MRI negative for Krstic, positive for Celts


MRI negative for Krstic, positive for Celts

By A. Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON It could have been worse - a lot worse.

Saturday's MRI results on Nenad Krstic's right knee came back negative, which means the 7-foot center's injury isn't nearly as serious as first feared.

Krstic suffered the injury in the second quarter of Boston's 107-97 win at San Antonio on Thursday. He came down awkwardly while running down the court, and was unable to return to action.

In fact, the Celtics have not ruled out him returning to action as early as Tuesday's game against Philadelphia.

Krstic has what team officials classify as a bone bruise on his right knee, and are listing him as day-to-day.

As far as when he'll return to action, that has yet to be determined.

When it comes to establishing a return date, bone bruises rank among the toughest injuries to get a read on.

Earlier this season, Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum had an MRI on his left knee that revealed a bone bruise.

The injury sidelined him for one game.

A couple years ago, former NBA guard Chucky Atkins also suffered a bone bruise injury that kept him sidelined for 14 games.

Krstic's injury becomes just the latest footnote to a season in which Boston's depth at the center position has been tested in ways no one saw coming.

It all began with Kendrick Perkins, now with Oklahoma City, suffering a torn ACL and PCL injury in Game Six of the NBA Finals last June.

With him out of action, the Celtics made a point of bolstering their frontcourt depth this past summer with the addition of Jermaine O'Neal, Shaquille O"Neal and rookie center Semih Erden.

Injuries limited both O'Neals all season, and Boston traded Perkins to the Thunder and Erden to the Cavs last month.

Jermaine O'Neal is back playing, but he's still a ways off from being able to contribute at a level him and the Celtics know they will need come playoff time.

In his first two games since returning from left knee surgery, O'Neal has been a solid contributor both as a rebounder and a defender - the two things he did well prior to getting hurt.

As for Krstic, his play has been up and down since coming to Boston, along with Jeff Green.

In his first nine games with the Celtics, he averaged 12.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting 59.7 percent from the field. Since then, he has cooled off considerably.

In Boston's last 10 games, he's averaging just 6.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

While Krstic's strength has been his ability to stretch defenses with his shooting touch, the C's are more consumed by helping him catch on to the Celtic's way of doing things defensively.

During a recent game, he missed a defensive rotation and Doc Rivers gave him a serious tongue-lashing.

It wasn't because of the missed shot, but because Krstic allowed the missed shot to affect his concentration defensively.

"I told him at halftime, that's selfish to me," Rivers said. "That's thinking about your poor lay, instead of helping the team win. He's not trying to be selfish. He wants to do right so bad, that at times it takes him out of playing well."

That won't be an issue in the coming days, which Krstic will spend on the sidelines trying to get his body back into shape in order to contribute.

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

A. Sherrod Blakely’s Starting 5: Unmasking the NBA’s best

A. Sherrod Blakely’s Starting 5: Unmasking the NBA’s best

BOSTON –  The NBA has seen its share of early-season injuries, some resulting in guys out for the season (Gordon Hayward) while others missing just a couple games (Al Horford out two games with a concussion).



And then there’s Kyrie Irving, who suffered a facial fracture that kept him for one game. He was supposed to wear a plastic protective mask for a couple weeks. Instead, it lasted one game and part of another before Irving decided to ditch it.
Kyrie’s mask got me to thinking … who are the best masked men in the NBA?
Today's Starting Five will include the top 5 masked men in the annals of NBA history, in addition to the top 5 teams, MVP candidates, rookies and defenders:

1. Rip Hamilton, Detroit – Worn initially for protection, his mask became an iconic look for the three-time All-star.

2. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers – Mask worn in 2012, the last year Bryant appeared in the playoffs.

3. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City – He looked and played like a superhero in his first game with a mask in 2015, tallying 49 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in a win over Philly.

4. LeBron James – Ever the fashion-forward one, James wore a black, carbon-fiber mask to protect his broken nose in 2014.

5. Kyrie Irving - He played with a mask for 19 games in 2013, averaging 24.5 points and 47.5 percent from the field and 39.8 percent from 3-point range.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee – The addition of Eric Bledsoe has helped rack up some wins, strengthen Antetokounmpo’s chances atop the MVP leaderboard.

2. Kevin Durant, Golden State – Shooting better than 50 percent from the field, Durant has stepped his passing game (career-high 5.0 assists now) up this season while continuing to pile up the wins.

3. James Harden, Houston – Not having Chris Paul around most of this season and still winning, is a reminder of how Harden has played at a consistently high level against all comers.

4. LeBron James, Cleveland – Three straight wins and the Cavs are well on their way to getting back into the thick of things, with LeBron leading the way.

5. Al Horford, Boston – In his last three games, he’s shooting 76.6 percent and has been a central figure in Boston’s rise to the top of the NBA standings.

1. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia - He has eight double-doubles and a pair of triple-doubles to his credit this season. He’s the rookie everyone is chasing now.

2. Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas - You have to watch this guy play. Would be getting a lot more pub if the Mavs had a better record.

3. Jayson Tatum, Boston - Had a rough start against the Warriors, but bounced back and made key plays down the stretch helping Boston get the win.

4. Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers - The late first-round pick has been an absolute Godsend to the Lakers, able to contribute in a multiple of ways.

5. Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers - He has been up and down like most rookies. But his court vision alone will keep him on the floor for many years to come.

1. Al Horford, Boston - He’s the best defender on the NBA’s best team defensively. It makes sense for Horford to be the pace-setter in this category.

2. Rudy Gobert, Utah - A towering presence, this 7-foot-2 big man will once again be a top-3 finisher when it comes to the league’s highest defensive honor.

3. Draymond Green, Golden State - The reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Green is the rare player who can defend all five positions at a fairly high level.
4.  Andre Roberson, Oklahoma City - His ability to defend guards as well as switch out defensively is a huge plus to the Thunder.
5. Aron Baynes, Boston - You will be hard-pressed to find anyone who utilizes the NBA’s rule of verticality  better than Baynes.

1. Boston – Winning 14 games, that’s one thing. But to beat Golden State along the journey? That’s special.

2. Golden State – Loss to Boston be damned, the Warriors are still the team everyone emulates … even now.

3. Houston – Can score with the best of them, but until they defend at a high level their success will remain limited primarily to the regular season.

4. Minnesota – It’s still early, but it’s hard to imagine the Timberwolves going anywhere but up the Western Conference standings.

5. Detroit – Outside of Boston, there may not be a bigger surprise in the NBA thus far than Detroit.

Sam Amick talks Kyrie Irving, Celtics streak and his interview with Isaiah Thomas

Sam Amick talks Kyrie Irving, Celtics streak and his interview with Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics beat the Warriors Thursday night at TD Garden for their 14th straight win, and A. Sherrod Blakely and Kyle Draper talk about the remarkable victory. USA Today NBA Insider Sam Amick joins to talk about the streak, and Brian Scalabrine is joined by Brad Stevens.

The Rundown:

(2:55) Sherrod and Kyle break down Thursday's comeback over Golden State, and whether the victory signals that the C's are the clear-cut favorites in the East. (7:20) Jaylen Brown had a big game in the face of adversity, and always seems to step up in big moments. (9:25) Scal declared the Celtics defense as "for real" on Postgame Live, Sherrod and Drapes discuss this further.

During the Sam Amick interview (10:45), we discuss how everyone, including Kyrie Irving, is buying into the Celtics defensive mindset and (11:50) the national perspective on his trade demand this summer and start to the season. (15:40) Amick weighs-in on whether Steve Kerr was accurate in labeling Boston as the clear team of the future in the East. (18:45) Amick had a long interview this week on USA Today Sports with former guard Isaiah Thomas, who is dreaming about facing his former team in the conference finals. Finally, Amick talks about the best case scenario for the Celtics come April if Gordon Hayward is able to return.

Brian Scalabrine catches up with Brad Stevens (26:20) to talk about not having the new Big 3 for more than 5 minutes together this year, and how continuity is key.