Brad Stevens' decision to start Shane Larkin pays off

Brad Stevens' decision to start Shane Larkin pays off

Shane Larkin was anything but an obvious choice for Brad Stevens when it came to pick who would start in place of Kyrie Irving who was out with a sore left knee.

Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier have been the guys to fill in for Irving in the past. And with both playing so well off the Celtics bench, it would have made a lot of sense for Stevens’ pool of possible replacements for Irving was a pool of two.


And while we’ve heard Stevens speak of how he’s confident in any player on the roster, these are the times when Stevens’ words are put to the test.

His decision to go with Larkin worked well for both the player and the team as Boston had no problem beating the Chicago Bulls 105-89.

Larkin, making his first start for the Celtics and first in the NBA since 2016, had nine points on 3-for-3 shooting to go with four rebounds and four assists. 

“I felt good,” Larking told reporters after the game. 

Although Larkin was filling in for the Celtics’ leading scorer, he knew his role wasn’t about replicating what Irving brought to the table. 

Aware that the Celtics have others who can score besides Irving, Larkin was more concerned with his defense and making sure he got his teammates the ball where they could play their game.

“I was trying to get in the lane and let those guys be effective,” Larkin said. “I felt it was a good job today.”

Said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens: “He was great; he was great. We talked about who should start and everything else. When you trust all three of those guys, then it becomes who do you want to play off the bench. He was really good tonight.”

His teammates echoed similar sentiments. 

“It was nice to see him step up to the challenge,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “Shane is a professional, very professional. He stays ready. It was good to see him with that … he brings a lot of energy anytime that he comes on the floor. And tonight we needed it.”

And unlike some games we’ve seen pitting the Celtics against a cellar-dweller, they did not give the Bulls any hope that this game would be anything other than a blowout. 


Larkin, making his first NBA start since 2016, was mindful of how important it would be for the Celtics to get off to a good start. 

Boston did just that as they more than doubled up the Bulls in the first quarter which ended with the Celtics holding a commanding 35-16 lead.

“It was very important for me and the team,” Larkin said. “Last time we were here they jumped on us early. Today, we wanted to make sure we hit them early. On my end, every time I’m out there I’m trying to make positive impact play.”


Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

When is a setback not a setback?

When Danny Ainge says, "You know what? Sometimes I talk too much," Ainge told the Boston Herald over the weekend. "'Setback' wasn't the right word, so let me rephrase that because it's not exactly true to say it - or say it that way.

The Celtics president of basketball operations, in his weekly radio interview with Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub and simulcast on NBC Sports Boston, used that word when he was describing how Gordon Hayward is coming along in his recovery. 

"He had like one setback for a couple of weeks, maybe a month and a half ago," Ainge said on the radio last week. "We were progressing a little bit too fast, we thought."

Ainge clarified that to the Herald's Steve Bulpett. 

"What happened is he went on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill] the first day and he felt some soreness," he said. "It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn't ready for it at that point. That's all it was."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been adamant that Hayward, recovering from his gruesome leg and ankle injury in the season opener, will not play for the Celtics this season. On Sunday, Stevens, via MassLive.com's Jay King, characterized Stevens' soreness as a "small" issue. 



Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

File photo

Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

CLEVELAND - Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence from the team to address health issues that have included chest pains and loss of sleep.

Lue said Monday in a statement that tests have offered no conclusion about what the issue is and offered no timetable for his return. The coach said he feels he needs to step away "and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation" from which to coach the rest of the season.

Here's a portion of Lue's statement:

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

"While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season," Lue said. "My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the championship we are all working towards."

A stress-filled season for the Cavs has taken a toll on the Lue, 40, a former Celtics assistant under Doc Rivers who led them to the 2016 NBA championship after taking over for David Blatt midway through that season. They are j40-29, third in the Eastern Conference, behind the second-place Celtics and East-leading Toronto Raptors, and have endured roster shake-ups, injuries and other distractions as they try to return to the NBA Finals.

David Aldridge of TNT reports that the plan is for Lue to return in a week. The NBA playoffs begin April 14. 

"We all want great players, we all want the best teams, but with that comes a lot of pressure as well. And what Ty Lue has had to go through this year with that team, with the trades and the injuries and the pressure, it's unrelenting," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "So I hope that he gets healthy and is able to get back in time for the playoffs and help that team win as many games as possible."

Lue spent the second half of Cleveland's victory in Chicago on Saturday in the locker room because of an illness, the second time this season he left a game because he wasn't feeling well. The former NBA guard also sat one out against Chicago at home in December.

Associate head coach Larry Drew coached the second half of Saturday's game, the finale of a six-game, 11-day road trip. Cleveland is back home to host Milwaukee on Monday.

"We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues," general manager Koby Altman said.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford also left his team to address his health this season. He took six weeks off. Medical tests revealed that the 56-year-old Clifford did not have any internal problems, but the doctor's diagnosis was the coach was suffering from severe sleep deprivation.

AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.

© 2018 by The Associated Press