Celtics

Celtics-Pacers Preview: the latest installment of next man up

stevens_celtics_312018.jpg
AP Photo

Celtics-Pacers Preview: the latest installment of next man up

BOSTON – Tonight’s game will be the latest installment of the “Next Man Up” series that has been a season-long drama for the Boston Celtics.

Jaylen Brown is in the NBA’s concussion protocol program after taking a hard fall in Thursday’s 117-109 win at Minnesota.

His absence means someone else will get a chance to fill his void in the starting lineup.

MORE CELTICS:

But balancing that need with keeping the Celtics’ high-powered bench intact, is why Brown’s replacement may not necessarily be one of the first guards off the bench.

That was the strategy in Boston’s win at Chicago last week, a game in which the Celtics had Shane Larkin filling in for an injured Kyrie Irving.

Considering Boston (46-20) has won six of its last seven games, clinched a playoff berth quicker than any Stevens-coached team, you can understand why he wants to keep his roster and rotations as status quo as possible.

Boston’s second unit has been an elite scoring unit since the all-star break, averaging a league-best 52.4 points since coming back from the all-star break.

And keeping that unit intact is viewed as vital to Boston’s goals of continued success.

“He has an unwavering belief in that,” said Boston’s Kyrie Irving. “I think you need that as a coach, to really echo confidence in the guys playing on that second unit. So, I’m with him all the way. They play extremely well together; coming in and change the game. That’s what we need from them.”

It’ll be particularly important tonight against an Indiana team that’s playing some of the best basketball in the NBA right now.

The Pacers (38-28) have won seven of their last 10 games and are just a half-game behind Cleveland (38-27) for the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.

“(Bojan) Bogdonovic has been great all year,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “The addition of (Trevor) Booker gives them a guy that can play a lot like Thaddeus Young when Thaddeus isn’t in the game. Very quick, posts, rolls, dunks, shoots the 3, not a high volume 3-point shooter but certainly can, so they get to play the same way with the first unit.”

Indiana’s depth in the frontcourt is so deep, former Celtic big man Al Jefferson is now the team’s fifth big man behind Young, Booker, Myles Turner and Domantis Sabonis.

“They’ve had a good year and I’m really impressed in watching the Pacers,” Stevens said. “They’ve done a great job.

Stevens added, “at the end of the day, those guys play hard and they play the right way. I have a lot of respect for them.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Re-live Kevin Garnett's "Anything is possible" moment on anniversary of Celtics' title

Re-live Kevin Garnett's "Anything is possible" moment on anniversary of Celtics' title

It's hard to believe the Boston Celtics won the 2008 NBA Finals over the Los Angeles Lakers 11 years ago.

Monday marks the 11th anniversary of the C's winning their 17th championship on June 17, 2008, so it seems like a good time to bring back an iconic moment from the celebration.

The Celtics trounced the Los Angeles Lakers 131-92 in Game 6 at TD Garden to clinch the franchise's first title since 1986. While there were many memorable moments from the postgame festivities, nothing stands out as much as Celtics star Kevin Garnett shouting "Anything's possible!" to ESPN's Michele Tafoya. 

Re-live Garnett's amazing moment in the video below:

Celtics fans will never tire of that video, and nor should they.

Garnett waited 13 years to win his first NBA championship. He had accomplished nearly everything but a title in his 12 years with the Minnesota Timberwolves before joining the Celtics via trade in the summer of 2007. Garnett's triumph in 2008 a fitting addition to his Hall of Fame résumé.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Kendrick Perkins hints at more big moves for Lakers after Anthony Davis trade

Kendrick Perkins hints at more big moves for Lakers after Anthony Davis trade

The Los Angeles Lakers pulled off a blockbuster trade Saturday night by agreeing to acquire superstar center Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, and one former Boston Celtics player doesn't think the Purple and Gold are done making impactful moves.

Kendrick Perkins, who won a championship with the Celtics in 2008 as their starting center, hinted at more fireworks from the Lakers in a tweet Saturday.

The Lakers have around $25 million in salary cap space after the Davis trade, so they still are in play for a max-contract free agent once the market opens June 30, although a top-tier free agent would need to take a small discount to sign with Los Angeles. 

L.A. still needs a point guard to facilitate the offense after giving up Lonzo Ball in the Davis trade. Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker, who's eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer, would be a nice fit next to James. Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving, also an upcoming UFA, could choose to reunite with James after spending three years together on the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2014-15 through 2016-17.

Perkins seems pretty confident in the Lakers' chances of building a championship-caliber roster for next season, and he's not alone: oddsmakers have already pegged L.A. as the favorites to win the 2020 NBA Finals. Plenty of work remains for the Lakers in constructing a title-contending team, however, but they are off to a good start following the acquisition of Davis. 

Click here for biggest winners and losers from the Anthony Davis trade>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.