Nader, Jackson start D-League season with strong performances

Nader, Jackson start D-League season with strong performances

BOSTON – One of the many roles Development League teams must play is to help with the growth of the NBA team’s draft picks. 

We’re only two games into the D-League season, but that truth seems to be playing out with the Boston Celtics and their D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. 

The Red Claws (2-0) opened the season with a back-to-back set of games, winning both courtesy of strong performances from a pair of its draft picks last June. 

Abdel Nader, selected by Boston with the 58th overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, is the Red Claws’ top scorer at 27.5 points per game to go along with 4.5 assists and 3.0 steals.

Do not be shocked if at some point this season, the 6-foot-8 small forward gets a call-up with the Celtics. 

Nader was among the top players on Boston’s summer league teams (Salt Lake City and Las Vegas) when he averaged 10.0 points per game while shooting 48.4 percent from the field and 44.0 percent on 3s. 

Demetrius Jackson, selected by Boston with the 45th overall pick, had a strong summer run as well which played a major role in Boston signing him to a four-year deal in which the first year is fully guaranteed and years 2-4 each partially guaranteed.

The reason he’s in the D-League is because as the Celtics roster stands now, there’s just not going to be many opportunities for him to get on the floor. 

But when that opportunity has presented itself, Jackson showed that he was indeed up to the challenge. 

The 6-foot-1 guard has appeared in two games for the Celtics, averaging 5.0 points per game while shooting 75 percent (3-for-4) from the field in just 7.4 minutes per game. 

So it’s no surprise that he has been a highly effective scorer with the Red Claws. 

In two games, Jackson is the team’s second-leading scorer at 25.5 points per game behind Nader. The 22-year-old is shooting 53.3 percent from the field and 45.5 percent on 3's while dishing out 5.5 assists.

The Red Claws’ next game is Tuesday at Rio Grande Valley and the next home game for them will be Friday against the Long Island Nets.

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

1:13 - The Celtics came away with a 105-100 win in Portland on Friday night. Find out why Chris Mannix is calling this the best Celtics win of the season.

6:05 - Mannix discusses details about Kyrie Irving’s ‘minimally invasive’ procedure on his knee and what his level of concern is with A. Sherrod Blakely and Gary Tanguay.

10:03 - Michael Holley and Tom Curran discuss what NFL players, including Devin McCourty, are doing beyond the gridiron by being active in criminal justice reform discussions held at Harvard this week.



Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

When you think about Marcus Morris these days, big-time scoring immediately comes to mind. 

But in Boston’s 105-100 comeback win over Portland, Morris’ contributions went beyond the game-high 30 points he dropped on the Blazers.

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“Coach (Brad Stevens) is doing a great job of getting me the ball in my spots and my teammates are finding me,” Morris told reporters after the win. “And I’m just coming through.”

He’s providing strong play and a tremendous presence at both ends of the floor which has been critical to the team navigating some choppy waters with a number of regular rotation players – namely Kyrie Irving – out with injuries.

“One thing is, he’s healthy,” said Boston’s Al Horford, referring to the sore knee that limited Morris earlier this season and at times forced him to miss games. “And the other is, he’s just more confident, he’s playing very assertive. He’s playing great right now, in a really good rhythm.”

Said Stevens: “That’s been him (Morris). As he’s continued to feel better; I think physically he’s felt as good as he’s felt. He’s comfortable in our system and we need him to score. If you’re a basketball player and your job is to score, that’s a pretty good job.”

And it’s one that even with all the injuries Boston has played through, few envisioned him being such an integral part of the offense. 

Morris’ calling card prior to arriving in Boston was his defense. 

But Morris has made it known that his focus on the floor is to be as complete a player as possible.

“I’m not trying to just limit myself to just being that scorer,” Morris said. “Also, on the defensive end I think I’m bringing it; my defense has gotten a lot better, especially my on-the-ball defense. I’m trying to be that all-around player and not just an offensive player … but I can score.”