Celtics

Krstic plays freely in return from injury

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Krstic plays freely in return from injury

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON When players are hurt, the time off the court tends to give them a perspective that they didn't necessarily have earlier.

Need proof?

Look no further than Boston's Nenad Krstic, whose play off the bench was among the many reasons Boston was able to pull away for a 99-82 win over Philadelphia.

The Celtics (54-23) got eight points and six rebounds from Krstic, who came off the bench for the first time since being traded to Boston on Feb. 24.

More significant than the games played, was the two games he did not play in after suffering a bone bruise in his right knee against San Antonio last week.

Prior to the injury, Krstic was playing some of his worst basketball since becoming a Celtic.

Too often he would be out of position defensively.

And on offense, he would wait too long around the basket to make a move rather than take it up strong quickly.

"Maybe this is a good thing, missing two games," Krstic said. "Everything settled down in my head a little bit. Just sitting outside, watching the other guys playing. I think it helps."

When Krstic first arrived, he played with little thought on the court.

And the results were surprisingly positive.

But the more he tried to learn the various sets and the way the Celtics go about doing things, the more mistakes crept into his game.

On more than one occasion in recent weeks, Rivers has lit into Krstic for allowing his mistakes on offense to distract him from his job defensively.

But on Tuesday, it was clear that Krstic got back to just playing, and not thinking so much.

"You know what I say: thinking hurts the team," Rivers said. "I just thought he played with instincts. And he's starting to get our stuff a little bit better, too."

That combination gives the Celtics a player that help them in multiple ways.

For Krstic, he admits that the time off has helped him become even more comfortable with his new teammates.

"I got here first couple weeks. I realize I was thinking about making the right play, every play," Krstic said. "It's not going to help; just play basketball. Even if I make a mistake, Rivers is going to yell at me for five seconds. Just next play."

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

WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

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

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

The Boston Celtics remain a team whose collective talents are far more valuable than their individual abilities.

But there are going to be nights when someone has to shoulder a larger burden of the team in order to win. More often than not, that “one” will likely be No. 11, Kyrie Irving. 

We saw in Dallas what can happen when Irving feels he has little choice but to put the team on his back and carry them to victory. 

The Celtics were desperate for a spark against the Mavericks and found it in Irving, who scored 47 points in leading the Celtics to a come-from-behind 110-102 overtime win. 

It remains to be seen if the Celtics will require a similar Herculean effort tonight when they take the Miami Heat with a chance to extend their winning streak to 17 straight. 

This team isn’t one to dwell on success in the past, even if the past was just 24 hours ago. But there’s no getting around how what happened on Monday night might impact what we see against the Heat. 

Boston expended a tremendous amount of energy in rallying from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter at Dallas, the kind of effort that may be difficult to replicate against a Miami team that you can count on to play hard from the opening tip to the final horn. 

Irving’s performance was one of the rare instances this season when Boston clearly could not have won without their top scorer having a big game. 

“When we needed it most, he made big shot after big shot,” said Al Horford. “He had such good rhythm, I was thinking, ‘just let him keep it going.’ He just kept being aggressive, taking really good shots. He recognized he needed to be extra aggressive, especially at the end and score the ball for us.”

Scoring could potentially be at a premium against Miami which allows 102.5 points per game which ranks ninth in the league in fewest points allowed. Also, the Heat will test Boston’s perimeter defenders. Miami comes into tonight’s game averaging 11.1 made 3-pointers per game which ranks ninth in the NBA. 

The Heat are led by Goran Dragic who is averaging team highs in scoring (18.3 points) and assists (4.7) this season. 

These two squared off earlier this season in Miami with the Celtics coming away with a 96-90 win as Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum led the way with 24 and 20 points, respectively. In that game, the Heat were without starting center Hassan Whiteside, who will be in the lineup tonight as the Heat try to bounce back after losing three of its last four games.

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