'Next man up' Celtics continue to find ways to win

'Next man up' Celtics continue to find ways to win

BOSTON – Five minutes into the season, the Boston Celtics had little choice but to embrace a “next man up” mentality.

Since then, this approach to the game has been fine-tuned and is now at a point where it doesn’t seemingly matter who is missing from the Celtics lineup.

Short-handed or fully stacked, this team continues to find ways to win, with the latest victory being a 97-90 win over the Dallas Mavericks which came with a pair of key Celtics players out.


Marcus Morris (left knee rehabilitation) did not play after experiencing more soreness than usual, earlier in the day. And Jaylen Brown (right eye inflammation) was out as well, leaving the Celtics extremely thin at the wing position.

Boston went deeper into its bench than usual against the Mavericks, with rookies Guerschon Yabusele and Abdel Nader getting spot duty.

And to their credit, they each contributed with Yabusele draining a 3-pointer while dishing out three assists in six minutes, 35 seconds. And Nader, last year’s D-League (now Gatorade League) Rookie of the year, also hit a 3-pointer along with tallying a steal and a blocked shot while logging seven minutes and one second of playing time.

“They both did a pretty good job,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “And those guys work really hard. I mean, nobody’s in the gym more than Nader. And it’s good to see that first shot go down and … then to make a steal and to make some plays in there. And then Guerschon, I thought, did a good job of kind of playing through him. We need to be able to play through him (Yabusele) in the high post and top of the key, kind of like we do Al (Horford) when he’s in the game, and I thought he did a pretty good job of that.”

During the Celtics’ shoot-around prior to the game, one of the main topics discussed was the importance of all 11 players in uniform, being ready to play and play well.

“We always have to have that 'next man up' mentality,” said Terry Rozier who had 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench. “We’re just covering for one another; we’re a team. We’re pros for a reason. You put in all this hard work, you have to be ready.”

Al Horford was pleased with the Celtics’ backups remaining professional and staying ready when their opportunity to play came.

“Those guys are working harder than pretty much any of us every day, because they’re in the gym getting extra shots, extra conditioning,” said Horford who had 17 points to go with eight rebounds and eight assists. “It’s good to see them get rewarded. I was happy to see our bench guys able to get some minutes.”


Ray Allen among Hall of Fame finalists

Ray Allen among Hall of Fame finalists

Ray Allen, part of the Celtics' Big Three that won Boston's last championship in 2008, is one of the finalists for the Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2018 announced Saturday at NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.

Allen, the all-time leader in three-pointers with 2,973, who, with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, helped the Celtics hang their 17th championship banner, joins Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Grant Hills and WNBA stars Tina Thompson and Katie Smith as first-time nominees. Also among the finalists are Maurice Cheeks, Chris Webber, coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell, coach Kim Mulkey, coach Rudy Tomjanovich, referee Hugh Evans, and the Wayland Baptist University women’s team.

The inductees to be enshrined in the Hall in September in Springfield, Mass., will be revealed April 1 at the NCAA men's Final Four in San Antonio. 

Finalists for induction need to be retired for at least three seasons. They'll now be voted on by a 24-member panel that includes current Hall of Famers, basketball executives and media members. Those receiving at least 18 of 24 votes will be inducted.

More on the Hall finalists here from NBCSports.com's Pro Basketball Talk 

Allen was part of a recent Celtics Talk podcast where he talked about his Celtics career and the controversy after he left to join the Miami Heat in 2012. Click here or listen below.


Jaylen Brown scores 35 in Rising Stars game

USA TODAY Sports photo

Jaylen Brown scores 35 in Rising Stars game

LOS ANGELES – A year ago this time, Jaylen Brown couldn’t even get an invite to the rookie-sophomore game, the Rising Stars Challenge.

But this year, he was there and he played a prominent role for Team USA even though it wasn’t enough as the Team World squad easily won, 155-124.

MORE BROWN - Shut up and dribble? "That's ridiculous," says Brown 

It certainly wasn’t because of Brown who led all scorers with 35 points on 14-for-21 shooting along with 10 rebounds.

And it was vintage Brown, mixing in an array of jumpers, 3-pointers and of course a pair memorable between-the-leg dunks.

Brown put on a show, for sure which isn’t all that surprising when you consider how the perceived snub last year served as added motivation for him on Friday night.

“Definitely I feel like I've got a chip on my shoulder, so I come out with that tenacity that I want people to recognize,” Brown told reporters after the game. “I want people to see. I just come out and play with that fire and let everything else fall into place.”

In addition to leading all scorers on Friday night, Brown also set a Celtics record for most points scored in the rookie-sophomore game.

“Like I said before, it's just great being here,” Brown said. “It's a tremendous opportunity. I just thank the NBA for letting me be part of this weekend. I had a lot of fun, and I just came out and was playing some basketball. Simple.”

Brown's Celtics teammate, rookie Jayson Tatum, came off the Team USA bench and scored 15 points.

And while they didn’t play too many stints together on Friday, both being selected for the game is a reminder of just how their progression and growth within the Celtics organization is along the same lines for each of them.

BLAKELY - Smart's return would pay bigger dividends than Hayward's right now 

“This year we've grown tremendously together,” Brown said. “Just studying older guys – Kyrie [Irving], Marcus Morris, [Aron] Baynes, and learning the game together, Al Horford. So me and him have gotten better together. So anytime you can grow with somebody in this league and also be successful, it's always dope being a part of situations like this. Like the Rising Stars Challenge I think is pretty cool. I think in the future, if we continue to stay together and continue to grow, I think we could be special.”

The same could be said for Brown’s play on Friday night, the kind of performance that speaks to the improvement in his game this season.

“My growth from last year to this year was significant, and my growth from this year to next year is going to be even better,” Brown said. “So, that's all it's about at the end of the day. It's not about dominating, it's not about this. It's just about getting better each and every day, you know, and just trying to hang a banner in Boston.”

Here are some of Brown's best moves: 

And Tatum's: