|Why you should care about Wednesday’s Celtics win: Marcus Smart had his best game, Jared Sullinger can rebound||10.22.14 at 10:09 pm ET|
The Celtics wrapped up the preseason with a 100-86 victory over the Nets at the TD Garden on Wednesday night (check out the box score here). Brooklyn rested its starters, while Rajon Rondo was out once again with a broken left hand for the Celtics.
Here are other reasons why you should have cared about the Celtics‘ preseason finale:
Marcus Smart had a very strong showing back in the starting point guard role
Smart opened up the game by swishing a 3-pointer out of the corner, which was nice for Celtics fans to see since shooting is one of his biggest weaknesses. However, Smart did a much better job of slashing through the lane than he has in previous games. He was able to connect on three layups in traffic, while also going 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Attacking the basket might be Smart’s biggest strength, so it was certainly positive to see him do so efficiently before the preseason came to an end.
Smart never saw the floor in the second half, but the damage was done. He racked up 16 points in just 15 minutes of action, adding four assists, a rebound and two steals. Perhaps most importantly, he did it on 5-for-8 shooting from the field — all three of his misses coming from downtown. Good things happen when Smart gets into the paint.
Jared Sullinger was a beast on the boards once again
Sullinger is a very good scorer, but he is a phenomenal rebounder. After ripping down 19 boards on Sunday, Sullinger grabbed 13 in the first half alone Wednesday. He finished the game with what is becoming a classic Sullinger stat line — 15 points and 17 rebounds. Sullinger did so while shooting 7-for-10 from the field in 26 minutes of action.
James Young returned from a hamstring injury
Young hurt his hamstring while warming up for the first preseason game, but kept that information to himself and ended up by playing in the game. Young posted 10 points in his debut, but then has missed each preseason contest since. He also didn’t play in a summer league game following a car crash.
The rookie wasted no time Wednesday, nailing a 3-pointer on his first possession in the game. He finished with just five points and four rebounds, but keep in mind it was just his second professional game. Young has plenty of room to grow this season.
Boston, he’s home.
Brian Scalabrine announced his homecoming in LeBron James-esque fashion in August, as the former Celtics power forward will handle the bulk of color commentary for Celtics road games this season for Comcast Sports New England.
“LeBron really set the template for me,” a smiling Scalabrine said. “But I put that letter together once I knew I was going back to Boston and I wasn’t coaching anymore.”
Scalabrine returned to Boston on Tuesday night for a welcome home party at Battery Park hosted by 2 Gingers Irish whiskey, and he sat down with WEEI.com to share his thoughts on why he’s no longer coaching, Rajon Rondo‘s future in green, and his memories playing with the NBA champion Celtics.
Although he was demoted last season from his job as a Warriors assistant coach after having a falling out with then-coach Mark Jackson, Scalabrine said he left coaching — despite having offers — to spend more time with his family, including three children under the age of 8.
“It’s better for me, right now in my life, to have a much better balance in my life with my family and basketball,” he explained. “It looked like leaving coaching was not my decision, but in reality, it was my decision to leave the Warriors.”
While Celtics fans will enjoy the opportunity to hear Scalabrine analyze games and banter with Mike Gorman during road trips, he said he did have opportunities to join an NBA staff this season, including that of new Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
“But I still have an opportunity to coach. I had an opportunity to work out players before the draft, and I worked out Marcus Smart, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid. This job is a great opportunity to be around the game without the grind of film and all the other major commitments.”
Scalabrine isn’t shy to admit the Celtics — as currently constituted — are a fringe playoff team. But he says they’re not as far away as some might think.
“The Celtics are one really good center away,” he said. “And I’m talking about a guy who can plug the lane or roll down the lane, get the ball from Rondo and rise up. This team has Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, two really good stretch 4’s that also rebound and defend their position. But if you add a 5 to the mix — a Steven Adams type or Omer Asik — this team goes from fighting to make the playoffs to a team fighting for home-court advantage.”
|Celtics not ruling Rajon Rondo out for season opener||10.20.14 at 12:42 pm ET|
The Celtics haven’t ruled out All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo for the Oct. 29 season opener against the Nets in Boston. C’s coach Brad Stevens told reporters before Monday’s practice that a scan of Rondo’s left metacarpal, which he broke at home late last month, showed enough positive signs to consider his early return a possibility.
Asked whether he expected to be back for the opener, Rondo simply told reporters, “I don’t know.”
While he hasn’t been cleared for contact, Rondo has been ably catching and dribbling with his left hand and running the offense in practice. An Oct. 29 return would come just less than five weeks after he suffered the injury and roughly 10 days ahead of the team’s original estimated timetable of 6-8 weeks.
Meanwhile, Celtics rookie James Young (hamstring) has been cleared for practice and is expected to be in uniform in Wednesday’s preseason finale against Brooklyn at TD Garden.
|Celtics practice notes: Rajon Rondo improves, Jeff Green returns, rotation starts coming together||10.14.14 at 2:01 pm ET|
The Celtics kicked off the preseason with a busy stretch of four games in just six nights. They since have had an off day, then practice resumed on Monday and Tuesday in Waltham leading up to Wednesday’s game against the Raptors in Maine.
Here are some notes from prior to Tuesday’s practice.
Rajon Rondo shows improvement
Rondo has been on the court shooting the ball prior to each preseason game, which is a very good sign. He also has been doing ball handling with his broken left hand (with a brace on it). All signs point to Rondo being right on schedule in his recovery, if not ahead of schedule.
“We’ve increased his conditioning within workouts,” Brad Stevens said. “So what we’ve done is, the last couple of days, we’ve actually worked him out with a couple of other guys early in a small group. And then he’ll do all of the non-contact stuff in our workout, which [Tuesday] will be most of the workout. So that’ll be good. He’s getting there, it’s just a matter of he can’t be involved in contact.”
Jeff Green returns from calf injury
Green has been practicing this week, and Stevens indicated he will be in shape to play against Toronto.
“Yeah, he’ll play [Wednesday],” Stevens said. “That’ll be part of his conditioning.”
With the emergence of Evan Turner so far this preseason, Stevens would like to find ways to get Turner and Green on the court at the same time now that Green is back. It’s something Turner sees going well.
“I think Jeff and I have a good rapport,” Turner said. “It’s all about communication, and once again, [Green] is our go-to-guy. I just want to play, so whatever he wants I’m going to do.”
Turner expressed confidence that he and Green will be able to play off one another.
“We attempted to,” he said with a laugh. “We played together before he got hurt, too, so I think clearly he will have to get re-acclimated because he hasn’t played in the last couple of weeks, but it should be fine.”
|Celtics open training camp, Brad Stevens ready for more aggressive approach||09.30.14 at 7:04 pm ET|
The Celtics kicked off training camp Tuesday with two-a-days at the team’s training facility in Waltham. It’s somewhat of a new trend for the team, which has journeyed to Newport, Rhode Island, for training camp the last several years.
Brad Stevens had a simple state of mind as to why the team is staying local.
“Because my office is here,” he said. “The computer is there, the TV I know how to work is in the same place. The equipment guys don’t have to carry thousands of bags. The video guys don’t have to move their whole life. It made a lot more sense to stay here. … The kind of work we get done is a lot more important than anything else, like where we do it.”
Stevens indicated he may have moved things along a bit too slowly last season and wants to take a more aggressive approach this time around.
“I’ve got a great idea about how fast or how slow I need to go,” he said. “Right now, in a lot of ways I’m trying to throw as much at them as possible in the next three days and then we’ll break it down after that.”
Added Stevens: “I thought I was too gradual last year and so we’re going to be a lot quicker in that. But at the same time, at the appropriate time, after a couple of days we’ll stop and hopefully break it down.”
With Rajon Rondo out of camp with a broken hand, Stevens briefly explained the team’s point guard situation on the first day of camp: “We had three teams, Evan [Turner], Marcus [Smart] and Phil [Pressey].”
Turner is less of a true point guard than Smart and Pressey, but that doesn’t concern Stevens.
“One thing is you don’t really know [is how Turner will respond], but he’s better with the ball than not,” Stevens said, adding: “Not withstanding Rondo, he’s as good of a pick-and-roll player as we have.”
Continued Stevens: “We have one point guard healthy that has NBA experience and that’s Phil Pressey. And that’s not a lot of it. I’m not as worried about [the point guard position] because I think people are going to put you in a box for your position, and I’m just not going to do that. I’m not going to worry about it. [Turner's] a ball handler, he can make plays, he’s smart. And then I think that keeps our other guys in the positions that they’re most comfortable.”
The Celtics continue camp in Waltham all week before hosting a practice at the TD Garden on Friday for season ticket-holders.
|All the Rajon Rondo news that’s fit to print on media day||09.29.14 at 2:52 pm ET|
“Usually, how falls happen, you slip, and I slipped and tried to catch my hand,” said Rondo. “It wasn’t like a banana slip. I actually almost caught myself and landed on my knuckle on the windowsill at my home. So, that’s how it happened.”
“They’re telling me 10 weeks, some doctors say 8, but since Dr. McKeon claims to be the best surgeon, he thinks I’ll be back pretty quickly,” he said, especially since the injury occurred to his non-shooting hand.
Pressed further on the injury, Rondo responded in wonderful Rondo fashion to the rumors that he broke the bone in his hand at a trampoline park.
“On Tuesday, I took my daughter to a trampoline park on Tuesday, and I did jump,” he said. “I learned some new tricks with my daughter. It was a lot of fun.
“Wednesday was her birthday. I went to ‘The Lion King’ with my daughter. I spent the day playing a softball game with a team, which we won. I scored about three runs. I didn’t bat like I was supposed to. We didn’t play at a softball field; I couldn’t hit out of the park. I made a couple top-10 catches and a one-hand grab and throw-out at first base that was really good. I impressed myself with that.
“Thursday came, and I took my kids back to a trampoline park in Billerica. I didn’t jump that day. I just let my kids play and run off some steam. It was a school night, so I wanted to go for about 45 minutes. People were really nice there. They let me in for free, so that was good. And that night, I went home, and that’s when the incident happened, so it didn’t happen at the trampoline place.”
Soon after the Celtics announced point guard Rajon Rondo broke a metacarpal in his left hand during a fall at his home Thursday — reportedly in the shower — and will miss 6-8 weeks of the season following surgery, Barstool Sports published a photo of Rondo at Billerica’s Altitude Trampoline Park the same day, fueling wild speculation.
Over the weekend, a pair of Altitude employees denied on Twitter any knowledge of the injury taking place at the business. “He sat and watched his kids jump,” said the employee who appeared in the photo with Rondo.
For what it's worth, a pair of Altitude Trampoline Park employees now saying Rondo did not suffer injury there. pic.twitter.com/TpAc5Svokf
— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) September 28, 2014
And on Monday, Altitude co-owner Kerry Hughes issued the following statement to WEEI: “In regards to Rajon Rondo‘s visit to Altitude in Billerica on Thursday the only comment we have is that he was here with his children and his children were the only members of his party that enjoyed jumping, climbing and our battle beam pit. He did not attract much attention as he only sat on a couch and watched his children enjoy our park’s activities. He appreciated our professional staff and allowed a few pictures to be taken. He left with no injuries or incident.”