Celtics

Shelvin Mack ready if Celtics call

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Shelvin Mack ready if Celtics call

Shelvin Mack knows how to stay ready.

The Maine Red Claws guard has not received a call from the undermanned Boston Celtics, but if he does, he will be prepared to take his game back to the NBA.

Mack could be an option to fill an open roster spot following the season-ending ACL injuries suffered by Rajon Rondo just over two weeks ago and Leandro Barbosa on Monday. He leads the Celtics NBA Development League affiliate in scoring this season (19.6 ppg) and is also averaging 7.6 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game.

Mack was in Texas on Tuesday evening with the Red Claws to take on the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. While aware of the Celtics backcourt vacancies, he was focused on doing the best he could in his current situation just hours before tip off.

"I feel like it would be a great opportunity," Mack said of the Celtics, adding, "(I haven't been given any indication from the Celtics), I try not to worry about that. That's another thing I've learned throughout this process, just worry about the things you can control. I can't control how they're thinking, All I can control is just going out and playing basketball, trying to be a great basketball player and a great teammate."

At 22 years old, Mack already has NBA experience. He was selected by the Washington Wizards with the 34th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and appeared in 64 games for them last season. He posted 3.6 points, 2.0 assists, and 1.4 rebounds in 12.2 minutes backing up John Wall.

The Wizards invited Mack to training camp this season, and although they waived him in October, they called him up from the Red Claws in December. After Mack returned to Maine in early January, the Philadelphia 76ers called him up twice. He believes there is a place for him in the pros.

"The NBA is all about finding the right situation and the right fit for you," Mack told CSNNE.com in a telephone interview. "Some guys get lucky and are able to find that early, and some guys it kind of takes a while. The D-League was the best opportunity I had. If I felt like I wasn't an NBA player, I wouldn't have three call ups so far this year, I wouldn't be on the radar for the Celtics. It's just finding the right situation that's best for you. ... With the right situation and the right team, I'll be able to show how valuable I really am."

Mack is familiar with the Celtics system through playing for the Red Claws. He embraces their fundamentals and values their team-first mentality.

"The biggest thing I know with the system is, it's not about individual stats. It's all about championships and competing at a high level," he said. "I'm a big fan of defense. Everyone can score points but a lot of things come down to effort and being able to play defense."

Mack also already knows several of the Celtics players. He has worked out with Jeff Green in Washington, D.C., played alongside Fab Melo on the Red Claws, and known Jared Sullinger for years through basketball camps. His closest friend on the team is fellow Kentucky native Rajon Rondo, who has helped him during his journey to the league.

"We work out a little bit together and he's a real good friend," Mack explained. "He tries to help me out with my game and fill me in on the process and the business."

6-foot-3 Mack compares his game to that of Chauncey Billups -- "real calm, cool, a solid basketball player that understands how to win," he explained. As a three-year member of the Butler Bulldogs, he appeared in the 2010 and 2011 NCAA National Championship games. He also won a gold medal as captain of the USA U19 World Championship in 2009.

"I'm a guy (people) can depend on who's going to come in and compete and play hard," he said. "I will do whatever you can to help the team win."

If the Celtics were to call, Mack would embrace the opportunity just as he has with the Wizards and 76ers -- "It'd be another blessing," he said. For now, though, his role is to help the Red Claws succeed in the D-League. He knows losing sight of that goal won't help him attain the bigger picture of making it in the NBA.

"I've been kind of going through this process all year," he said. "I'm just worrying about the things you can control. I see a lot of guys every year that look at message boards and read what's on the Internet and it affects their game. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen. If not, I've just got to stay ready and keep grinding."

Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

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Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

PHILADELPHIA – For the third time in as many games, the Boston Celtics will field a different lineup.

It will have a domino effect on Boston’s usual starters, but no one more than Al Horford who will slide over to power forward with Aron Baynes inserted into the starting lineup where he’ll be charged with trying to defend Sixers 7-footer Joel Embiid.

Meanwhile, Horford will be assigned to defend Robert Covington who is one of Philadelphia’s better perimeter scorers.

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“I feel like one of my strengths is being able to play multiple positions,” Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “It presents a different challenge for me, which is making sure I do a good job of covering him out on the perimeter, staying between him and the basket.”

In Philadelphia’s 120-115 season-opening loss to Washington, Covington led all Sixers with 29 points which included him going 7-for-11 from 3-point range in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

While Covington will be Horford’s first defensive assignment, he knows he will also be called upon at times to defend Embiid who ranks among the best centers in the NBA despite having played just 32 games over the course of three NBA seasons.

In the loss to the Wizards, Embiid had a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Horford’s defense will be critical for Boston (0-2) to get its first win of the season, but the Celtics will also need him to take advantage of scoring opportunities as well.

“We have some guys down, but that creates opportunities for other guys to step up and contribute,” Horford said. “It’s going to all of us, the veterans, the young players, all of us to get that first win.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens agreed.

“I think that’s how we have to look at it,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have to make a few tweaks on how we do things, obviously. Hey, it’s gonna be something that we’re going to have to do really, really well on the fly.”

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