Horford to return to Celtics lineup vs. Warriors

Horford to return to Celtics lineup vs. Warriors

SAN FRANCISCO – It wasn’t all bad news on the health front for the Boston Celtics who will welcome Al Horford back to the lineup for Saturday’s game against Golden State. 

“He didn’t say anything to me about not feeling good,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Went through practice, looked good. Went through a hard workout yesterday, no complaints after that. We’ll see how it goes from there.”

MORE - Irving shuts down reports of knee surgery threats

Horford was held out of Boston’s 113-102 win over the Los Angeles Clippers after suffering a head injury against the Los Angeles Lakers the night before. 

The 6-foot-10 Horford went through a battery of tests to determine if he had suffered a concussion, but those results were negative. 

Boston’s medical staff still felt Horford should not have played against the Clippers, concerned that concussion-like symptoms might pop up afterwards. 

“I feel good; much better,” said Horford who has missed games each of the last two seasons due to experiencing concussion-like symptoms. “I didn’t have anything. I didn’t have a concussion, just trying to be … the team was trying to protect me due to the history of everything. I’m just happy to be able to go through workouts, be fine.”

Having Horford back will certainly help the Celtics who will need all available talent if they are to pull off a season sweep of the Warriors.

Marcus Smart will miss the next two weeks after suffering a laceration to his right (shooting) hand when he cut it on a picture frame in Los Angeles shortly before Boston’s 113-102 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Smart, who did not play in that game, flew back to Boston to have addition tests performed to determine the extent of his injury.  After the examination, it was determined Smart would be out for about two weeks.


Kyrie tells ESPN his move to Boston 'trying at times, but well worth it'

Kyrie tells ESPN his move to Boston 'trying at times, but well worth it'

Kyrie Irving opened up - a little bit - in an ESPN interview with Rachel Nichols in which he reflected on his move to Boston and his upcoming movie, "Uncle Drew". 

Irving was asked how he would assess the changes in his career since leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers after requesting a trade this summer that led to the deal with the Celtics.

"Been a lot of newness, honestly," Irving said. "It's an adjustment in itself. Being with a totally different group of guys, trying to bridge that gap with our group and trying to be my best self with our group. It's been awesome. Trying at times, but well worth it."

With the Celtics in the thick of the race for the best record in the Eastern Conference, Irving said he's pleased with how it has worked out. 

"It was a big chance," Irving said, then jokingly added, "Babe Ruth said it, he swings big, may not miss big, may hit a home run, who knows?

"I'm glad I took a chance on what I wanted to do within my career."

The conversation quickly shifted to Irving's feature-length acting debut in the movie "Uncle Drew" which comes to theaters this summer. Irving said he's always had an interest in acting and has had his teammates poke fun at him when he listed his favorite music as songs from the musical "Rent".

Still, the ultimate goal is raising another championship banner in Boston and raising the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

"It's something I think about every day," Irving said. "I think about it every day."


Brad Stevens looks to revitalize reeling Celtics

Brad Stevens looks to revitalize reeling Celtics

WALTHAM, Mass. – When he wasn’t hanging out with the Boston Red Sox during spring training, Brad Stevens was marinating over tweaks that the Boston Celtics need to make in the final 23 games of the regular season.

This reassessment is vital to the team’s success going forward, which makes a lot of sense considering how Boston limped into the all-star break losing three straight and four of five.

“I told the guys any time they come up short you have to evaluate, you have to learn …”

And the lesson Stevens learned going into the break?

“Our defense, it was just, it wasn’t good the last five games obviously,” he said. “Whether it’s a small sample size, whatever the case may be it just wasn’t good and I thought against the Clippers especially, it was as bad as I’ve seen. So that was a red flag.”

The return of Marcus Smart will certainly help, but Stevens knows having Smart back won’t be the one-stop elixir to all that ails his team currently.

“We just need everybody to play to their best ability,” Stevens said. “I mean, we had good games without him defensively but there’s no doubt he’s one of our best defenders.”

Smart has been one of the top on-the-ball defenders this season and has done so even while playing major minutes.

He has a defensive rating of 98.9 which is tops among all NBA players who average at least 30 minutes played per game.

And while it remains to be seen how Boston will incorporate Smart back into the regular rotation, he’s coming back with the kind of focus and motivation that should bode well for Boston’s chances of getting back on a winning track.

“I’m a competitor and I think everybody in this league, any athlete will tell you when you gotta sit on the bench, it’s one thing to sit on the bench because for something that happened you can’t control,” Smart said. “But it’s another for something you can control. I feel like I let my team down.”

Smart suffered a right hand laceration injury on Jan. 24 when he punched a picture that caused a series of cuts that required 20 stitches to close.

When speaking to the media on Wednesday night, Smart said a piece of glass came close to a pair of tendons that had the glass in his hand been an inch or so in either direction, it could have cause significant damage and likely season-ending surgery.

Having Smart back after an 11-game absence will certainly result in Stevens changing his player combinations up.

But there’s likely to be more changes than just the re-insertion of Smart into the mix.

“We’ll definitely rotate a little bit differently,” Stevens said. “I don’t know if that means changes in the starting lineup but we definitely will have some changes; certainly it will be night-to-night but tweaks from when guys enter the game.”