Celtics

Celtics youth working through their growing pains

celtics_jazz_kyrie_irving_121517.jpg

Celtics youth working through their growing pains

LOS ANGELES – You never like to put too much stock into any particular stretch of the season.

But listening to the Celtics following their 103-95 loss to the now-14 win Orlando Magic, the Celtics head west searching for continuity, a rekindled resolve and maybe most important, a clearer path towards where they are and just how far they can go with this current crew.

So as basketball junkies crunch the numbers, analyze and then over-analyze the data, there’s one factor in all this that has for the most part been ignored in their ascension to the top of the Eastern Conference mountaintop – their youth.

We talk about it in the context of 19-year-old Jayson Tatum who does some amazing things that players who have been in the league for years, do not do.

But as you start to look at tis roster and see players like rookie Semi Ojeleye, 25-year-old fellow rookie Daniel Theis from Germany and Tatum play in crunch time, it’s a reminder that these kids have grown up pretty fast all things considered.

However, they are still prone to make the mistakes of youth and maybe just as significant, have stretches when they just don’t play with the kind of consistency required to be one of the top teams in the NBA.

Boston (34-13) has shown itself capable of playing with the big boys in the NBA, despite being a team littered wit bunch of young pups in terms of experience and chemistry.

And while what many may see as a team that’s trying to find its way through a rough patch of games, that’s not what’s going on.

These are growing pains, the kind that every team goes through to some extent.

But the struggles seem more pronounced with a team with so many young players.

That’s why the idea of adding a player (a shooter please) is one that the Celtics are seriously looking into on all levels of play.

Now mind you, Boston has an $8.4 million disabled player exception from the Gordon Hayward injury which they can use to add a player who is in the final year of his contract.

Most teams let it lapse without using it, but I’m told the Celtics have every intention of using it because as we’ve seen of late, there’s a clear and undeniable need for this team to add a scorer, be it in the frontcourt or on the perimeter.

They need a steady perimeter scorer, the kind of player that can hit the ground but more important, hit shots.

Boston is first going to go the G-League route which has led to them signing Jarell Eddie to a 10-day contract with the hope that he can show more promise than their current roster that’s full of perimeter players who have been inconsistent shooters all season.

Even during their season-best 16 game winning streak and later when they reeled off seven in a row, their success was rooted in good defense and ho-hum offense.

We’re deep enough into the season to have a pretty good feel for who the Celtics are, and yet there’s still enough time for them to make a radical change and still have plenty of time before the postseason arrives.

That’s why this west coast trip is about more than just trying to right the ship; it’s about determining if Danny Ainge needs to switch up the crew with some addition by subtraction.

It’s no secret that the Celtics could use some added depth in a number of areas.

But the most glaring weakness right now is perimeter shooting, which is why Jarell Eddie is here.

The Celtics signed him to a 10-day contract because the players they have already signed to guaranteed deals have been anything but a guarantee to make shots.

And while some perceive that as something lacking in the players, the only thing we know for sure that they lack is experience which is something time takes care of as this Boston team continues to come of age, one youngster at a time.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Celtics' Aron Baynes (hamstring) out for Monday game against the Magic

Celtics' Aron Baynes (hamstring) out for Monday game against the Magic

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics will be short-handed for Monday's game against the Orlando Magic.

Aron Baynes suffered a right hamstring injury in the second quarter of Boston's 103-101 win over New York on Saturday, and has been ruled out for action against the Magic by Celtics officials. 

Although the NBA season is still very young, Baynes has wasted no time making his presence felt both defensively in addition to being another scorer both from inside the lane and from the perimeter.

With Baynes out, look for Guerschon Yabusele and Daniel Theis to see some time off the bench until Baynes returns. 

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.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

The Boston Celtics' Week 1 Stars, Studs, and Duds

The Boston Celtics' Week 1 Stars, Studs, and Duds

BOSTON – Considering how bad the preseason went for the Boston Celtics in terms of wins and losses, concluding the first real week of the season with a 2-1 record isn’t too shabby, especially when you consider the lone loss came at Toronto which has owned the Celtics North of the Border with wins in 10 of their last 11 meetings.

But this week has been anything but predictable.

We have seen unexpected growth from some of the team’s youngest players, while other seasoned veterans (Kyrie Irving) haven't exactly hit the ground running producing at a level we’re accustomed to.

But one thing has unfortunately been similar to what we saw last season after the first week – injuries.

Aron Baynes suffered a right hamstring injury in the second quarter of Boston’s 103-101 win at New York on Saturday, an injury that has created some uncertainty as to when the veteran center will return to action.

However, injuries have served as an opportunity for others to get a chance to play and depending on the extent of Baynes’ injury, don’t be surprised to see guys near the end of the bench such as Guerschon Yabusele and Daniel Theis find their way on to the court more consistently depending on how long Baynes will be sidelined.

Here are the Week 1 Stars, Studs and Duds for the Boston Celtics.

STARS

Jayson Tatum: Three games into the season and Tatum is off to a fast start as the best all-around player on the Celtics roster. He scored the final six points in Boston’s 103-101 win at New York on Sunday as part of a strong start to the season. In three games, Tatum has averaged a double-double of 21 points and 10.7 rebounds while shooting 47.9 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from 3-point range.

Kyrie Irving: The numbers are not what Irving or his legion of fans are used to seeing, even this early in the season. In three games, he’s shooting just 34 percent from the field, averaging 14.7 points and six assists per game. But the days of Irving needing to score a ton of points to impact games, are over. He’ll have those nights, for sure. But he’s finding ways to put his imprint on the game in other ways such as timely passes for teammates leading to easy buckets, or playing the passing lanes defensively to help create turnovers. The numbers aren’t there, but it’s clear that Irving continues to do star-like things in order to help Boston win.

STUDS

Al Horford: Arguably the most consistent player for the Celtics thus far, Horford has been really strong out of the gates with his defense and rebounding. After three games, Horford is averaging 2.0 blocks and 8.0 rebounds while scoring 10.3 points per game. Depending on the status of Aron Baynes, Boston may find itself leaning even more on Horford during the early part of this season for both rebounding and defense.

Marcus Morris: He has talked a lot about how good he and the Celtics’ bench are this season. And to Morris’ credit, he’s backed up every word thus far. The leader of B.W.A. (Bench With Attitude) has averaged 13.3 points on 45.2 percent shooting from the field, along with six rebounds per game. In addition, Morris’ versatility as a defender has been a huge plus for Boston in its efforts to continue being a position-less team capable of creating mismatches at multiple positions seemingly every possession.

DUDS

Jaylen Brown: His versatility as a two-way talent is undeniable. But Brown hasn’t gotten off to the best of starts, particularly when it comes to defense. The league’s new emphasis on limiting hand contact while defending, has been an adjustment of sorts for Brown who has averaged 3.7 personal fouls per game which is a noticeable spike compared to what he averaged last season (2.6) and during his rookie season (1.8). But more important, is how he’s defending when not being called for a foul. In the win over the New York Knicks, players defended by Brown connected on 11 of their 16 shots from the field with Tim Hardaway Jr. doing most of the damage. According to NBA.com/stats, Hardaway was 6-for-10 shooting when guarded by Brown. The rest of time, he missed nine of his 11 field goal attempts.  

Injuries: Having been hit with a haymaker on the injury front a year ago (Gordon Hayward), you would have thought the basketball gods would have at least let the Celtics make it through the first week injury-free. Nope. Aron Baynes has a right hamstring injury and it isn't clear when he'll return to the floor. The center position is the one area where Boston doesn't have a lot of depth so not having Baynes, for any significant amount of time, is a huge blow. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE