Noel makes the most of minutes vs. hometown Celtics

Noel makes the most of minutes vs. hometown Celtics

BOSTON – This was not Nerlens Noel’s first trip back home to play in front of family and friends who make the twice-a-year pilgrimage to see the Everett, Mass. native play against the Boston Celtics.

There have been rumors about him potentially returning for a longer stay – via trade to Boston – for months.


Noel spoke out angrily after playing just eight minutes against the Los Angeles Lakers, but cooler heads have prevailed since then in large part because his biggest complaint – playing time – doesn’t seem to be as big an issue anymore.

Noel certainly made the most of his time on the floor Friday night, but it wasn’t enough to knock off his hometown team the Boston Celtics who prevailed with a 110-106 victory over the Sixers.

The 6-foot-10 forward certainly did his part to help the Sixers’ cause, scoring 13 points off the bench on 6-for-8 shooting with eight rebounds and three blocked shots.

It was his second-highest scoring game this season, one in which injuries have limited him to having appeared in just nine games.

“When I get out there I’m going to play my game,” Noel said. “I’m going to play at a high level. I’ve been able to stay mentally focused throughout this whole process, not let it affect my game. As time goes along, I’ll continue to keep progressing in the right way.”

Sixers head coach Brett Brown acknowledged that one of the biggest challenges he has faced this season is developing a rotation for the team’s glut of big men which includes Noel, Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Dario Saric.

In Boston’s win over Philadelphia on Thursday, Okafor did not play (coaches decision).

“There’s a body of work now that is enough to make some assumptions, some decisions in a more reasonable way,” Brown said. “It’s not like we all just met each other. We’ve been doing this for a while. The great challenge is sometimes pairings aren’t as successful as you wish they were. What does that mean? The ripple effects when you put people in different positions trickles down to other positions.  You’re trying to walk this line of development and finding wins; trying to find ways to compete.”

As challenging as it has been for Brown, dealing with it has required a level of patience that Noel admits has tested him.

“It’s been challenging,” he said. “But it’s trials and tribulations; you have to go through this in order to get to where you want to be. It’s been a long process the last three, four years. I’ve stayed with it and kept working on my game and try to make strides. I’ve done that but I still got some ways to. I really have to worry about what I can control.”

And despite all the rumors about being traded potentially to Boston, there’s absolutely nothing he can do about that one way or another.

“No matter what I’m still the same player,” Noel said. “Nobody can change me if I’m playing eight (minutes) or 38. I’m gonna go out and do my thing. Always have the mentality that I’m going to assert myself in any kind of situation. Time goes on and things take care of itself.”

Report: Celtics to sign Kilpatrick to 10-day contract

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Report: Celtics to sign Kilpatrick to 10-day contract

The depleted Celtics will sign guard Sean Kilpatrick to a 10-day contract, according to The Boston Herald's Mark Murphy.

Kilpatrick, 28, 6-4, 210 pounds, who played at the University of Cincinnati, most recently played for the Clippers this season and has spent time with the Bucks and Brooklyn Nets the past two seasons. 

With their spate of injuries lately, including Kyrie Irving undergoing a procedure on his knee Saturday, the Celtics have been granted a "hardship roster exemption" by the NBA. 


Report: Optimism that Kyrie will be back for playoffs

Report: Optimism that Kyrie will be back for playoffs

There's optimism that Kyrie Irving will be able to return to the Celtics sometime during the playoffs, according to multiple reports. 

The Celtics said their All-Star guard should be able to return to "basketball activities in 3-6 weeks." That doesn't necessarily mean games. The NBA playoffs begin April 14 and the conference finals as early as May 13.

The team released the following statement: 

Celtics guard Kyrie Irving today underwent a minimally-invasive procedure to remove a tension wire in his left knee. The wire was originally placed as part of the surgical repair of a fractured patella sustained during the 2015 NBA Finals. While removal of the wire should relieve irritation it was causing in Irving’s patellar tendon, the fractured patella has fully healed and Irving’s knee has been found to be completely structurally sound. Irving is expected to return to basketball activities in 3-6 weeks.

Irving underwent the procedure on his left knee to help alleviate the soreness that has kept the Celtics All-Star guard out the past five games. There was a fear that Irving could be lost for the rest of the season, including playoffs. 

Dr. Christopher Chihlas from Southcoast Health had told NBC Sports Boston on Friday that Irving might be able to return in "three to four weeks" in the best-case scenario.

More to come...