Celtics

Celtics Question of the Day: Did C's improve more in frontcourt or backcourt?

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Celtics Question of the Day: Did C's improve more in frontcourt or backcourt?

The Boston Celtics added lots of talent across the board with between their guards and some much-needed size.

But where did the C's improve the most, on the perimeter or in the frontcourt?

While there's clearly more sizzle with the talent Boston added in the backcourt, there's no question the substance of the Celtics' frontcourt has been significantly upgraded.

Consider this: The Celtics went into the playoffs last season with rookie Greg Stiemsma along with Ryan Hollins and Sean Williams as their backup centers.

Fast forward to this season's squad. Even if you take away Boston's top two big men off the bench -- Chris Wilcox and, most likely, Jarred Sullinger -- that still leaves the C's with Darko Milicic, Jason Collins and rookie first-round pick Fab Melo.

I know. It doesn't exactly wow me, either. But considering what the Celtics had to work with during the playoffs last season, there's little doubt that this year's trio of backup big men behind the backups is better.

For all of Milicic's shortcomings as a player, he has proven to be a solid shot-blocker. He averaged two blocked shots per game during the 2010-2011 season, which ranked fifth in the NBA.

Jason Collins has the size and strength to be an asset against some of the league's more powerful centers like Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers and Andrew Bynum of the Philadelphia 76ers.

While Melo is very much a work in progress, his greatest quality while in college at Syracuse University was his defense and shot-blocking.

The key additions Boston made in the backcourt were Jason Terry and Courtney Lee.

Lee will start with Avery Bradley (shoulder), who's not expected back at the start of the season, and Terry will reprise his reserve role in Dallas as a high-impact sixth man off the C's bench.

Having both around will soften the blow of not having Bradley at the start of the season. In addition, they will also help fill the gaping hole left behind when Ray Allen decided to sign with the Miami Heat this summer.

As important as guard play will be to Boston's success, having enough frontcourt depth will be vital to Boston having the kind of postseason they envision.

In the C's seven-game series loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, Boston was plus-1 on the boards in their three wins. And in their four losses, the Celtics were out-rebounded by 30.

A big part of those struggles on the boards had to do with the C's having to go deeper into its frontcourt pool than intended.

But this season, the Celtics have addressed that clear area of weakness. Boston not only has enough bigs to compete. The Celtics now have enough bigs -- behind their primary bigs -- to make a legitimate charge at the only thing this franchise cares about: Banner 18.

Stevens says Hayward’s ‘spirits were pretty positive’ after surgery

Stevens says Hayward’s ‘spirits were pretty positive’ after surgery

PHILADELPHIA – Thursday was a travel day for the Celtics, but part of the day for Brad Stevens was spent visiting with Gordon Hayward, who underwent successful left ankle surgery that’s expected to keep him out for the rest of the season.
 
“He’s obviously post-surgery, having some of the post-surgery challenges of pain and everything else,” Stevens said. “The surgery went great. His spirits were pretty positive.”

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He is, all things considered, in a very good place.
 
Stevens and the Celtics plan to do all they can to keep Hayward there as he now finds himself in the early stages of rehabilitation.
 
“We talked a little about how to approach the next five months, with maintaining that positivity in different ways to stay engaged, different ways to approach this, to attack this. He was ready to get started with his rehab the minute he got out of surgery.”
 
Eager to help, Stevens reached out to good friend Frank Vogel.
 
Vogel, who now coaches the Orlando Magic, was the coach of the Indiana Pacers when Paul George went down with a season-ending knee injury while playing for Team USA in 2014.

“It’s really important to just be active, to be as active as you can,” Stevens said. “I called Frank Vogel, the day we drove to the gym to play Milwaukee, just asked him what are some of the things Paul did in his year off that you would encourage? What are some of the things that we should look at?”
 
Among the tips he received was to work with Hayward on form shooting while sitting in a chair.
 
“Hey, he’s gonna be the best guy shooting out of a chair with his left hand, right hand, perfect his form,” Stevens said of Hayward. “Let’s have fun, let’s come up with creative ways to attack this.”

With injuries to both ankles, Smart unlikely to play tonight

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With injuries to both ankles, Smart unlikely to play tonight

PHILADELPHIA – Things have only gotten worse for the Celtics on the injury front.
 
Marcus Smart, who replaced an injured Gordon Hayward (left ankle) in the Celtics’ starting lineup, is now unlikely to suit up for tonight’s game against Philadelphia.

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Smart, whose left ankle was heavily wrapped prior to Boston’s shoot-around this morning, said he rolled both ankles in the 108-100 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he had not made a decision on who would replace Smart in the Celtics’ starting lineup tonight.
 
“We’ll do some work all day and pre-game and make a final determination,” Stevens said.
 
More to come …