Celtics legends spend time with current C's before being honored

Celtics legends spend time with current C's before being honored

BOSTON - When it comes to tradition, the Boston Celtics are richer than arguably any team in the NBA.

You can go back 30, 40, or even 50-plus years and see how successful the organization has been.

And in fact, the Celtics are doing just that, honoring members of the 1965-66, 1975-76, and 1985-86 teams this season - and tonight, specifically, at halftime. (By the way, Rich Levine has done a hell of a job looking back at the 1985-86 season.)

The organization held an event on Tuesday honoring those players as well, and that's why many of them are in town for tonight's game. Players like Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Tommy Heinsohn Dave Cowens, Paul Silas, Kevin McHale, Chris Ford, and many, many more players, coaches, and executives were all celebrated and recognized at a celebratory dinner at the Liberty Hotel up the street from the TD Garden in Boston.

And some of them spent time at the Celtics' practice facility in Waltham yesterday as well, bridging a gap of more than 50 years of basketball.

"A good number of those guys were at practice yesterday and so our guys know [about the Celtics tradition]," Brad Stevens said. "And our guys are well aware of how lucky we all are to be a part of this organization. They all walk over and spend time and pick their brains and just enjoyed being in the presence of those guys. Certainly, nobody enjoys it more than I do and I’m still in awe of the fact that some of the people that will be here tonight, those are people that, when you think of basketball, those are the names that are associated with basketball. It’s pretty impressive."

Evan Turner, somebody who Stevens has said on multiple occasions just simply loves the game, was one of those players who really took advantage of the legends being at practice.

"That was cool. It was definitely cool," Turner said. "You never take that for granted. Even as a kid, I heard a lot about those guys and to be able to see them in person, they feel the need -- to be important enough to not only come back in to town, but also visit us is definitely cool. I definitely appreciate that.

Turner spent time with Celtics and NBA legend John Havlicek, an eight-time NBA champion, and like Turner, an Ohio State Buckeye. He also spoke with Charles Scott, a member of the 1975-76 Celtics championship team. Turner played with Scott's son, Shannon, at Ohio State.

"I always loved Hondo," Turner said. "Just watching his highlights and stuff like that, I just thought he was a great player and at the Ohio State he was a big deal."

The 2015-16 Celtics have been a fun bunch to watch, and perhaps being around so many winners can rub off on them as they ready for what they hope is a long playoff run.

And who knows, maybe it'll be long enough that Turner will be back in Boston 30 years from now for his own team's celebration.

Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Kyrie Irving could be back on the court in time for the Celtics to begin the playoffs.

Or not.

Irving will have what the Celts are describing as a "minimally invasive procedure" on his injured left knee Saturday. NBC Sports Boston talked to Dr. Christopher Chihlas from Southcoast Health -- who has not examined Irving but is familiar with his type of injury -- about how long Irving may be sidelined.

"A minimally invasive procedure is basically an arthroscopy," said Dr. Chihlas. "His return to play is mostly dependent on what is done . . . If it's just a cleanout, as we're being told, then -- best-case scenario -- we could see him back playing in three to four weeks."

But, he added, "it could be double that . . . depending upon what exactly is found . . . 

"The key here is the patella fracture (which Irving suffered during the 2015 playoffs). My feeling is that he's suffering a bit of the consequence of the patella fracture, which is a fracture into the knee joint . . . [He] may need to have this done periodically to get him through the rest of his career."


Terry Rozier's rise should continue without Kyrie Irving

AP Photo

Terry Rozier's rise should continue without Kyrie Irving

When it comes to Western Conference powers, the casual NBA fan will immediately think of the defending champion Golden State Warriors, or the Houston Rockets who loom as their biggest threat. 

And then there’s the next-best team in the West, Portland, which has been sneaky good this season with very little fanfare. 

Boston will see first-hand just how talented the Blazers are when these two square off tonight.

Portland’s improved play of late (they’ve won 13 of their last 14 games) is fueled in large part by them taking more 3-pointers. 

Prior to Jan. 1, the Blazers averaged 24.6 three-point attempts which ranked 26th in the NBA. Since then, they have increased their 3-point attempt average to 30.5 which ranks 12th in the league.

Couple that with a defense that has been among the league’s best most of this season, and voila! – you’ve got a team that’s playing great basketball at just the right time. 

But the Celtics on many levels, while undermanned because of injuries, are still an elite team defensively.

And the one area where Boston has been strong all season, is defending the three-point shot.

Opponents are shooting a league-low 34.1 percent against Boston from 3-point range this season.

And while Boston’s defense isn’t the same when you’re talking about not having a Marcus Smart in the lineup, the Celtics are still a formidable foe at that end of the floor. 

In Boston’s last four games, all without Smart, Boston’s defensive rating is 98.8 which is good for the fourth-best in the NBA in that time period. 

“We’ve been a next man up kind of team all season,” Boston’s Semi Ojeleye told NBC Sports Boston. “That’s why it’s important to always stay ready. Because you know at some point on this team, you’re number’s going to be called and you’ll get your opportunity.”

Here are five under-the-radar story lines as the Boston Celtics seek to continue their strong play this season against Western Conference foes, at Portland. 



Terry Rozier has been a different kind of player ever since he got his first start a few weeks ago filling in for Kyrie Irving. The third-year guard has scored in double figures 20 straight games, a career first for him. In that span he has averaged 15.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 41.9 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from 3-point range.


If tonight’s game plays out as expected, points will be at a premium. Boston has the league’s top-ranked defense (101.2) even as its defensive rating has slipped to No. 5 in the league (103.1) since the all-star break. Meanwhile, the Blazers have the seventh-best defensive rating (104.3) this season, but are third (101.0) in the NBA since the all-star break.


You will be hard-pressed to find a player who wouldn’t mind a little rest with the playoffs less than a month away. But are a couple days without games too much rest? It certainly looks that way for the Celtics who are 4-6 this season with two or more days of rest before a game. The Portland Trail Blazers are at the opposite end of the success spectrum with a 10-3 record when they’ve had two days of rest before a game. 


Both Boston and Portland have been among the NBA’s better defensive rebounding teams all season. But they have each stepped up their defensive rebounding play this month. Portland, the fourth-best defensive rebounding team this season, have grabbed a league-best 83.2 percent in March while the Celtics, the sixth-best defensive rebounding team this season, are up to No. 3 (80.6 percent) this month.


Jayson Tatum is nearing the end of one of the best rookie seasons by a Boston Celtic ever, well on his way to statistically cementing himself as one of the franchise’s best first-year players ever. The 6-foot-8 forward is 35 points shy of tallying 1,000 points which would make him the ninth rookie ever to do so for Boston, with the last to do so being Ron Mercer during the 1997-1998 season.