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Brad Stevens on return of Kelly Olynyk: ‘We’ll see how much he plays’ 03.16.16 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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Read More: Boston Celtics, Coty Clarke, Kelly Olynyk, Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant on Boston: ‘I like the city a lot’ at 4:04 pm ET
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Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

In Boston for a nationally televised showdown with the Celtics on Wednesday night, impending free agent Kevin Durant said exactly what every C’s fan wanted to hear.

“I like the city a lot,” the Oklahoma City forward told The Boston Globe from shootaround in the hours before tipoff. “It’s cold, but they love sports here. It’s a family atmosphere I feel when I walk around the city, so yeah, I like it a lot.”

As the Globe’s Gary Washburn noted, injuries have prevented the 2013-14 NBA MVP from playing at TD Garden since Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo were still starting for the Celtics during the 2012-13 season. But that hasn’t kept Durant from keeping an eye on the rebuilding efforts of coach Brad Stevens in Boston.

“I’ve been watching this team a lot,” he added. “They’re scrappy. They play hard. They love their coach. They love their system, and especially in this building, they play with a lot of energy. So it’s going to be a tough test.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Durant, NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder
Stud and Duds: Marcus Smart leads Celtics past Thunder 11.15.15 at 10:15 pm ET
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After staying within striking distance in the first half, Marcus Smart and the Celtics turned a seven-point halftime deficit into a double-digit lead with a 27-6, second-half run en route to a 100-85 win at Oklahoma City.

Smart scored 15 of his career-high 26 points in the third quarter, propelling the C’s offense in the second half. Isaiah Thomas‘ nine-point fourth quarter pushed the Celtics‘ lead to 88-76 with 6:38 left, and Boston’s defense held Oklahoma City to 11 fourth-quarter points, stifling any comeback attempt. Thomas finished with 20 points and eight assists. Avery Bradley returned from injury to score 14 points off the bench. Jae Crowder added 10 points, while Jared Sullinger grabbed 15 rebounds to go along with eight points.

Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 27 points and Serge Ibaka had a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) for the Thunder.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Marcus Smart. Smart went off, scoring his 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting (3-4 3P) opposite Westbrook. He also played solid defense and made big stops in the second half (see the Vine of the night below).

DUD OF THE NIGHTEvan Turner. Turner struggled offensively against the Thunder, scoring just points on 1-of-5 shooting and collecting three assists against two turnovers. However, he did finish plus-12 in 24 minutes.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Marcus Smart, NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder
5 things we learned as Russell Westbrook, Thunder snap Celtics’ streak 03.18.15 at 10:48 pm ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

The Thunder scored 40 third-quarter points, and the Celtics never recovered, snapping a five-game win streak with a 122-118 loss in Oklahoma City.

The C’€™s fell to 30-37 on the season, losing a game on the Heat (31-36), who beat the Blazers on Wednesday night. Elsewhere, the Pacers (30-37) fell to the Bulls, the Bucks (34-34) lost to the Spurs, and the Cavaliers beat the Nets (27-39). The Celtics lead the idle Hornets by a half-game and remain tied with Indiana for eighth place, trailing Miami by a game for seventh and Milwaukee by 3.5 games for sixth.

Marcus Smart collected 25 points — including a franchise rookie record seven 3-pointers — to go along with nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks, leading six Celtics in double figures. Kelly Olynyk (20 points), Brandon Bass (20 points), Avery Bradley (13 points), Tyler Zeller (12 points) and Jae Crowder (11 points) rounded out the double-digit scorers, and Evan Turner chipped in with five steals, six rebounds, eight points and a team-high 10 assists.

Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 36 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and five steals, while Enes Kanter added 22 points and 10 rebounds. With the victory, Oklahoma City (38-30) opened up a half-game lead over the Pelicans for eighth place in the Western Conference sans Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka.

For a complete box score, click here.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Marcus Smart, NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder
Brad Stevens wasn’t too pleased with his defense: ‘We were a sieve’ 11.13.14 at 10:02 am ET
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Brad Stevens isn’t the kind of coach to throw chairs or even raise his voice to get his point across when he’s ticked off at his team.

But Wednesday night, after a complete and utter no-show in the second half of a 109-94 loss to the undermanned Thunder at the Garden, Stevens came as close to publicly calling them out as you’ll see from the mild-manned coach.

“Well, I think it was, first of all, their energy and their togetherness, and their energy,” Stevens said. “Their passion was obvious and evident. And I don’€™t know if it was the fact that we missed a couple of shots that got us out of a rhythm, but the bottom line is we didn’€™t guard them at all in the second half. And they had a lot to do with that. They ran good stuff, and they made shots.”

Former Boston College sharpshooter Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow (28 points each) picked up the slack for a team missing Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Thunder, who trailed 51-42 at the half, outscored the Celtics, 67-43, in the second half, as Boston allowed Oklahoma City to shoot 62 percent (26-of-42).

“Credit to them,” Stevens said. “We talked about guys like Morrow; if you ever leave Morrow, he’€™s going to score,” Stevens said. “If you ever get hit on a screen and you’€™re lost, he’€™s going to score. And he scored a lot. And we let the big’s run down the lane and dunk it a couple times. I mean, 67 points in a half is pretty poor.”

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Read More: Anthony Morrow, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Oklahoma City Thunder
Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins and a Celtics brotherhood at 1:31 am ET
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Those 2007-08 Celtics share a bond that won’t be broken, so it wasn’t surprising to see Leon Powe waiting in the visiting locker room for Thunder center Kendrick Perkins to get dressed Wednesday night.

“Sometimes you just need a reality check,” said Perkins, who has worked through his share of ups and downs in Oklahoma City, coming off the bench in Wednesday’s 109-94 win over his former team. “Sometimes people you love just have to put you in place and talk to you, and that’s all you need at times, is just that one person to talk to.

“I go to a lot of people, man,” he added. “I talk to [Kevin Garnett] a lot. I talk to [Rajon] Rondo a lot. KG is the one who tells me the truth all the time. He’s going to tell me the truth whether I want to hear it or not.”

Rondo wouldn’t share exactly what he and he and his former teammate discuss.

“I can’€™t really say what we talk about, really,” he said. “He told me some things, too, but I won’€™t put him on blast.”

Perkins is a little more forthcoming about their relationship. They became best friends as the young tandem that filled out a starting five that featured Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, so when Perkins was dealt to OKC for Jeff Green at the 2011 trade deadline, it taught them both a less in NBA business. Still, they remain thick as thieves.

Naturally, as Perkins and Rondo approach unrestricted free agency for the first time in their careers, their conversations occasionally focus on the future. “I think it’€™s a great place for him,” Perkins told reporters prior to the game. “I think he wants to stay here. We talk on the regular, and I think he should stay. If I was him, I’€™d stay.”

Rondo didn’t disagree. “That’s about accurate,” said the Celtics captain. “From Media Day in the beginning, that’€™s what I said initially, so … my perspective hasn’t changed, and I love being a Celtic.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Kendrick Perkins, NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder
5 things we learned from the Celtics’ loss to the Thunder 11.12.14 at 9:54 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo's 20 points couldn't stop a Celtics meltdown. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Rajon Rondo‘s 20 points couldn’t stop a Celtics meltdown. (Getty Images)

The Celtics are tough to figure out.

Coming in riding a two-game win streak, the C’€™s raced to a 15-point lead in the first quarter, but then struggled against a star-less Thunder team that picked up its first road win of the season by a score of 109-94 (click here for box score).

The win for Oklahoma City was reminiscent of Boston’€™s short-handed victory against the heavily favored Bulls on the second night of a back-to-back last Saturday. The Thunder did not look like the team that lost Tuesday night in Milwaukee, beating the Celtics in convincing fashion.

Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow led the Thunder with 28 points each. Morrow came off the bench and was quiet much of the game, until exploding for 19 points in the fourth quarter.

Although Morrow’s contributions were well above average, the Thunder managed to take a 50-15 advantage over the Celtics in bench scoring. This was far from expected given that the Thunder’s depleted roster was facing off against a Celtics squad that prides themselves on depth. Perhaps the absence of Marcus Smart and Marcus Thornton (both out with sprained ankles) cost the C’s some bench production, but it would have been hard to predict such a stark difference from Saturday.

Here are five things we learned in a game that dropped the Celtics back below .500 (3-4):

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Read More: Oklahoma City Thunder, Rajon Rondo, Reggie Jackson,
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