Celtics-Knicks preview: Jerebko looking to build off strong performance

Celtics-Knicks preview: Jerebko looking to build off strong performance

When it came to figuring out who the Celtics starting five would be this season, Jonas Jerebko’s name was nowhere in the conversation despite being with the first unit for the Celtics’ last four games in the playoffs.

And when breaking down the key contributors to their second unit, once again there wasn’t much love for the Swedish Bird.

But it seems whenever Jerebko gets decent minutes, he delivers a better-than-decent performance.

That was exactly what happened in Boston’s 100-97 preseason win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Jerebko will be looking to build off that strong performance tonight when the Celtics take on the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Against the Nets, Jerebko had 12 points while shooting 3-for-4 from 3-point range. He also grabbed five rebounds in addition to chipping in with three assists.

It was the kind of performance that doesn’t wow you, but is essential to winning games on nights when the team as a whole doesn’t play well.

For Jerebko, that game was indicative of how things have been since he became a Boston Celtic.

While his role may appear to be undefined to most, Jerebko knows exactly what he’s supposed to do when he gets on the floor.

“Whatever it takes to win,” he told CSNNE.com recently. “Score, rebound, defend, pass, cheer from the sidelines, whatever I have to do to help us win, that’s what I want to do.”

That being said, he makes it absolutely clear that he believes playing is the best way he can contribute.

“But all of us here and in the NBA really, feel that way,” he said. “The thing is, you just have to make the most of the time you get and not look back or look too far ahead.”

He’s speaking about staying in the moment, a common thought for most of the Celtics’ backups.

Boston currently has a roster with 16 players with guaranteed contracts and a 17th player, second-round Ben Bentil, with a partially guaranteed deal that’s worth more than what most training camp invites receive.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens plans to start the season with a pool of 10 players that would constitute the rotation, although the players near the end of that grouping might change from one game to the next.

It is unclear where Jerebko fits into that 10-man platoon system that Stevens has in mind, but Jerebko’s past performances and the most recent one, serve as a reminder that he’s a player who could play a key role off the bench this season in certain circumstances.

Jerebko says he has no idea how his minutes will play out this season, other than knowing that at some point he will get a chance to show what he can do.

“And when the time comes to play, I’ll be ready,” he said. “We have a lot of really good players on this team, so naturally we all want to play. When my turn comes, I’ll be ready; I know this and so do the coaches.”

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

When is a setback not a setback?

When Danny Ainge says, "You know what? Sometimes I talk too much," Ainge told the Boston Herald over the weekend. "'Setback' wasn't the right word, so let me rephrase that because it's not exactly true to say it - or say it that way.

The Celtics president of basketball operations, in his weekly radio interview with Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub and simulcast on NBC Sports Boston, used that word when he was describing how Gordon Hayward is coming along in his recovery. 

"He had like one setback for a couple of weeks, maybe a month and a half ago," Ainge said on the radio last week. "We were progressing a little bit too fast, we thought."

Ainge clarified that to the Herald's Steve Bulpett. 

"What happened is he went on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill] the first day and he felt some soreness," he said. "It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn't ready for it at that point. That's all it was."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been adamant that Hayward, recovering from his gruesome leg and ankle injury in the season opener, will not play for the Celtics this season. On Sunday, Stevens, via MassLive.com's Jay King, characterized Stevens' soreness as a "small" issue. 



Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

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Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

CLEVELAND - Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence from the team to address health issues that have included chest pains and loss of sleep.

Lue said Monday in a statement that tests have offered no conclusion about what the issue is and offered no timetable for his return. The coach said he feels he needs to step away "and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation" from which to coach the rest of the season.

Here's a portion of Lue's statement:

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

"While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season," Lue said. "My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the championship we are all working towards."

A stress-filled season for the Cavs has taken a toll on the Lue, 40, a former Celtics assistant under Doc Rivers who led them to the 2016 NBA championship after taking over for David Blatt midway through that season. They are j40-29, third in the Eastern Conference, behind the second-place Celtics and East-leading Toronto Raptors, and have endured roster shake-ups, injuries and other distractions as they try to return to the NBA Finals.

David Aldridge of TNT reports that the plan is for Lue to return in a week. The NBA playoffs begin April 14. 

"We all want great players, we all want the best teams, but with that comes a lot of pressure as well. And what Ty Lue has had to go through this year with that team, with the trades and the injuries and the pressure, it's unrelenting," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "So I hope that he gets healthy and is able to get back in time for the playoffs and help that team win as many games as possible."

Lue spent the second half of Cleveland's victory in Chicago on Saturday in the locker room because of an illness, the second time this season he left a game because he wasn't feeling well. The former NBA guard also sat one out against Chicago at home in December.

Associate head coach Larry Drew coached the second half of Saturday's game, the finale of a six-game, 11-day road trip. Cleveland is back home to host Milwaukee on Monday.

"We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues," general manager Koby Altman said.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford also left his team to address his health this season. He took six weeks off. Medical tests revealed that the 56-year-old Clifford did not have any internal problems, but the doctor's diagnosis was the coach was suffering from severe sleep deprivation.

AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.

© 2018 by The Associated Press