Celtics shake off the rust after long layoff


Celtics shake off the rust after long layoff

By A.Sherrod Blakely

WALTHAM A couple days off does the body good, especially when that body has logged as many miles as most of these Boston Celtics players.

But having not done anything basketball-related as a team since Sunday, does have its downside.

Additional time to heal up some of the many bumps and bruises will definitely benefit the Celtics. But there is some concern that they won't be in a good rhythm when the second round of the playoffs begin Sunday in Miami.

"This is a cobweb day, get all the cobwebs out," said forward Glen Davis. "We've been chillin' for a couple days, getting a lot of rest; get our rhythm back together with each other."

Having so much time off in between playoff series is relatively foreign to most of the Celtics.

It isn't to starting center Jermaine O'Neal, who recalls in 2004 being part of an Indiana Pacers team that swept the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

"We put them away so fast, we ended up having a week, almost two weeks off," said O'Neal, whose Indiana team that season went on to the Eastern Conference finals and lost to eventual NBA champion Detroit Pistons. "Sometimes you just have to watch a lot of film, kind of remind yourself what you should do and when you get back in practice, be as competitive as possible."

For O'Neal, the days off have helped his sore left wrist heal without having to worry about re-aggravating it in practice or a game.

"It feels good," O'Neal said of the injury. "I'm just going to protect it. I wear a brace. I'm kind of superstitious now. I even wear the brace at home when I don't even need it. You just want to be healthy going into the next round and not have any hiccups."

One Celtics player whose health remains a mystery is Shaquille O'Neal.

Coach Doc Rivers was asked if Shaq, who will not practice on Wednesday or Thursday, had suffered a setback to the right triceps surae complex injury to his right calf and Achilles.

"No, not at all," Rivers told CSNNE.com. "He's actually had a very good week. He's still improving, but when the medical staff says he's ready, he's ready."

With Shaq unable to practice, it has meant more time with the first unit for Jermaine O'Neal, whose defensive presence was among the contributing factors to the Celtics sweeping the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.

"He's been a godsend," Rivers said of J. O'Neal. "I could not have asked for anything better."

Between now and Game 1 of the C's second-round series, Rivers will continue to implement nuances to their various offensive and defensive sets, in addition to fine-tuning what they already do well.

Rivers said having this time off without a definitive game to play, is similar to what they have to do during training camp.

"When you start training camp, you don't really have an opponent," Rivers said. "Really just trying to work on all your stuff. We have the opportunity to do that, with rest. So that's good."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

For Celtics, comebacks build confidence


For Celtics, comebacks build confidence

BOSTON -- There’s no team in the NBA that seems to like a good comeback as much as the Boston Celtics.
They come into tonight’s game against Philadelphia having rallied from a double-digit deficit to earn a victory nine times -- more than any other team this season.
It certainly provides them with a realistic boost of confidence that no deficit is too steep.  Repeatedly rallying to win after falling behind by large margins has created an unspoken confidence among the Celtics that how they start games doesn’t matter as long as they finish off playing the right way.

I asked Jayson Tatum about whether the Celtics have become too comfortable with digging themselves early deficits only to go on a tear and pull off a comeback win.
“Probably subconsciously we do,” Tatum said. “But we have to get away from that.”
Here are five other story lines to follow heading into tonight’s game between Boston and Philadelphia.


Boston’s inability to come back from a large deficit and beat New Orleans wasn’t the only oddity about Tuesday’s loss. It was one of the few games this season when Jayson Tatum didn’t really look to score when on the floor. He had 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting to go with five rebounds, which isn’t a bad night. And while it’s always good to be an efficient scorer, him taking so few shot attempts has to be the exception rather than the rule most nights in order for Boston to be successful. This season the Celtics are 17-4 when he takes 10 or more shots, 17-7 when his shot attempt numbers are in the single digits.


The last time these two met, Boston’s Marcus Morris and Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons had issues when Simmons set a really hard foul on Morris, a Philadelphia native, who immediately rose to his feet and pushed Simmons. Since then, Simmons had another on-court bruhaha with another Philly native, Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors.  Simmons suspects guys are coming after him with a little extra something because he’s a rookie.

"I don't know if they're trying to test me or see how I am on the court, but I won't play around," Simmons said after the Sixers’ win over Toronto.

Morris called the foul Simmons committed against him last week in London a cheap shot.

 “But it’s all right,” Morris told reporters at the time. “I take a lot of cheap shots, too. It’s good to see Philly got some . . . tougher guys. I promise you that won’t happen again. It is what it is.”


Tatum has been among the league’s most consistent scorers among the rookie class. He leads all first-year players with 38 games of scoring in double digits. Simmons, arguably the front-runner for the league’s Rookie of the Year award, has 35 double-digit scoring games which trails Tatum and Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen (36).


The NBA recently released the top-selling NBA jerseys for the fourth quarter (Oct. 2017 – Dec. 2017) of 2017. Tonight’s game features a trio of players who ranked among the top 15. Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid came in at No. 6, while fellow Sixer Ben Simmons had the eighth-highest selling jersey. For Boston, Kyrie Irving’s No. 11 jersey came in at No. 12.


With J.J. Redick (leg injury) out, look for Bayless’ role to increase significantly tonight. The former Celtic is averaging 8.5 points per game this season. But in three games against Boston, he has risen his scoring to 10.3 points per game while shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from 3-point range.




WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers


WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics host the 76ers at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview:  Sweeping Sixers will depend on containing Joel Embiid

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]