Celtics engaged in talks with Pacers for Paul George

Celtics engaged in talks with Pacers for Paul George

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum was all smiles after hearing his named called by NBA commissioner Adam Silver as the number 3 pick by Boston in Thursday night’s NBA draft.

And as he made his way towards the commissioner and put on the customary Celtics hat, a bright future surely awaited him.


But is it going to be in Boston?

CSNNE.com confirmed an earlier report by Yahoo Sports! the Vertical that the Celtics were indeed engaged in trade talks with the Indiana Pacers for Paul George.

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is no stranger to taking chances that most GMs would not consider or take a pass on.

Trading for George, who informed the Pacers that he would not re-sign a long-term deal with them and would instead prefer to play for the Los Angeles Lakers when he hits free agency in the summer of 2018, is a huge risk.

While the particulars of the possible trade are still being discussed, Boston will likely have to include the number three pick – Jayson Tatum – in a deal for George.

Ainge appears willing to gamble that a season in Boston will be enough to convince George to re-sign a long-term deal in the summer of 2018 which would be a win-win in terms of bolstering their chances to compete with Cleveland for Eastern Conference supremacy, and keep him away from the Lakers.

Celtics: Smart to be sidelined six to eight weeks

Celtics: Smart to be sidelined six to eight weeks

BOSTON – Marcus Smart is out for the remainder of the regular season, but there’s a very good chance he’ll be available at some point in the Boston Celtics' postseason quest. 
The 6-foot-4 guard underwent successful surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb which is expected to keep him sidelined for six to eight weeks. 


“It’s a tough deal for Marcus,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game. “Marcus has been an incredible player for us all year. He’s meant a lot to us.”
If we’re working from today, that would put Smart’s return to the floor most likely near the end of the first round or early in the second.
While Smart’s statistics don’t jump off the page, there’s no getting around the impact he has made on this team this season. 
After missing several games after punching a picture frame in Los Angeles, the Celtics struggled in his absence. Upon his return right after the All-Star break, the C's began playing some of their best basketball of the season. 
But as important as Smart has been to the team this season, Boston has been a “Next Man Up” squad all season, so the Celtics are well-versed on how to make up for the loss of key players. 
Look for extended minutes going forward for Terry Rozier and Abdel Nader, two of the team’s healthier perimeter players. 
Boston’s Semi Ojeleye is likely to see his role increase as well with Smart out as well as Daniel Theis who recently underwent season-ending surgery on his torn meniscus injury suffered in Boston’s 99-97 loss to Indiana. 


“We’re going to be in the process of really looking at ourselves and redistribute responsibility on our team without guys going outside of what they do best,” Stevens said. 
Smart appeared in 54 games this season, averaging 10.2 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. He has a defensive rating of 99.6 which ranks fifth in the league among players who averaged at least 28 minutes played per game.



Even more expected now from Tatum

Even more expected now from Tatum

For most rookies, that first year in the NBA is one filled with lots of learning. From that standpoint, Jayson Tatum is not all that unusual.

Still, with injuries up and down the Celtics roster, Tatum, now 20, will be looked upon to provide more than what we saw this season.

And what we’ve seen this season is pretty good.

Going forward, with players in and out of the lineup because of injuries or just rest, Tatum’s impact has to continue to expand.

We saw an aggressive Tatum at both ends of the floor in the 125-124 double-overtime loss to Washington and the Celtics will need him to bring a similar attack-mode mentality to the floor tonight against Orlando.

There’s no way to look past his missed free throw at the end of the first OT or his 3-pointer at the end of the second OT that hit the back of the rim and clanged out. 

Between all that, Tatum was getting to the rim whether on a straight-line drive or a spin move along the baseline for a dunk.

It was the kind of performance that, minus the missed free throw, was the kind of game Boston wanted and going forward, will need from the rookie who for most of this season did not play like a first-year player.

When the season began, Tatum talked about trying to fit in and feel out his teammates to see what he can do to help the team be successful.

With most of the guys he tends to play off of (Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Marcus Smart) dealing with illnesses or injuries, more will be expected of the rookie. 

And whether he’s on the court or not, rest assured Irving will continue to remind Tatum of just how important it is for him to play with a heightened level of aggressiveness.

“I’m here to remind him of that throughout the game, throughout the season,” Irving said. “Just take advantage of the opportunities he’s afforded out there offensively. He can make a huge impact. He’s aware of that. As a developing young player, the best thing he can do is continue to learn how to be consistent. That’s a trait you have to develop over time. I think he’s doing a great job of learning on the fly.”

Here are five other below-the-radar storylines to keep an eye on tonight as the Celtics look to be back on a winning track at Orlando:

This has been arguably the best season the Celtics have had under fifth-year coach Brad Stevens and a big part of that has been the team’s ability to win on the road. Boston comes in with a 23-9 road record, which is tops in the East and trails only Houston (27-8) and Golden State (25-9) in the NBA.

Boston has been a different team shooting the ball since the All-Star break, with only three teams (Golden State, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Denver Nuggets) shooting better from the break than the Celtics who have connected on 48.7 percent of their shots from the field. And they face an Orlando team that has struggled in several areas since the break, especially defensively. Opponents are shooting 48.1 percent against the Magic since the break, which ranks 24th in the NBA in field goal percentage defense.

The book is still out on Orlando Magic rookie Jonathan Isaac, selected with the sixth overall pick in last June. Injuries have limited him to just 23 games this season. And as it turns out, injuries have led to Orlando inserting him in the starting lineup the past four games. For the season he has averaged 4.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

Injuries have forced the Celtics to play a scrappier brand of basketball. And the upside to that has been noticeably improved play when it comes to creating second-chance scoring opportunities. In fact, Boston is tops in the NBA this month, averaging a league-best 16.8 second-chance points per game.

Al Horford is often criticized for not scoring more points. But that has certainly not been the case this season after Horford has missed a game or two. The first game back from an illness or injury has seemingly brought out the best in Horford as a scorer. In those initial games back to the floor (he has had four of them this year), Horford has averaged 17.5 points while shooting 58.3 percent from the field and 58.3 percent (7-for-12) from 3-point range.