Celtics

Celtics-Clippers preview: Rolling with adversity

992093.jpg

Celtics-Clippers preview: Rolling with adversity

BOSTON Adversity seems to be the "in" thing these days around the NBA because it looks like nobody can quite have enough of it.

The Celtics are no exception.

Just days after learning that Rajon Rondo (torn right ACL) was out for the season, he was soon joined by teammate Jared Sullinger whose lumbar disc surgery puts him on the bench for the rest of the 2012-2013 season as well.

And as tough as times might seem for the C's now, they face a Clippers team that's going to play with a similar sense of purpose because they too have been playing without their All-Star point guard, Chris Paul.

He suffered a bruised knee injury on Jan. 12 and has appeared in two games since. Team officials are listing him as a game-time decision for this afternoon's tilt in Boston.

The same holds true for Jamal Crawford who suffered a broken nose in the fourth quarter of the Clippers' loss at Toronto on Friday.

But with injuries comes opportunity for someone to step up and fill the void.

We have seen the best of Courtney Lee who has been a double digit scorer when Rondo doesn't play.

"Hes doing great," Rivers said of Lee. "Im asking a lot of him. He started the (Orlando) game bringing the ball up at point, then hes guarding J.J. Redick, and then at one point he was at the three."

Said Lee: "The production is coming from everybody, as opposed to you know, Rondo. He's our playmaker, he's racked up a lot of assists with his playmaking ability. Now we have to move the ball and make sure we are in the right spots to execute the offense.

For the Clippers, Eric Bledsoe continues to make a strong case for being the best backup point guard in the NBA this season. Naturally minutes behind a healthy Chris Paul will be limited, but that hasn't stopped Bledsoe from averaging nine points while racking up a whopping 78 steals this season which is tops among all players with fewer than 21 minutes played per game this season.

Playing without key guys will indeed be one of the many challenges facing both teams today.

Here are some other keys to today's game as the C's look to avenge a 106-77 blowout loss in Los Angeles on Dec. 27.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Scoring is going to be a challenge for both teams when you consider they are each among the top-10 scoring defenses in the NBA. The C's will look to get out in transition and score a few easy buckets, but the Clippers' size, depth and athleticism will make those times few and far between.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs DeAndre Jordan. Garnett's length often gives him an edge. But that won't be the case against Jordan. KG's effectiveness will come down to his footwork to create enough space to shoot, and his court vision in finding teammates or as he has done often, making the "hockey assist" in which his pass leads to the pass that becomes an assist.

PLAYER TO WATCH: With 118 dunks to his credit this season, it's hard to take your eyes off of Blake Griffin when he's on the floor or even in the air. You can count on him to have a couple jams at some point today.

STAT TO TRACK: Paul Pierce comes into today's game with three straight games of at least 10 rebounds. A double-digit rebounding game today would be just the second time in Pierce's career that he has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in four straight games. The first time was Nov. 16-23, 2002.

Agent doesn't expect Gordon Hayward to return this season, but foresees full recovery

celtics_gordon_hayward_100617.jpg

Agent doesn't expect Gordon Hayward to return this season, but foresees full recovery

PHILADELPHIA --  Only hours removed from surgery to repair a dislocated left ankle and fractured fibia injury, Gordon Hayward’s agent tells NBC Sports Boston that his client is already attacking the rehab process.
 
“We expect him to have a full recovery,” agent Mark Bartelstein said via phone Thursday.
 
That said, Bartelstein also noted that it’s unlikely that the 6-foot-8 forward will return to action this season.
 
“We don’t have a timetable or anything like that for him,” Bartelstein said. “It’s about getting better, healthier every day.”
 
The Celtics released a statement Thursday afternoon indicating Hayward underwent successful “bony and ligamentous stabilization surgery for the fracture dislocation of his left ankle.”
 
Performing the surgery was Drs. Mark Slovenkai and Brian McKeon at New England Baptist Hospital, with Dr. Anthony Schena assisting followed by consultations with Dr. David Porter of Methodist Sports Medicine in Indianapolis.
 
Hayward suffered the injury in the first quarter of Boston’s 102-99 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday when he was attempting to catch a lob pass from Kyrie Irving.
 
On the play, Hayward landed awkwardly on his ankle, which contorted in a way where it was clear immediately that he would be out of action for a significant amount of time.
 
Since the injury, Hayward has received an amazing amount of outpouring of well-wishes and prayers from Kobe Bryant, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and a cast of other current and former athletes. Both Edelman and Gronkowski know all too well about the challenges associated with returning to play after an injury.
 
"Go into rehab just like you go into anything else: dominate it," Gronkowski said. "Come back when you feel ready. Come back when you’re 100 percent. He wouldn’t be where he is now if he wasn’t a hard worker.”
 
And then there are the Celtics fans, whose support has been impressive.
 
Hayward delivered a pre-recorded message to the fans at the TD Garden that was aired on the Jumbotron high above half court prior to Wednesday night’s game against Milwaukee. Even after the video ended, there was no escaping Hayward’s presence was still very much in the building and on the minds of fans.
 
At one point in the 108-100 Celtics loss on Wednesday, Boston fans began a “Gor-don Hay-ward!” chant that soon swept its way throughout the TD Garden.
 
“It has been a bit overwhelming the amount of support that Gordon has received,” Bartelstein said. “It touched him in so many ways. The outpouring he got, certainly all the fans in the arena last night, from players around the league … it meant the world to him. And obviously, going through something like this, it’s devastating. So, to see so many reach out to him, it means the world to him and his family; there’s no doubt about it.”