Marcus Smart gets up shots, details Mike Tyson-like pain

Marcus Smart gets up shots, details Mike Tyson-like pain

INDIANAPOLIS — Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart, sidelined by a torn oblique, accompanied the team to Indiana and got up shots following the team’s morning shootaround.

Smart engaged in some light shooting under the watch of assistant coach Jay Larranaga. He didn’t spend much time on the court, putting up flat-flooted shots from around the blocks and the free-throw line.

“It feels good [to shoot]. It’ll be two weeks this Sunday. We’re coming up on the two-week mark, and once again, I said earlier in the week, I’m still very ecstatic with the progress that I made,” said Smart, who was expected to miss 4-6 weeks before being able to return to basketball activities. 

"I’m obviously nowhere near coming back but to be able to get back on the court, get some shots up, and be able to do a little more things actively is great progress for me.”

Smart cautioned against getting overly excited about the sight of him back on a court.

"It definitely still hurts. It does hurt,” said Smart. "It doesn’t hurt as much as the initial injury or as much as it did a couple days ago. But it’s definitely still some pain here, with some scar tissue and obviously the tear and everything. So we’re not trying to rush anything. We’re trying to keep a baseline with what I’m doing, and we’re pleased with the progress.”

Smart said he’s been able to walk fluidly more in recent days but doesn't plan to start jogging for the next couple weeks. He deemed himself “ahead of schedule” in terms of doing everyday tasks like walking and breathing normally, but admitted there’s still a lot of recovery ahead before even thinking about playoff basketball.

Asked to describe the pain from the initial injury, Smart offered a telling comparison.

"I’m sure nobody would know but you could probably imagine getting hit by Mike Tyson with a body blow,” said Smart. "That’s how painful it was. It took me down, instantly. When I got back up it knocked the wind out of me and I thought I was OK. I’ve been hit before. And then the second time it felt like someone shot me. There’s nothing I could do on that one. 

"I literally just collapsed and just told them to get me back to the back. There was so much pain going through my body that I didn’t know what was going on. It makes sense now with the MRIs and everything coming out to see that the oblique was torn. Now it makes sense why I was in so much pain. But it definitely felt like I was in the ring with Mike Tyson for about 10 seconds.”

Smart joined the team on the bench for Game 2 in Boston and was able to dispense advice to teammates, who said he offered defensive tips during most timeouts. Smart said that, not being able to help on the court, he felt he needed to be in Indiana to assist from the sideline.

"That was one thing Danny [Ainge] emphasized with me, being able to coach from the bench and really help these guys out, because, for some of these guys, it’s their first time taking on bigger roles,” said Smart. "They’re used to playing with or without people this year and unfortunately injuries happen. Stuff happens and they’ve been put in the fire. So being able to help those guys in certain things on this team is big for me, because they trust me to do that.”

Coach Smart has been diving into the film hoping to give his team hints about what might be coming.

"Just plays I know they’re going to run, plays I picked up on or were scouted,” said Smart. "The plays they like to run that we watch on video. And just trying to give those guys an extension of [coach] Brad [Stevens] on the floor. Only so much Brad can do — he has all these players to manage, and I’m watching those guys on the court. I can see a lot more things than Brad probably could because he’s watching something else. Just try to keep them in the right place and guide them off the court.”

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Daniel Theis making a strong case to be a starter for the Celtics

Daniel Theis making a strong case to be a starter for the Celtics

BOSTON -- Daniel Theis is on board with the across-the-board messaging coming out of Boston Celtics training camp this year, centered around building team chemistry and good habits. 

Lately, Theis has made it a habit of being in the right place at the right time for the Celtics since joining the starting lineup in the last two preseason games. 

And the way he has played, the 27-year-old Theis is positioning himself to be the team’s starting center. 

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has acknowledged that this season may be one in which the starting center position is rotated on a nightly basis depending upon matchups. 

But there’s no mistaking the play of Theis has, on many levels, elevated him to top-shelf status as far as the center position is concerned. 

He has been in the starting lineup each of the last two preseason games, both resulting in blowout wins for Boston (3-0).

Indeed, it has not gone unnoticed by Stevens how well Theis has fit in with the starting group that includes Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. 

It’s particularly noticeable on the defensive end of the floor.

“If you watch closely, that’s a tied-together group on that end of the court,” Stevens said. “And obviously, when you don’t start (Marcus) Smart you have your best defender coming off the bench. So, it’s really important that that group starts, able to understand when to kick guys out, when to be up, when to be back, when to react to a threat and they’re really good at it, together.”

And as far as Theis’ role, Stevens added, “Daniel’s gotten better at that over time. That’s largely the result of being here the longest. We’ve had really good defenders in (Aron) Baynes and (Al) Horford, that he’s played behind. But he’s working on all that stuff, too.”

Theis says the only thing he’s trying to accomplish when he’s on the floor, “is to be myself.”

He added, “Coaches want us to pressure, run the court; I think all of us bigs, we can run the court and pressure and play hard.”

While that’s true, one of the advantages Theis has is among the team’s big men, he is the most experienced with the Celtics system. 

And at 6-foot-8 with solid lateral quickness, Theis has shown himself to be effective when having to switch out on smaller players which is becoming a more common necessity in a league where big-man defenders are challenged to limit teams that often use more non-traditional, smaller lineups. 

In Boston’s blowout win at Orlando on Friday, Theis switching out defensively led to a pair of Magic turnovers in the first quarter that helped set the tone in the victory. 

His ability to contest shots at the rim has enabled Boston’s wings to swoop in for rebounds which has allowed the Celtics to get out in transition which they will have to do more of this season due to the team’s overall lack of size. 

The other four starters - Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum - will assume the lion’s share of the scoring load, but that’s fine with Theis. 

When it comes to scoring, he doesn’t need a bunch of touches to feel involved. 

But he does want to do his part to make sure he’s at least seen as a scoring threat when he’s on the floor, especially when it comes to long-range shooting. 

With Horford (Philadelphia) and Baynes (Phoenix) no longer on the roster, Boston doesn’t really have a 3-point threat from the center position. 

And then there’s Theis, who has shown the ability to make that shot but hasn’t taken it too often in the past. 

A career 35.2 percent 3-point shooter, Theis connected on 38.8 percent of his 3’s last season. 

But here’s the catch … he averaged just 1.0 attempt per game.

Knowing that he might be called upon to be more of a long-range shooter this season, Theis said improving his range was something he focused on during the offseason. 

But more than the shooting, Theis wanted to best ensure that he was in good health heading into this season. 

Theis was playing some of the best basketball of his NBA career when he suffered a torn meniscus injury in his left knee in March of 2018 - just weeks prior to the start of the playoffs. 

Since returning to the lineup, Theis has made strengthening that knee a priority. That involves additional stretching routines as part of his usual pre-game and pre-practice warm-up routine. 

But it’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to play significant minutes this season.

“Like I said, when I get out there, I just want to be myself and just help us win,” Theis told NBC Sports Boston. “Rebound, defense, score, whatever they need me to do I’ll do.”

Celtics vets embracing TackoMania, good vibes from rookies>>>

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Enes Kanter can't get enough of Tacko Fall driving him around Boston area

Enes Kanter can't get enough of Tacko Fall driving him around Boston area

Boston Celtics fans love Tacko Fall. That much is abundantly clear.

But Fall's teammates -- especially Enes Kanter -- are equally as enamored with the Celtics' rookie sensation.

Want proof? Following the C's preseason win over the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden, Kanter posted a minute-long video on Twitter and TikTok of Fall chauffeuring him around the Boston area in the "TackoMobil" while he gleefully narrated.

Kanter seemed fascinated by Fall's ability to fold his 7-foot-6 frame into a car and got a kick out of the big man's size 22 (!!) shoe.

Fall is a responsible rookie, though, and told Kanter he had to keep his eyes on the road rather than give a shout-out to the camera.

It's a good thing Fall practices safe driving habits, because the "Tacko Mobile" apparently is a thing. Here's Celtics big man Vincent Poirier seeing Fall and Kanter off from TD Garden on Sunday:

Fall signed a two-way contract with the C's on Sunday, so he'll spend most of his rookie season with the Maine Red Claws. He'll likely make periodic trips to Boston, though, which means the "Tacko Mobile" could log some serious miles this season.

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