Celtics

Daniel Theis happy to be back on court as recovery continues

Daniel Theis happy to be back on court as recovery continues

BRIGHTON – For Daniel Theis, every day brings about a new adventure … and a new wrinkle to his recovery from a torn meniscus injury in March.

The 6-foot-9 forward is back in town, working his way towards one goal which is to be ready to participate in training camp with the Boston Celtics.

“I’m getting there,” Theis told NBC Sports Boston. “I’ve been back two weeks. I’ve been doing new stuff every day.”

Theis recently began doing full-court sprints.

On Wednesday, Theis said he had been working on changing direction and cutting at a higher speed.

“I’m just happy to be back on the basketball court,” Theis said. “I’ve been working out the whole summer, lifting in the weight room when I wasn’t back home.”

Theis added, “A little bit of running outside. Since I’m back (in Boston) … being on the basketball court doing basketball player stuff; it’s fun. I’m happy now.”

If you’re around Theis for more than five minutes, you’ll realize that he’s in a jovial mood most if not all of the time.

Which is why the torn meniscus injury he suffered was so difficult to deal with.

It did more than just sideline him for an extended period of time.

The injury took away the one joy – basketball – that has been a significant part of his life.

And to be on the bench, watching the team play on without him was a bittersweet time for the 26-year-old Theis.

“First of all, I learned how to be patient,” Theis said. “I wanted to go back on the court so fast. They told me to be patient, you can’t rush the process of healing. I learned that a lot. It was hard watching games on sideline or TV because I wanted to be there. At the end it was so much fun to see those guys, how they played. Every night they give 100 percent whole team, fans, the Celtics organization. Now, I just want to be a big part of this too. I want to be on the court and do the same they did last part of the season and hopefully I can be part of this.”

Theis said he is looking forward to doing some 1-on-1, 2-on-2 and 5-on-5 work later this month and be ready to play once training camp starts.

“I’m still a little bit away,” Theis said. “Every day they put in new stuff. It’s the day after that’s important to see how my knee reacts. (Wednesday), with more speed. (Thursday) we’ll see how my knee reacts. For now, my knee never reacted bad. My main goal is to be ready for training camp.”

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Marcus Smart's impossibly hot 3-point shooting

Marcus Smart's impossibly hot 3-point shooting

BOSTON — The fur-trimmed jacket that Marcus Smart wore to his postgame media session Friday hinted at a player who expected to be in front of the cameras. But, given the way he’s been shooting the ball lately, it’d be fair if Smart dressed with a little extra swag most nights.

Heck, Smart probably didn’t need a coat. He spent Friday night engulfed in flames while connecting on six of the eight 3-pointers he hoisted while finishing with 20 points in Boston’s 122-116 triumph over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Smart is now shooting 37.4 percent beyond the 3-point arc this season. That’s nearly 2 full percentage points above league average. He’s shooting better beyond the arc than Klay Thompson (36.9 percent entering Friday’s action). 

In fact, Boston’s starting backcourt of Smart and Kyrie Irving have combined to shoot 41.1 percent beyond the arc this year. That’s not too far off from the 41.7 percent that Thompson and Steph Curry have combined to average this season for Golden State.

Splash Brothers East? Snow Bros? Cobra Ky? After combining to shoot 71.4 percent beyond the arc in Friday’s game, Boston’s starting backcourt duo might need a nickname.

It’d be fair to wonder if this is just another one of Smart’s hot streaks but it’s gone on so long now that — if he can stay healthy — it might not be a mirage.

☘️CELTICS 122, GRIZZLIES 116


Smart is shooting 53.7 percent beyond the 3-point arc in January while putting up 5.1 attempts through eight games. Since Dec. 15, Smart is shooting a team-best 47.4 percent beyond the arc.

Smart entered the season shooting 29.3 percent from 3 for his career and still feels disrespected when people suggest this is some sort of fluke.

"My whole life I’ve been criticized for all kinds of things,” said Smart. "I’ve always been the underdog, and I’ve always bet on myself. So this isn’t new to me and to be honest, it’s not even a surprise to me. 

"Like I said, I’ve been putting in the work and eventually it was going to pay off, and it’s starting to, and I’m feel good, and this team is feeling good. They keep giving me confidence and my confidence is going to stay up.  Hopefully the shots keep falling.”

Smart has maintained that there’s nothing mechanical to his improvements beyond simply staying healthy and putting in the work to improve his shot. His coach backs up his story.

“I thought [Smart] was going to have a really good shooting year last year. He put in a lot of time and work over the summer and then he had a couple of hand injuries and I think that that set him back for that season,” said Brad Stevens. "But you could see that there was a foundation there that was going to really pay off. He’s always made big shots but you could see that his shot had really improved, so it was unfortunate about the injuries.  And then this year, it’s looked good all year.”

Echoed Smart: "I definitely felt the same way. I took a destructive injury with my hand a few times, so it kind of delayed the process. I thank God that everything has been on track for me. I’ve just been working and kept at it, and I finally been able to break through.”

☘️CELTICS 122, GRIZZLIES 116


Smart has been quick to credit the 3-point shooting contests he and teammates tend to engage in after practice but the secret might ultimately just be health and confidence. It’s obvious just how much Smart trusts that shot right now. That much was on display when he came racing to the top of the arc and swished a catch-and-shoot 3 in the second half of Friday’s win.

In typical Smart fashion, he’s shot absurdly well above the breaks this season but struggled from the corner. Many NBA players feast on corner triples but Smart clearly prefers the added degree of difficulty.

In the bigger picture, when Smart can contribute consistent offense, it makes it even harder for Stevens to take him off the court. He’s developed great chemistry with Irving, maybe even setting the sort of defensive example that forced Irving to embrace that side of the ball this season.

There’s a strong case to be made for Smart as Boston’s second All-Star should the East coaches voting reserves desire to put another Celtics player in the game (though the team’s overall struggles make that a tougher sell).

Is Smart’s shooting sustainable? The past month suggests it is. If Smart can stay healthy, there’s no reason that 3-pointer can’t remain a weapon. But what’s maybe more important to sustaining it is Smart, with his underdog mentality, keeps finding motivation in proving his doubters wrong.

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