Celtics

Barea gets 'a little bit of good news' after suffering injury vs. Celtics

Barea gets 'a little bit of good news' after suffering injury vs. Celtics

BOSTON – Already undermanned as it is, the Dallas Mavericks will be without another one of their key players this season. 

In the fourth quarter of Boston’s 90-83 win over the Mavericks, former Northeastern star J.J. Barea went down with a left leg injury that will keep him out for a yet-to-be determined amount of time. 

Barea, dribbling the ball, suddenly went down without any contact and began to grab his left calf followed by him pounding the parquet floor, visibly in pain. 

“Never felt that in my basketball career,” said Barea who finished with nine points and six assists. “I thought it was the Achilles, but a little bit of good news it’s my calf. Hopefully I don’t need surgery or anything, just got to wait. 

Barea added, “Feels like you got shot or you’re trying to run and get shot in the leg. That’s how you feel for a second. I’ve been having problems with my Achilles lately and I thought it was it, but it’s fine so hopefully it’s not bad.”

Mavericks coach and former Celtic Rick Carlisle said Barea has what he believes is a strained calf injury. 

“We will get an MRI and stuff, but he will be out for a while. It wasn’t anything real serious so we’re very lucky.”

The Mavericks (2-8) are already dealing with an Achilles injury to Dirk Nowitzki who has missed the last five games for Dallas but is apparently close to returning to action. 

And on Wednesday, they got Deron Williams back after he had missed the four previous games with a left calf strain – the same injury that Barea is likely dealing with. 

The injury could not come as a worst time for Barea who has been playing some of the best basketball of his career this season. 

Despite Dallas’ struggles in terms of wins and losses, Barea was having a career season, averaging 17.3 points, 5.4 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game. 

“It’s been a tough start. I’m frustrated. I was playing good and I was playing a lot, but I was helping the team out. (Wednesday night) we finally got into a little rhythm right at the end and I go down. We got to do a good job of staying together and we got a good coaching staff and good players and we’re going to stay together and try to fight this out and get back strong.”

Isaiah Thomas: Coming back to Celtics would make his story 'that much better'

Isaiah Thomas: Coming back to Celtics would make his story 'that much better'

Isaiah Thomas was, and still is, a beloved figure for the Boston Celtics fanbase.

Thomas, of course, was dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers as part of the Kyrie Irving trade in 2017. It was a tough end to an incredible two-plus seasons in Boston for the veteran guard.

Injuries have prevented Thomas from getting back to the All-Star form he showed with the C's during the 2016-17 season, and he hasn't been able to earn a regular spot in the Denver Nuggets rotation this season. In fact, he was removed from the rotation last week by Nuggets head coach Michael Malone.

Thomas' future in the NBA beyond this season is unknown, but it sounds like he'd be open to coming back to Boston to finish his career if the chance came.

"At some point," Thomas told reporters before Monday night's Celtics-Nuggets game at TD Garden. "These were the most fun times in my career. I turned into a superstar here. The world knew my name when I played for the Boston Celtics. Not saying they don't now, but playing for Celtics changed my whole career on and off the floor. This city and this organization treated my family with 100 percent respect. Decisions happen, I never hold any  grudges against anybody, even if I'm not for that decision. 

"You never know what can happen. My options are always open no matter what it is. If I end up back here at some point, that would make the story that much better."

Thomas has struggled this season for Denver, but he's not feeling any ill-effects physically, and that's one reason why he's confident plenty of good times lay ahead for him as an NBA player.

"I just want a legit opportunity," Thomas said. "Whatever the role may be, it's gonna be. I know I can play at a high level again. Given the opportunity, I can be an All-Star, I can be all-NBA, I can be all that because physically I feel great. But it's all about the opportunity. If I get an opportunity, I'm going to be ready for it and take full advantage of it. When this summer comes, I'll figure out what's the best opportunity and situation for myself and my family and then go from there."

There's going to be a lot of emotion at TD Garden on Monday night, even if Thomas doesn't play. The Celtics will play a tribute video for him on the jumbotron during  the first quarter, and the crowd will give him a much-deserved ovation. 

Coming back to the Celtics, whether it's next season or down the road, would be a great way for Thomas to advance his career in an environment where he's going to feel plenty of love and support from the fans and the team. It's not a scenario that should be ruled out.

Click to read about Thomas' best moments as a Celtic>>>

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Returns of Celtics' Gordon Hayward and Nuggets' Isaiah Thomas were handled differently. Who did it right?

Returns of Celtics' Gordon Hayward and Nuggets' Isaiah Thomas were handled differently. Who did it right?

BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas hasn’t played in Denver’s last three games (coaches decision) and it’s unclear if he’ll play tonight, his first time back at the TD Garden healthy enough to suit up since being traded away in the summer of 2017.

Gordon Hayward is out after a blow to the head suffered in the Celtics' win over Atlanta on Saturday.

Both came into this season on the mend, with each showing the kind of inconsistent play you'd expect considering both were out for about a year.

But there's one significant difference.

Boston has allowed Hayward to play through his ups and downs, something that has paid off in him delivering some of his best performances against some of the best teams in the latter stages of this season.

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Thomas was been pulled out of the rotation after just nine games, which seems like a pretty quick hook considering he had missed about 11 months of action. It's a move that might come back to bite the Nuggets in the postseason if Thomas doesn't get a decent amount of reps between now and then. 

One of the main reasons for Thomas getting the hook so quickly? The Nuggets, in a fight for the top overall record in the Western Conference, were just 5-4 in the games Thomas played.

Looking back on Hayward’s first nine games, the Celtics were -- you guessed it -- 5-4. 

A deeper dive into their numbers reveals that in terms of offensive impact, both delivered comparable numbers.  Because Hayward played 25 minutes per game and Thomas was around 15, the best way to examine their numbers head-to-head is to look at how they performed per 36 minutes.

Hayward averaged 14.6 points per 36 minutes, while Thomas delivered 19.8 points per game 36 minutes. Shooting for both Hayward (40.2 percent from the field, 32.4 percent on 3’s) and Thomas (37.3 percent from the field, 27.3 percent on 3’s) were below their usual averages, but still relatively close. 

While it was somewhat surprising that Thomas was taken totally out of the rotation so quickly, timing as much as questions about Thomas’ talent was at the heart of the decision. 

Boston had the luxury of being more patient with Hayward because he began the season able to play, with a minutes restriction. 

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However, the Nuggets were not as fortunate with Thomas. Despite signing a one-year deal in the summer, he didn't play his first game until Feb. 13. 

Still, it’s hard to imagine that had Hayward not returned until the middle of February that the Celtics would have yanked him out of the rotation this quickly. But Denver is in a very different place than the Celtics.

The Nuggets are trying to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013, well aware that their chances of having a deep and meaningful playoff run hinge heavily on their ability to secure home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. 

Meanwhile, the Celtics were built to contend for a title with or without a healthy Hayward, evident by their run towards Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals without Hayward and their leading scorer, Kyrie Irving, who were both sidelined by injury.

More than anything, the way Boston handled Hayward and Denver’s treatment of Thomas coming back from his injury speaks to how each approached how to handle a player that they saw as a key to their chances of success when the season started.

Boston showed showed patience, and it’s paying off. 

Denver didn’t, but you can’t argue with the results -- wins in the three games Thomas has not been in the rotation. 

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