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Brad Stevens says Kelly Olynyk ‘questionable’ for Game 3, Avery Bradley hints at return 04.20.16 at 3:55 pm ET
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Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk

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. 

Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics
Marcus Smart starts, Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) sits out Game 2 04.19.16 at 6:41 pm ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

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.”

Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Kelly Olynyk
Brad Stevens mum on plans for Kelly Olynyk (shoulder), Evan Turner and Marcus Smart at 5:06 pm ET
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Boston's multitude of injuries has given Brad Stevens a headache. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports)

Boston’s multitude of injuries has given Brad Stevens a headache. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports)

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.”

Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Evan Turner
Kelly Olynyk dealing with ‘pain, discomfort’ heading into Game 2, Jae Crowder ‘not 100’ percent 04.18.16 at 4:16 pm ET
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Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) drives to the basket against Boston Celtics center Kelly Olynyk (41) and forward Amir Johnson (90) during the second half in game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena. (John David Mercer-USA Today Sports)

Hawks forward Paul Millsap drives to the basket past Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk during the second half of Saturday’s game. (John David Mercer/USA Today Sports)

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.”

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Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics
Avery Bradley ‘very unlikely’ to return to series; Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk also banged up 04.17.16 at 2:35 pm ET
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Avery Bradley

Avery Bradley

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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Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics
Jae Crowder takes some steps, Kelly Olynyk showing off some D 03.23.16 at 7:26 pm ET
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Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) drives to the hoop against Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) during the second half at TD Garden on Mar. 11. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) drives to the hoop against Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) during the second half at TD Garden. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Jae Crowder continues to take some small steps on his way back from the high sprain of his right ankle that forced him to miss his sixth straight game Wednesday night against the Raptors.

“He shot [Tuesday] with [assistant coach] Jamie Young for a while,” Brad Stevens said before Wednesday’s game against Toronto. “He shot pregame today but from what I’ve been told, I don’t think there’s any movement shooting. I think it’s just spot shooting so no real update. He’s going to go on our trip. I don’t want to put a timeline on him but I don’t anticipate him playing early in the trip.”

Stevens was asked if he thinks Crowder’s uncertainly might leave the Celtics a bit shorthanded on the five-game trip out West.

“I don’t think so right now. Obviously, if we have more issues, we’ll address as we move forward.” 

The Celtics sent Coty Clarke and James Young on the trip out to Texas for games Wednesday and Friday. They are expected to join the Celtics when they begin their trip in Phoenix Saturday night. 

“I expect them to, yeah. I haven’t talked to Danny [Ainge] yet. They play on their trip and then they’re going to hop over and join us after that,” Stevens said. 

One of the keys to the Celtics keeping pace without Crowder is the continued play of Kelly Olynyk. On Monday, Olynyk scored 22 points off the bench against the Magic. But his defense also made an impact on Stevens. 

“I think he’s a position player. He’s a guy that can keep people in front of him,” Stevens said. “He actually switches better than people think. He’s got pretty good feet on the perimeter and he’s good in our pick-and-roll system. Kelly’s greatest strength on the defensive end is adding to the team defense.

“He’ s a guy that’s been here three years and a guy with that kind of size and understands the game and feels good about the game. The game has slowed down for him in some ways and that can have a good impact.”

As anyone knows who watches the Celtics, shot-blocking is not Olynyk’s expertise. He has just 31 blocks in 58 games this season. 

“It’s not fair to compare him to a 7-foot shot blocker because he’s not a shot blocker,” Stevens said. “He’s a guy that has to use position, has to use his base, his feet and move and keep guys in front of him, and make the right play. He took the charge in Philly the other night with great positioning. The other day against Orlando, he had some great positioning plays. So, I think it’s a lot less about height. It’s a lot more about being in his stance and playing low and playing lower longer than the guy he’s playing against.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, NBA
Kelly Olynyk does away with shoulder brace, gets ‘back in rhythm’ with 22-point effort in win 03.21.16 at 11:46 pm ET
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In the previous three games with a black shoulder sleeve/brace protecting his injured right shoulder, Kelly Olynyk didn’t look like himself.

The best 3-point shooter on the team (41.3 percent) before his Feb. 10 injury against the Clippers could barely reach the rim with authority on his shot. And he knew it.

He made just one of ten from beyond the arc in losses against the Thunder and Raptors and a win over the Sixers Sunday night, including misses on all four tries in Philadelphia. He was just 5-of-22 overall (22.7 percent).

Something had to change so on Monday, before the game against the Magic, Olynyk decided to go without the brace and the impact was noticeable starting with shootaround, where he was getting more lift on his shot.

It paid off when he hit his first two shots from beyond the arc. He was in a rhythm and that propelled him to a 22-point night off the bench in Boston’s 107-96 win over the Magic at TD Garden.

“Yeah, just getting out there, back in the rhythm, back in motion, yeah, it was better range of motion without the shirt on, definitely. And just went out there and played confidently,” Olynyk said.

“If you miss six weeks of basketball, you’re going to be rusty when you get back,” coach Brad Stevens added. “Every game you play, every practice you have, you feel a little bit better. You don’t know when that’s really going to happen, especially with an upper-body injury where you haven’t been able to shoot much. But you knew it was going to come around at some point.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Kelly Olynyk, NBA
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