Celtics' Enes Kanter (knee) cleared to return vs. Mavericks Monday

Celtics' Enes Kanter (knee) cleared to return vs. Mavericks Monday

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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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The Enes Kanter Show: Why he snapped at Kendrick Perkins over Celtics tweet

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The Enes Kanter Show: Why he snapped at Kendrick Perkins over Celtics tweet

Enes Kanter likes to have fun on Twitter.

But the Boston Celtics big man also has to look out for his own.

That's why, when ESPN analyst (and former Celtic) Kendrick Perkins openly proposed that the Celtics trade Gordon Hayward for Steven Adams to give them their "missing piece," Kanter snapped back

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On the latest episode of "The Enes Kanter Show," Kanter explained to NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg why couldn't let Perkins' tweet slide.

Click here to listen and subscribe to The Enes Kanter Show Podcast:


I look at it this way: This is my family. My teammates are like my brothers. ... And it doesn't matter who you are. I will not let anyone mess with my brothers.

You don't know what Gordon or anyone else is going through. People respect Perkins a lot, and I respect him too. But for him to just go out there and say it like that, I was like, 'You cannot mess with my family like that."

The Celtics have been involved in speculation about adding a big man before the Feb. 6 trade deadline. This current group is tight-knit, though, and it's nice to see Kanter standing up for Hayward, who was also his teammate for three-plus seasons on the Utah Jazz.

"Our locker room is our locker room," Kanter added. "We won't let any distraction or outside voice break us down."

Check out the full episode above -- Kanter also discusses his fondest memories of the late Kobe Bryant and growing up a Lakers fan in Turkey -- and subscribe to "The Enes Kanter Show" on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network.

Celtics' Marcus Smart again comes up with 'unbelievable' key plays late that shouldn't be overlooked

Celtics' Marcus Smart again comes up with 'unbelievable' key plays late that shouldn't be overlooked

MIAMI — Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Marcus Smart labors through a rough shooting night and is uncharacteristically sloppy handling the ball for the better part of three quarters. Then, crunch time rolls around and Marcus Smart morphs into the most valuable player on the court.

It’s a tale as old as time. But it played itself out again on Tuesday night in Miami. Smart missed nine of his first 10 shots and matched his season-high with four turnovers.

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Still, with the game in the balance, Smart did Smart things. Like calmly knocking down a straightaway 3-pointer with 1:50 remaining on a kick out from Kemba Walker. Like swatting down what should have been an easy Bam Adebayo dunk a short time later. Like flinging himself into a trio of baby-blue jerseys and out-jumping the springy Adebayo for an impossible offensive rebound in the final minute.

A cursory glance at the box score will have most dismissing Smart’s night. He finished with 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting — missing all five of his shots inside the arc and five more of eight beyond it — with the four turnovers. 

But he balanced it out with eight rebounds, four assists, and three blocks in 36:29. All while being absolutely everywhere down the stretch as the Celtics picked up one of their best road wins of the season in Miami.

What was going through Smart’s mind late in the game?

“Win,” said Smart. "To me, it’s just what can I do to help my team? And, [on the offensive rebound], I saw a loose ball. I just thought, first one to get it, whatever happens, happens.

"I’m in the air, so I was hoping I didn’t get flipped or get hit in the face like I usually do. But you can’t think of that in the moment. You gotta go, and go hit the ball. First person to the floor, first person to the ball wins.”

Walker marveled at the way Smart makes all the key plays in high-pressure situations.

"Man, that dude. I love that dude,” said Walker. "I love his passion for the game. I love his energy. I love how he competes each and every night. He makes me want to compete just like him.

"He’s just so tough. He’s not scared of the moment. He made so many huge plays down the stretch. I know everybody will probably say the 3 that he made, but Adebayo had an open basket, he blocked his shot. I missed a shot, he got a huge [rebound]. He’s unbelievable. Unbelievable.”

Smart seemed smitten to learn of Walker’s praise. He noted it carries additional heft because of Walker’s All-Star status and the intensity that Walker brings to the floor.

“It’s a great feeling. I love Kemba, that’s my brother,” said Smart. “Just like all these guys in this locker room. But to hear somebody of his caliber just really really really give you praise and the recognition that you probably never get, it means a lot.”

Smart said he couldn’t allow missed shots to impact his energy. In fact, the missed shots only caused him to lock in a bit more defensively and find other ways to impact the game.

And all the struggles of the first 46 minutes will be forgotten because of his efforts in the last two.

“Continue to do what I normally do. I don’t really let shots not falling affect how I play, energy-wise,” said Smart. “Times like that, when your shot's not falling, your defense has to be at an all-time high. So, for me, just making sure guys are in the right spots on the defensive end and just really really really getting guys like [Jaylen Brown] and Gordon [Hayward] — they were the hot guys tonight, so we were trying to find them as much as we can.”

Still, teammates marvel at the way Smart can just take over a game with nothing more than grit and desire.

“Getting that tip-out…when he tipped it out and we were able to shoot free throws, that was a big momentum play, a huge play, at the end of the game,” said Grant Williams, who has affectionately dubbed himself a "Smart Mini-Me” and left a similar energy-filled stamp on the game Tuesday night. Williams noted that Smart’s play undoubtedly rubs off on the rest of the team.

Said Williams: “Just following his lead.”

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