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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,
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
Marcus Smart, Rajon Rondo injury updates 11.08.14 at 3:51 pm ET
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The Celtics‘ top two point guards are both out agains the Bulls on Saturday.

Celtics rookie Marcus Smart is expected to miss 2-3 weeks after suffering a left ankle sprain with bone bruising, according to a press release from the team. The C’s welcome the news after what initially appeared to be a more severe injury.

“Hopefully he can get back sooner rather than later,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens after Friday’s 101-98 victory against the Pacers, “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.

Meanwhile, Celtics captain Rajon Rondo did not travel with the team to Chicago, undergoing a successful procedure to remove screws from his surgically repaired left hand. He is expected to be available when the C’s host the Thunder on Wednesday.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Marcus Smart, NBA, Rajon Rondo
Brad Stevens says Marcus Smart injury makes him feel ‘glad to be a part of a team that feels like that’ 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
Five things we learned on a night the Celtics won a game, but potentially lost Marcus Smart (for a while) 11.07.14 at 9:54 pm ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

At least the Celtics avoided a bad night turning into a really bad night.

The Celts might have lost their first-round pick, Marcus Smart, for an extended period of time due to a fourth quarter, left ankle injury. (For more on Smart’s situation, click here.) But the C’s were able to avoid what would have been a demoralizing loss to a depleted Indiana team.

Down by two points heading into the final quarter, the Celtics rallied in the fourth to hang on for a 101-98 win over a Pacers club that has now lost five straight games. (For a complete box score, click here.)

It was revealed well after the game that X-rays were negative, classifying Smart’s injury as a severely sprained ankle.

THE PROMISE OF MARCUS SMART MAY HAVE TO WAIT

With the rookie being wheeled off the TD Garden floor on a stretcher, the reality of the start of Smart’s first season was severely clouded. While continuing to struggle shooting the ball — having gone 1-for-6 from the floor after coming into the game with just a 30 percent percentage — he had shown flashes both defensively and in his offensive aggressiveness.

After the game Brad Stevens said Smart had suffered either a sprained or broken left ankle, with the team still awaiting test results. A while after Stevens spoke, it was revealed the injury was a sprain.

“It’s a sprained ankle, or broken, we don’t know,” the coach said. “Obviously we’ll do the X-rays and all that stuff. We’re hoping it’s a sprain, but we don’t know that. So obviously 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. That’s what we hope it is.”

Smart came into the game averaging 21.5 minutes per game, suggesting a continued confidence from Celtics coach Stevens. A heavier reliance will most likely be put on Marcus Thornton (who played just 7 minutes Friday night) and perhaps Phil Pressey, who totaled a season-high 12 minutes.

AT LEAST THEY DIDN’T GIVE IT AWAY (THAT MUCH)

One game after allowing Toronto 36 points off of turnovers, the Celtics made it a point of hanging on to the ball. Prior to the game, C’s coach Brad Stevens suggested that the issue in the previous contest was mostly due to the efforts of the Raptors. The results Friday night supported that take.

The Celtics didn’t commit their first turnover against the Pacers until there was 7:10 left in the first half. The ball security allowed Indiana to go the entire first half without a fast break basket.

When the Celtics did start turning it over again — allowing five miscues in the third quarter — that’s when Indiana started getting back into it. After trailing by as many as 13 late in the first half, the Pacers went on a 15-0 run early in the second half to claim a brief four-point lead.

KELLY OLYNYK IS PROVING TO BE A FIND

The second-year forward has proven to be one of the most consistent performers for the Celtics, coming into the game averaging 23.9 points and 13.6 rebounds per 48 minutes, shooting 57 percent.

This time Olynyk chipped in with a solid 12 points, while grabbing five rebounds. He is now averaging 12.4 points and 26 minutes per game game.

The star big man for the Celtics would ultimately be Jared Sullinger, who exploded for 11 fourth-quarter pints to finish up with a team-high 17.

In this case Olynyk’s efforts were much-needed this time around, with Indiana making no bones about their intentions. The Pacers scored 16 of their 26 first-quarter points in the paint, with Roy Hibbert (who was coming off an 0-for=7 showing), Luis Scola, and Chris Copeland owning the inside.

Thanks to Tyler Zeller, there were moments where Celtics big men not named “Olynyk” or “Sullinger” made their presence felt …

RAJON RONDO STILL IS LOOKING FOR MAX-CONTRACT VALUE

Although he has shown flashes of dominance this season, Rondo proved good, but certainly not great, this time around.

The point guard totaled eight points on 4-of-10 shooting (8 points), staying on the floor for 28 minutes. Rondo had averaged 34 minutes and 9.3 points per game prior to Friday night.

BRAD STEVENS DIDN’T DESIGN THE NEW UNIFORMS

Before the game, when asked about the new Celtics uniforms (which they will be wearing six times this season), the Celtics coach had this to say:

‘€œI 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 [Rajon] Rondo, a couple of our other guys, what they think because they have a much better eye then I do.’€

(Click here to see the new uniforms.)

For what it’s worth, another Boston head coach, Claude Julien, was also in attendance, watching the game courtside Friday night.

Read More: Celtics, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart, Pacers
Marcus Smart carted off on stretcher after hurting ankle 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,
Raptors view Celtics as threat in Atlantic Division 11.06.14 at 9:40 am ET
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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.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, DeMar DeRozan, Dwane Casey
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