Celtics

Pierce: 'I'm day-to-day'

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Pierce: 'I'm day-to-day'

BOSTON It's a new season for the Boston Celtics, but a key player being in day-to-day mode?

Yeah, we've been there, done that.

This time it's Paul Pierce, who acknowledged prior to Boston's 106-104 loss to New York on Christmas Day that there's no time frame for when his right heel will be healthy enough for him to resume playing.

Pierce said an MRI taken recently revealed that he's suffering from a bone bruise, one of the more unpredictable injuries in terms of healing.

It's the kind of injury from which Pierce can bounce back in days, or the pain could be so severe that he may be out for weeks.

"I don't see it being a month or two," Pierce said of his injury. "Right now, I'm day-to-day."

The Celtics started Sasha Pavlovic in place of Pierce on Sunday, and had Marquis Daniels coming off the bench.

It was a rough night for Pavlovic, whose only point scored was one for the Knicks -- he was whistled for a technical foul that resulted in one of Carmelo Anthony's game-high 37 points.

"This is my ninth year in the league," Pavlovic reminded the media, even though at times on Sunday he looked like a rookie who had never faced Anthony. "He's just a tough player; he's tough to stop. He's gonna get his points. All we gotta do is make it hard as possible for him."

Without question, handling Anthony would not have been nearly as difficult if Pierce were healthy enough to play.

But don't tell coach Doc Rivers, who was quick to shut down any talk about Sunday's loss being about the Celtics not having Pierce.

"Listen, Paul didn't play. We don't worry about that," Rivers said. "We don't talk about guys who are injured. The Knicks beat us; they beat us with what we had. No excuses."

There's no telling if Pierce would have been able to play if it weren't so early in the season. But it's clear the C's understand that even with a tight schedule, there's no benefit in bringing a player back -- especially one of Pierce's caliber -- back too soon from an injury.

"The key for us," Pierce said, "is being healthy when it's time to be healthy. That's the biggest issue surrounding us over the past two or three years. Regardless of the start, regardless of the playoff seed. We'd like to be the number-one seed and have home-court advantage. But the most important thing for this team is to be healthy."

Which is why as disappointing as it was to lose the opener to the Knicks, the Celtics would be even more down if they had won the game and Pierce had re-aggravated the heel and was sidelined even longer.

And when you talk about Pierce, few players in franchise history have been as good on Christmas Day.

In fact, Pierce has averaged 21.7 points in his three Christmas Day games, more than any player in franchise history.

"Everybody understands how competitive I am, especially on a stage like this, Madison Square Garden, Christmas Day," Pierce said.

Well aware of the risk of further injuring the heel, "It just wouldn't be worth it (to have played on Sunday), to have a setback."

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

BOSTON – When Brad Stevens took the Boston Celtics job in 2013, he knew what he was getting into.
 
Yes, the Celtics at that time were rebuilding which usually means years and years of slow but steady progress – if you’re lucky.
 
And then after maybe a few years of struggling to win games, a breakout season occurs and just like that – you’re back in the playoffs.

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 But here’s the thing with the Celtics.
 
While most rebuilding teams spend years working their way towards being competitive, Stevens hit the ground running and in just four years, he led the Celtics from being a 25-win team to one that was just three wins away from getting to the NBA Finals.
 
He has the kind of basketball resume that’s impressive on many levels.
 
But Stevens knows good isn’t good enough in this town.
 
“We’re here in Boston,” he said. “Winning is good, but hanging one of those (banners) up is what it’s all about. That’s what makes this such a special franchise.”
 
And for Stevens, a franchise where the expectations for success under his watch have never been greater than they are now.
 
Boston only returns one starter (Al Horford) from last year’s squad which advanced to the Eastern Conference finals after having won an East-best 53 games.
 
However, they added a pair of All-Stars in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to join Horford. In addition, they drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft.
 
Boston also has a slimmed-down Marcus Smart (he lost 20 pounds from a year ago) as well Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier who will both benefit from having another NBA season under their belts.
 
And while it’s a small sample size and consists of just two teams (Philadelphia and Charlotte), the Celtics breezed their way through the preseason with a flawless 4-0 record which included at least one game in which they did not play their usual starters which shows how impactful their depth may be this season.
 
That success can only help, especially with a challenging schedule that includes seven of their first 11 games being on the road. 
 
Still, the potential of this Celtics team has never been greater than it is right now since Stevens took over in 2013.
 
And just like the increased expectations of the team, the same can be said for Stevens who is considered one of the better coaches in the NBA.
 
Marcus Morris will begin his first season with the Celtics, but had a lot of respect for Stevens well before he was traded to Boston from Detroit this summer.
 
“You hear a lot of good things about him from other players,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “And once you get in here and start working with him and seeing what he does every day, you see what they’re talking about. He’s a good coach, man.”
 
This team’s success will hinge on how the players perform, but there’s an added element of pressure on Stevens to find the right combinations that will position the Celtics for success.
 
“We have a lot more guys who can do a lot more things on the court, so it will be a little more challenging for us to figure out how to best play with each other, and for Brad to figure out which combinations are the best ones,” Boston’s Al Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “But we’ll figure it out. Brad’s a really good coach, a really smart coach. And on our team, we have a lot of players who are smart, high basketball I.Q. guys. We’ll be OK.”
 
Basketball smarts aside, the Celtics’ success will hinge heavily on how quickly they can bring a roster with 10 new players up to speed quickly.
 
It’s still early, but players like what they’ve seen from the collective body in terms of team chemistry.
 
“I think that’s the beauty of a lot of guys on the team,” said Gordon Hayward. “It’ll be different each night with some of the different roles we play.”
 
Which is why the Celtics, while lacking experience as a team because of so many new faces, are still seen as capable of winning because they have a number of players who can impact the game in many ways.
 
But as good as they are, it still comes back to Stevens doing a good job of putting them in the best positions to find success individually as well as for the Celtics team.
 
When you look at how time with Stevens jumpstarted Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder’s careers, or how it helped revitalize the career of Evan Turner, it’s obvious that he has the Midas touch when it comes to getting the most out of players.
 
For Boston to have the kind of success they believe they are due for, it’s going to take the contributions of many.
 
And even that might not be enough.
 
But having the path being bumpier than expected is something Stevens embraces.
 
“Here in this league,” he said. “You have to love challenges.”

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Smart 'not worried' about lack of contract extension with Celtics

Smart 'not worried' about lack of contract extension with Celtics

CLEVELAND – For the third year in a row, a first-round pick of the Boston Celtics is unable to come to terms on a contract extension prior to the deadline.

That means Marcus Smart will become a restricted free agent this summer. Last year it was Kelly Olynyk (now with the Miami Heat) and in 2015 it was Jared Sullinger (now with Shenzhen Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association).

Both the Celtics and Smart's camp intensified their discussions in recent days as the October 16th 6 p.m. EST deadline drew near.

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While there was progress made, there wasn’t enough to get a deal done.

Smart has repeatedly indicated that he wants to re-sign a long-term deal to stay in Boston.

And the market for the 6-foot-4 guard became clearer based on the contracts that some of his fellow rookie class of 2014, were receiving.

Denver’s Gary Harris agreed to a four-year, $84 million contract after establishing himself as one of the better young two-way talents in the NBA last season. And at the other end of the financial spectrum, you would have to look at Phoenix’s T.J. Warren who signed a four-year, $50 million contract.

More than likely, Smart’s deal next summer will fall somewhere between the deals those two players received.

As much as Smart would have preferred to get a deal done heading into the season, it’s not something that he’s going to cause him to lose any sleep.

“Get it done now, or get it done in six months, I’m OK either way,” he told NBC Sports Boston. “I’m not worried about it.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE