Celtics

Celtics-Pacers preview: Boost from the bench

Celtics-Pacers preview: Boost from the bench

BOSTON – Having led the Orlando Magic by as many as 32 points on Friday, Brad Stevens turned to his bench a bit earlier than usual.
 
And when they had problems early in the fourth, he stuck with them for the most part in what turned into a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score might indicate.

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That extra time on the bench for Boston’s core guys could come in handy tonight as the Celtics hit the road to face an Indiana Pacers team that’s playing some of its best basketball of the season.
 
The Pacers (11-8) have won five in a row, the second-longest winning streak in the East behind Cleveland's seven in a row.
 
While the scoring numbers haven’t been to the Celtics’ liking, their bench has been a positive factor in the team’s success.
 
Getting those guys more minutes in the Orlando game while resting his starters, was a win-win for the Celtics (17-3).
 
Stevens acknowledged going to the bench for most of the fourth quarter not only helps them leading into tonight’s game but also in what has been a challenging stretch of play lately.
 
Tonight will be Boston’s 10th game in 19 nights, the kind of stretch that will challenge any player or team to be at the top of their game.
 
And while Boston hasn’t played its best basketball at times, the Celtics have still managed to find ways to consistently win.
 
Several factors have contributed to Boston’s struggles at times, including a second unit that has not developed a consistent or reliable scorer.
 
Terry Rozier hopes to be that player, and certainly took a step in the right direction with a career-high 23 points in the win over the Magic on Friday.
 
“Offensively, as a team, we’ve been struggling,” Rozier said. “Especially, definitely the bench.”
 
That’s why Friday’s win was so vital; not only to add one more win to the team total but to also do it with the bench contributing 50 points.
 
“It feels good to get points as a unit,” Rozier said.
 
Indeed, it’s not a coincidence that the Celtics’ best scoring night of the season came on a night when the bench had its best scoring output of the season.
 
But tonight’s second unit for Boston will look a little different.
 
Marcus Morris, who still plays with minutes restriction, is also being held out from playing in back-to-back games. Morris, who missed the first eight games of the season with left knee soreness, did not make the trip to Indiana.
 
Boston may also be without Jaylen Brown.
 
He is attending the funeral today of his best friend Trevin Steede who will be buried in Marietta, Georgia. Brown said he will try and make it to Indiana in time for tonight’s game but has been given permission by the Celtics to miss the game.

“My intention is to make it back,” Brown said following the win over Orlando. “If I can, I’ll definitely be playing [against the Pacers]. But we’ll see.”
 

Horford out, Irving probable for Wednesday's game vs Nuggets

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Horford out, Irving probable for Wednesday's game vs Nuggets

BOSTON – The days of playing short-handed continue for the Boston Celtics who will be without at least one all-star when they host the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. 

The Celtics announced on Tuesday that Al Horford (rest) will not play. A knee collision with Detroit’s Anthony Tolliver on Sunday made Horford a game-time decision prior to Boston’s 108-85 loss at Chicago on Monday. Horford played but like most of his teammates, didn’t play as well as he would have liked before finishing with 15 points, four rebounds and five assists which included him missing all four of his 3-point attempts. 

Kyrie Irving is probable with a quad injury that kept him out of the Bulls loss. 

Marcus Morris (left knee) will miss his third straight game (14th this season) and remains out indefinitely. Also, Gordon Hayward (left ankle fracture) remains out although he may get some good news tomorrow.

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Hayward may ditch the boot for good on Wednesday

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Hayward may ditch the boot for good on Wednesday

BOSTON -- The timetable for Gordon Hayward’s return to the court hasn’t changed as far as the Celtics are concerned. 
 
But try telling that to Hayward, who may be out of his walking boot for good very soon -- like tomorrow soon. 
 
C's coach Brad Stevens gave an update on Hayward’s status in an interview with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski for Krzyzewski’s SiriusXM show, “Basketball & Beyond with Coach K,” which will air Thursday at 6 p.m. ET (SiriusXM channel 84).
 
“He’s going to the doctor [Wednesday] to potentially get out of his walking boot for good, which he’s jacked about,” Stevens said.
 
Stevens and Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, have reiterated how aggressive Hayward has been in attacking his rehab since suffering a dislocated left ankle injury in the season opener at Cleveland on October 17. 
 
“He is literally in the weight room as we speak,” Stevens said. “Does all the training table [work], just like our guys. Has his own shooting time even when he was in a boot, sitting in a chair. He had his own shooting time and had his own lifting time, just like all our players do before practice.”
 
From the very outset, Stevens and the Celtics have made keeping Hayward as involved as possible a priority.
  
But Stevens is quick to caution that while Hayward is making good progress, the Celtics are still proceeding forward as though they will not have him back until next season.

“His status is, the way that we’ve looked at it the whole time is, we don’t expect him back this year,” Stevens said. “But he shoots for all of his goals, week to week, day to day, to try to expedite it as much as he can. He obviously wants to be back, like any athlete, as soon as he can.”
 
Hayward signed a four-year, $127.8 million contract with the Celtics this summer after spending his first seven NBA seasons with the Utah Jazz. Boston was awarded an $8.4 million disabled player exception for Hayward's injury, the largest DPE ever. Boston was awarded the exception in part because independent doctors determined that it’s “likely” that Hayward will not be able to return prior to June 15.
 
However, Boston will still keep the DPE until it expires (March 10, 2018) even if Hayward returns sooner than expected. 
 

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