Yabusele makes a statement in second Celtics Summer League game

Yabusele makes a statement in second Celtics Summer League game

SALT LAKE CITY – Guerschon Yabusele saw the ball swing his way a lot in the early going of Boston’s 89-82 win over Utah on Tuesday courtesy of social media.

“I got Twitter, too,” said Celtics assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry. “I read it. People say he (Yabusele) didn’t play very well the first game. Part of that is, we didn’t call his number too much. It’s not because of him.”

The 6-foot-8, 270-plus pound forward didn't have to worry about that against Utah. 

Yabusele had a strong night for the Celtics in scoring 13 points to go with a team-high eight rebounds while blocking two shots and coming up with a steal.

It was the kind of performance he will try and build on tonight when the Celtics (2-0) close out their Summer League slate of games in Salt Lake City against the San Antonio Spurs at 7 p.m.

“I’ve seen what he can do, in practice,” Shrewsberry said. “I wanted him to come out and make a little bit of a statement.”

He did just that with solid plays being made at both ends of the floor.

“I just try to play with a lot of energy, make less mistakes,” Yabusele said.

And when the opportunity presents itself, he can make big plays too.

Yabusele’s put-back dunk off a Terry Rozier miss in the fourth quarter was just one of the many effort plays made by the 20-year-old.

The Jazz weren’t the only ones caught off-guard by the big man’s jam became a play that had the entire building buzzing due to being such an athletic play for a player many struggle to envision as someone who plays above the rim.

And then to see the muscular Yabusele flex after the dunk got even more cheers from his teammates.

“After the dunk, I was happy, so excited,” he said.

Rozier added, “it was nice; it was real nice. I (saw) it from the baseline because I was on the floor but it was great. He got hang on the rim a little bit; it was good.”

And while there’s still a chance that Yabusele will play overseas this upcoming season rather than be with the Celtics, he is quickly showing the promise Boston saw in him when they selected him with the 16th overall pick in last month’s NBA draft.

Most draft experts had him being selected near the end of the first round or early into the second.

He has only been around his new teammates for a few weeks, but it’s clear that he’s fitting in and for some players, becoming one of their favorites to play with.

“Man, I love playing with him,” Rozier said of Yabusele. “Since the practice leading up to this … he listens, he’s always there to help rebound. He’s always kicking the ball out; he’s great. He’s aggressive. We need that. He’s going to throw his body around and do whatever he can to help this team win.”

He doesn’t mind mixing it up around the rim, that’s for sure.

But that level of physical play that he brings to the game, isn’t your run-of-the-mill, bull-in-a-china-shop basketball that based on his physique one might not be surprised if in fact that’s how he played.

Like most European bigs, Yabusele relies more on skill than brute strength in order to make an impact. Although he missed all three of his 3-point attempts, Yabusele has the ability to eventually develop into a player that will help Boston with spacing.

But because of Jordan Mickey (shoulder) being out, Yabusele has found himself having to play center a lot more than he would if he were with the Celtics this season.

Boston understands that he’s playing out of position a lot, but there’s a clear positive to take from that experience.

It enables him to expand his game somewhat by providing an opportunity to utilize skills such as his speed which allows him to get up and down the court a lot quicker than most players with his size.

“It was great to see him run the floor,” Rozier said. “I told him, ‘any chance you got to get down the court and nobody down there, I’m looking so try and get down there.’”

And as the game ended and players were walking off the court, Yabusele first did an on-court interview and then signed autographs of fans waiting for him near a tunnel.

“I was very comfortable today,” he told CSNNE.com with a wide-as-the-moon smile on his face. 

Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Kyrie Irving could be back on the court in time for the Celtics to begin the playoffs.

Or not.

Irving will have what the Celts are describing as a "minimally invasive procedure" on his injured left knee Saturday. NBC Sports Boston talked to Dr. Christopher Chihlas from Southcoast Health -- who has not examined Irving but is familiar with his type of injury -- about how long Irving may be sidelined.

"A minimally invasive procedure is basically an arthroscopy," said Dr. Chihlas. "His return to play is mostly dependent on what is done . . . If it's just a cleanout, as we're being told, then -- best-case scenario -- we could see him back playing in three to four weeks."

But, he added, "it could be double that . . . depending upon what exactly is found . . . 

"The key here is the patella fracture (which Irving suffered during the 2015 playoffs). My feeling is that he's suffering a bit of the consequence of the patella fracture, which is a fracture into the knee joint . . . [He] may need to have this done periodically to get him through the rest of his career."


Terry Rozier's rise should continue without Kyrie Irving

AP Photo

Terry Rozier's rise should continue without Kyrie Irving

When it comes to Western Conference powers, the casual NBA fan will immediately think of the defending champion Golden State Warriors, or the Houston Rockets who loom as their biggest threat. 

And then there’s the next-best team in the West, Portland, which has been sneaky good this season with very little fanfare. 

Boston will see first-hand just how talented the Blazers are when these two square off tonight.

Portland’s improved play of late (they’ve won 13 of their last 14 games) is fueled in large part by them taking more 3-pointers. 

Prior to Jan. 1, the Blazers averaged 24.6 three-point attempts which ranked 26th in the NBA. Since then, they have increased their 3-point attempt average to 30.5 which ranks 12th in the league.

Couple that with a defense that has been among the league’s best most of this season, and voila! – you’ve got a team that’s playing great basketball at just the right time. 

But the Celtics on many levels, while undermanned because of injuries, are still an elite team defensively.

And the one area where Boston has been strong all season, is defending the three-point shot.

Opponents are shooting a league-low 34.1 percent against Boston from 3-point range this season.

And while Boston’s defense isn’t the same when you’re talking about not having a Marcus Smart in the lineup, the Celtics are still a formidable foe at that end of the floor. 

In Boston’s last four games, all without Smart, Boston’s defensive rating is 98.8 which is good for the fourth-best in the NBA in that time period. 

“We’ve been a next man up kind of team all season,” Boston’s Semi Ojeleye told NBC Sports Boston. “That’s why it’s important to always stay ready. Because you know at some point on this team, you’re number’s going to be called and you’ll get your opportunity.”

Here are five under-the-radar story lines as the Boston Celtics seek to continue their strong play this season against Western Conference foes, at Portland. 



Terry Rozier has been a different kind of player ever since he got his first start a few weeks ago filling in for Kyrie Irving. The third-year guard has scored in double figures 20 straight games, a career first for him. In that span he has averaged 15.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 41.9 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from 3-point range.


If tonight’s game plays out as expected, points will be at a premium. Boston has the league’s top-ranked defense (101.2) even as its defensive rating has slipped to No. 5 in the league (103.1) since the all-star break. Meanwhile, the Blazers have the seventh-best defensive rating (104.3) this season, but are third (101.0) in the NBA since the all-star break.


You will be hard-pressed to find a player who wouldn’t mind a little rest with the playoffs less than a month away. But are a couple days without games too much rest? It certainly looks that way for the Celtics who are 4-6 this season with two or more days of rest before a game. The Portland Trail Blazers are at the opposite end of the success spectrum with a 10-3 record when they’ve had two days of rest before a game. 


Both Boston and Portland have been among the NBA’s better defensive rebounding teams all season. But they have each stepped up their defensive rebounding play this month. Portland, the fourth-best defensive rebounding team this season, have grabbed a league-best 83.2 percent in March while the Celtics, the sixth-best defensive rebounding team this season, are up to No. 3 (80.6 percent) this month.


Jayson Tatum is nearing the end of one of the best rookie seasons by a Boston Celtic ever, well on his way to statistically cementing himself as one of the franchise’s best first-year players ever. The 6-foot-8 forward is 35 points shy of tallying 1,000 points which would make him the ninth rookie ever to do so for Boston, with the last to do so being Ron Mercer during the 1997-1998 season.