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BOSTON — Boston Celtics big man Enes Kanter, sidelined since the season opener with a knee bruise, has been cleared to return to action in advance of Monday’s visit from the Dallas Mavericks.
Kanter gave an emphatic fist pump after huddling with team trainers and coach Brad Stevens following the team’s morning shootaround. Kanter has been antsy to get back on the court but said the team winning seven in a row made it a bit easier to be sidelined.
“[The training staff] just wanted me to be 100 percent,” said Kanter. "They just didn't want me to be 95 percent, they wanted me to be 100 percent and feel comfortable. It's more of a confidence thing, because when you come back from an injury and when you are playing 5-on-5, you are still thinking about it. You're still thinking about what's going to happen. I played 1-on-1 [Sunday], two days ago I played 5-on-5. I feel pretty confident. We'll see how it feels tonight.”
Stevens noted it’s the training staff’s job to protect the player.
"That’s their job to make sure that a guy is 100 percent ready before they let him on the court,” said Stevens. "So everybody is anxious to play, but I know he appreciates that, too.”
Kanter got rolled up on in Boston’s season-opener in Philadelphia but toughed it out the rest of the game. He’s slowly worked his way back since that point.
"It's tough to not be out there and part of this winning streak but I'm happy for them,” said Kanter. "They are doing an amazing job staying together, having fun and building chemistry. I'm glad to see they were having fun out there.”
Kanter also noted he was in the locker room in San Antonio when Gordon Hayward suffered a broken hand.
"I asked him, 'What happened?' and he said it was fractured or something,” said Kanter. "I'm just glad it's his left hand. It's not his right hand. I was very sad for him but I know he's a warrior. I know he's going to come back stronger and do his best to get rehab.
"He wants to be out there with his teammates and help us win. The crazy thing is he was playing an unbelievable season. Like I said at the beginning of the season, he's back 100 percent and he's going to shock the world and then he was shocking the world. Now, he gets the injury, but I know he's going to come back and be amazing again.”
Rookie Romeo Langford, listed on the injury report, was at shootaround Monday morning. Stevens said the team plans to keep him around this week and, if healthy, will send him back to Maine for the Red Claws’ pair of games this weekend.
"Romeo will be here this week and then we’ll make the assessment after that,” said Stevens. "If he’s not — knock on wood, we don’t have any injury issues or anything else — then we just want to get him as much time as possible. So we would probably send him back at the end of the week, but that’s totally dependent on what’s going on with our team.”
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