Celtics

Krstic 'grateful' to join the Celtics

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Krstic 'grateful' to join the Celtics

By RichLevine
CSNNE.com

LOS ANGELES Hes the lesser known part of the Celtics massive trade deadline move, but seven-foot Serbain center Nenad Krstic is still just as eager to get started on his Boston Celtics career, and more than thankful for the opportunity hell have for the rest of the season with Cs.

Im really grateful to be part of the Boston Celtics, Krstic said on Saturday after the teams morning shoot around at UCLA. I was shocked for like three days. I didnt expect any trades. This is the first time in my life Ive been traded, so Im still in a little shock but Im very happy to be here to be with this team and this organization.

Krstic wont have the luxury to remain in shock much longer, though. With Shaquille ONeal and Jermaine ONeal still recovering from injury, and Semih Erden now with the Cavaliers, Krstic is the Celtics lone healthy center, and until Shaq returns sometime in the next week or so, hell serve as the Celtics starting center. Eventually, his role will figure more prominently with the second unit, but until then, Krstic is ready for whatever Doc Rivers asks him to do.

I didnt even talk to the coach about that yet, Krstic said about his role. This is the first time Ive met all these guys. Whatever my role is, Im great with that. I dont really care about he minutes or anything because Im really happy to be here.

While he hasnt had much time with Rivers, Krstic does have a history with another Celtics coach. He played for four years in New Jersey under then head coach Lawrence Frank, who now serves as Bostons assistant. Krstic believes that time with Frank will be important as he adjusts to life in Green.

It helps a lot, he said of Frank. I played with him four years in Jersey and we really had a good time there. Hes really going to help me a lot.

What will also help him is the invaluable experience of his All-Star teammates. Obviously, hes yet to spend much time with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, but after one practice, Krstic is already excited about all that the other Celtics have to offer.

It was amazing, he said. Those guys are all All -Stars. Theyve been in the league so many years, and theyre just trying to help me with the offensive sets. Defensively too, and its great. Im looking forward to playing with these. Im really happy. This is just my first impression but this is going to be fun.

But he also knows that in Boston, unlike any other situation hes been in during his career, that fun can only be had if they win the title. And while, especially coming off an upstart situation in Oklahoma City, that might take some adjustment, Krstic is ecstatic over the opportunity to play with so much on the line.

This is my first time with a team like this, he said, where they want to win right now. Its going to be a great experience, just to learn so much from these guys. Hopefully were going to win the championship and Ill go back to Serbia with a ring.

RichLevine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Mavericks in Dallas. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Mavericks preview: C's need to play Smart vs. Dallas

Celtics-Mavericks preview: C's need to play Smart vs. Dallas

Get it done. No excuses.
 
That has been how the Boston Celtics have played most of this season.
 
And if there’s one Celtics player who embodies that on this team, it’s Marcus Smart.
 
The fourth-year guard has struggled all season with his shot-making, but when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter you can count on Smart to be on the floor.

THE WINNING STREAK

He has been among the many reasons Boston has won 15 in a row, which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
 
And Smart will be among the Celtics looking to keep it going tonight against the Dallas Mavericks.
 
Most likely, Smart will make an impact with his defense, which is among the best in the NBA.

How good?
 
Smart has a defensive rating of 93.4 (points allowed per 100 possessions) which is tops among all guards in the NBA, and ranks third among all players who have played in at least 10 games this season.
 
But in the 110-99 win over the Hawks, Smart knocked down a couple of 3-pointers which was a big deal considering how mightily he has struggled shooting the ball this season.
 
Smart is shooting 27.3 percent from the field as well as from 3-point range – both career lows.
 
However, he’s also averaging career highs in assists (4.5) and rebounds (5.1) this season.
 
And while he certainly doesn’t appear to be affected by the shooting struggles, he acknowledges that it is something that he can’t help but think about from time to time.
 
“It does affect you, especially if you’ve been working (on shooting) all summer,” Smart said. “At the same time, I don’t take as many shots. But like I said, we got other guys who are playing well. My job is to get them the ball and do whatever I can, go back down the floor, play defense and get the ball again.”

In Boston’s win over Atlanta, Smart spent a good amount of time defending Marco Belinelli who had four points on 2-for-10 shooting compared to 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting when these two teams met earlier this month.
 
Coach Brad Stevens pointed to the job Smart did on Belinelli, in addition to the clutch offensive rebound he was able to snag and quickly put back up and in that gave Boston a 103-95 game with about two minutes to play.
 
“He was really good,” Stevens said.
 
The same could be said for most of the Celtics of late.
 
Kyrie Irving is coming off his most efficient game of the season, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting from the field. Jayson Tatum had a rough start, but he came on strong as well with 14 points – all coming in the second half.
 
But the backbone of Boston’s success lies in what they’re able to get done defensively.
 
So far, Boston’s defense has been as strong as we’ve seen this early, in quite some time.
 
Boston, which has a league-best defensive rating of 95.9, has length, savvy and an overall total buy-in by the players on what Brad Stevens is looking for, from them.
 
Meanwhile, the Mavericks (3-14) are coming off their most impressive victory this season, a 111-79 win over Milwaukee.  Dennis Smith Jr. has been among the more talented rookies this season. He’s averaging 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Dallas is indeed in a transition period where longtime superstar Dirk Nowitzki (10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds per game) is gradually passing the torch to his younger teammates like Harrison Barnes (18.7 points, 7.1 rebounds) and Smith Jr.
 
Much like the Hawks game, the Celtics must approach this game with a focus on the opponent and not their record.
 
Because the Celtics are no longer just a good team on the schedule. They are a measuring stick for most to see how they stack up against the league’s best.
 
And the Celtics understand how their success has changed how teams see them.
 
“Now that we have a reputation, I think everyone is coming for us,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Now we have to come play even harder, and I think we can do that. I think we are more than capable.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE