It's been all about the ball movement for Celtics

It's been all about the ball movement for Celtics

BOSTON – Ball movement has been one of those things that the Celtics are conscious of being vital to their success.

But swinging the ball to get open shots while not turning it over may sound easy enough, but it isn’t.

But since the All-Star break, Boston’s ability to get great shots while limiting mistakes has been a key component to the team’s three-game, post-break winning streak

And Boston’s success in this particular phase of play can be seen in their high assists-to-turnover ratio since returning from the break.

The Celtics have a 2:53 assist-to-turnover ratio since returning from the break which is second in the NBA only to San Antonio (2:94).

As we have seen throughout this season, the Celtics have been a team evolving in some form or another and the team’s assists numbers since the break, appear to be the latest part of their growth.

Despite the impressive numbers since the break, Boston has been a middle-of-the-pack team when it comes to assist-to-turnover numbers.

For the season, Boston’s 1:62 assist-to-turnover ratio ranks 15th in the league.

There will be a number of factors that will come into play tonight against the Charlotte Hornets, but Boston’s ability to continue spreading the basketball wealth - while limiting mistakes - will indeed be a factor in the outcome.

Here are five under-the-radar storylines to keep an eye on as the Celtics face the surging Hornets, who come in having won in a row:


Terry Rozier got a taste of major minutes when he filled in for Kyrie Irving, and the third-year guard continues to play well. Before making his first NBA start on Jan. 31, Rozier averaged 9.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting 39 percent from the field and 35.3 percent from 3-point range. In the 11 games since then, Rozier has averaged 15.7 points, 5.1 assists and 4.2 assists while shooting 41.4 percent from the field and 46.8 percent on 3’s.


With Daniel Theis (right hamstring) out tonight, the Celtics will have to do more than replace his 5.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. The logical choice to get a lion’s share of Theis’ minutes (more than 19 per game this month), is Greg Monroe. Monroe, the newest member of the Celtics roster after agreeing to a buyout with Phoenix, has appeared in six games thus far while averaging 5.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 13.7 minutes per game.


Before he punched a picture frame that sidelined him for 11 games, Marcus Smart was playing defense at an elite level. Since his return, he remains just as steady. Smart has a defensive rating of 99.1 which is tops in the NBA among players who have appeared in at least 30 games and averages at least 30 minutes played per contest.


If Boston expects to win tonight, they need to brace themselves for a Hornets team that has played well in the first quarter. Since coming back from the break, Charlotte has averaged 31.5 points in the first which ranks fourth in the NBA. The Celtics come in at No. 19, with a 26.3 points per game average in the first quarter since coming back from the break. But the Hornets have shown that they can also defend at a high level to start games, evident by them having a league-best +6.0 point differential in the first quarter since returning from the break. Boston has a +1.0 point differential in the first which ranks 15th in the NBA.


Boston’s ability to hold its own on the glass has been among the key contributing factors to the team’s strong play after the break. Since returning to the floor following the break, Boston has a rebounding percentage of .523 which ranks ninth in the NBA. Charlotte will certainly challenge them in this area because they too have been solid in this phase of play. The Hornets come into tonight’s game 12th in the league in rebounding percentage (.517).


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

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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