,” Stevens said. “That’s depending on how much pain you’re having. There’s only one person that can answer that question and that’s him. That’s why he’s been smart about it. We didn’t want him to come back until he was ready to roll and didn’t feel tentative. He’s going to have some pain there and that’s part of it. But I think at the end of the day he feels more comfortable today than he has before.”

The Celtics could use Olynyk’s 3-point prowess. He leads the team at 41.3 percent. The Celtics have converted just 16 of 63 from beyond the arc in the last two games, both losses. 

“If you’re going to play small, you better be able to shoot,” Stevens said. “You better be able to make shots or you better be able to get out in transition and really run because otherwise the lane’s clogged. We’re going to have to continue to find better shots than we did last night. I thought we guarded about as well as we could have last night. That’ll be significantly tested again. Hey, this is a tough stretch of games for us. I’m conscious of that. At the same time, I think we need to play better offensively to beat a team of this caliber.”

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An improving Kelly Olynyk ‘striving for’ Tuesday return 03.13.16 at 3:48 pm ET
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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.”

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Kelly Olynyk misses 11th straight game, Jared Sullinger (skin infection) good to go 03.11.16 at 7:10 pm ET
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Celtics head coach Brad Stevens (L) and center Kelly Olynyk (41) are searching for best return path. (Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports)

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens (L) and center Kelly Olynyk (41) are searching for best return path. (Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports)

The status remains the same on Kelly Olynyk. 

The 7-foot sharp-shooter was ruled out Friday night before the Celtics took the court against the Rockets, the 11th straight game he’s missed since partially separating his right shoulder in the first half against the Clippers on Feb. 10. 

“[He’s] not playing. We didn’t do anything today,” Stevens said before Friday’s game. “I’m assuming he’ll just stay on the same path of progress and feel better and better as he move towards next week’s games.”

The Celtics play four of their next five on the road, visiting Indiana next Tuesday before coming home to play the Thunder on Wednesday at the Garden. They will head on the road to play in Toronto next Friday and in Philadelphia on March 20. 

As for Jared Sullinger and his skin infection that had him wearing a wrap around his stomach against Memphis, Stevens said he was again ready to go. Sullinger hasn’t missed any game action but hasn’t taken part in the team’s practice on Monday, Tuesday or Thursday. Stevens said the team didn’t want Sullinger to “overdo it” in practice and re-hydrate after the events earlier in the week. 

“He looks to me like he’s got a different bounce,” Stevens said pre-game Friday. “We did a little jog-through and he looked good.”

Sullinger was limited to just 12 points and five rebounds in 21 minutes against Memphis, as his stomach wrap had to be re-applied. In his nine previous games, Sullinger was averaging 12.4 points and 10.6 rebounds, including five double-doubles. 

 

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Kelly Olynyk on his injured right shoulder: ‘Same story, different day’ 03.10.16 at 3:45 pm ET
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WALTHAM — The news doesn’t seem to be getting any more optimistic for Kelly Olynyk and his partially separated right shoulder. 

Olynyk, who was termed a ‘50-50‘ proposition on Tuesday to play against Memphis, didn’t take part in any contact drills Thursday, in part because the team held a light workout and in part because he couldn’t handle it if they did. 

“Same story, different day,” Olynyk said of the continuing stiffness in his shoulder that is allowing him to shoot but not much else. “It’s just that you do what you can do at the level you want to do it. It’s still a little bit restricting. Not where it needs to be in terms of basketball movements to the level where it’s comfortable.”

“Kelly went through practice,” Stevens said Thursday. “We didn’t go any contact, so it wasn’t like it was a big deal to judge from that, but I would say that he is still in the same boat as [Wednesday].”

Since the Feb. 10 injury against the Clippers, the Celtics have managed a 7-3 record without him. 

“It’s definitely easier when they’re playing well and playing together,” Olynyk said. “It’s tough when they lose and you really want to be out there to make a difference.”

Olynyk said earlier in the week, when he was cleared to return to full practice, that he could shoot but couldn’t do much more. On Tuesday he took some contact in practice but Wednesday, he was not cleared for game action and was inactive. Olynyk said he doesn’t want to go on the court and not be able to do what the team needs from him. 

“It’s not really one-dimensional. If you have no dimensions then you’re just filling space, really,” Olynyk added. 

And his jump shot? 

“That’s feeling alright. It’s when you try to lean on people, hold people off, get into different positions, rebound the basketball,” Olynyk said. “Your shot is straight forward, up and down, instead of across your body.

“It’s more just getting out there. [Bryan Doo] and the trainers have done it for a long time. B-Doo is working on strengthening, and the trainers are working on keeping everything loose.”

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Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) ’50-50′ for Wednesday 03.08.16 at 4:58 pm ET
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Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk

WALTHAM – It’s wait-and-see time for Kelly Olynyk and the Celtics.

The 7-footer who’s been out since injuring his right shoulder in the second quarter of the Feb. 10 game against the Clippers went through practice Tuesday and was cleared for contact.

“Kelly did everything in practice, will probably do a little bit more with the young guys, we’ll reevaluate [Wednesday],” Brad Stevens said after practice Tuesday. “He’s day-to-day. I just asked him how he was doing and he said he was a little bit tentative. He didn’t play that way. He played five-on-five and did all of that stuff, and that was encouraging.

“I would say based on [practice], it would be 50-50, questionable, that he goes [Wednesday].”

Stevens said that if cleared, sitting out four weeks won’t affect Olynyk.

“Other than the shoulder, sure,” Stevens said. “He takes pretty good care of himself, takes care of his body, pretty diligent in that regard. Anytime you haven’t played in a few weeks that first wind might hit you. He shouldn’t have a problem.”

Olynyk admitted that he’s still sore after taking some contact in practice.

“It’s still not quite there, so we’ll see where it is. It’s all right. It’s still sore, a little discomfort, but it’s good to get back out there,” said Olynyk, who just shot around on Monday. “It’s still sore. There’s discomfort and pain, so obviously I’m a little tentative. I don’t feel like I’m at full strength or at full motion.

“The conditioning wasn’t bad. [Bryan Doo] kept me in pretty good shape. I’ve been riding the bike non-stop, treadmill stuff, swimming. I don’t think that’s too big of an issue. Obviously basketball is a different kind of conditioning and game conditioning is a little bit different, but you’ll get that back pretty quick.

“It’s good to feel what it can take and where it’s at. Hopefully keep improving. I don’t want any setbacks or anything like that. Keep going at the right level.”

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Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) returns to practice ‘still a little stiff and sore’ 03.07.16 at 2:49 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Kelly Olynyk was just happy to be back on the practice court Monday with his teammates. 

At what Brad Stevens termed essentially just a shoot-around with some 3-on-3 and skill work, Olynyk returned and did some shooting of his own to test the shoulder that was injured in the first half of the game against the Clippers on Feb. 10 at TD Garden.

“Just some skill work, just to test things out and see where I’m at,” Olynyk said. “Feel all right. Still a little stiff and sore, not back to where it was before but it’s definitely on the right path. Just trying to keep my conditioning up, get in the weight room, just strengthening it. A little bit of [shooting]. The shot feels all right. It’s more the quick movements and crossing, jumping up and grabbing the ball, stretch, that kind of stuff.”

Being ready for Wednesday against Memphis seems to be a stretch at this point.

“We’ll see it how it goes,” Olynyk said. “It’s a little sore, a little stiff. I’d say it’s still not exactly where I want it to be yet but it’s definitely on the right path so we’ll see how it responds.”

The plan now is to let the shoulder respond and keep in touch with trainer Ed Lacerte and team doctor Brian McKeon. 

“Talked to Ed, talked to Doc and come up with some [plan]. Just want to make sure it’s good enough where it’s not at risk of doing it again. Didn’t get evaluating yet. Had to go through this workout first and then see where we’re at.

“I didn’t do any contact stuff [Monday]. It was more skill work at my own pace. Super excited to get back. It’s tough watching them out there. You want to be out there with him, helping them out. It’s easy if they’re winning. It’s tough if we’re losing then you really want to get out there and see if you can make a difference.”

Stevens watched as Olynyk went through the drills on Monday.

“Same. Kind of day-to-day now,” Stevens said. “See how Kelly feels [Tuesday]. I’m sure he said that as well. And I’ve only talked to them real briefly after we just did a shootaround. So we didn’t do a whole lot. But he shot the ball in. He seemed to feel more comfortable with extending his range as the day went on. So we’ll see.”

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