Robert Williams

Tacko Fall the latest to join the list of injured Celtics

Tacko Fall the latest to join the list of injured Celtics

BOSTON -- Robert Williams (concussion protocol) isn’t the only Celtics big man dealing with a head-related injury. 

Tacko Fall did not practice with the team on Saturday after getting hit in the head on Friday, according to coach Brad Stevens. 

“He was a little under the weather,” Stevens said of Fall. “It sounds like, just being very cautious about that. So, we’re hopeful that … he won’t enter concussion protocol but if he needs to, he will.”

Fall, recently signed to a two-way contract by the Celtics, has been a major draw both at the TD Garden and on the road. 

But more than that, the 7-foot-6 sensation has shown improvement in his overall game since the start of training camp. 

The same goes for Williams whose third-year option for the 2020-2021 season was picked up by the Celtics. 

The second-year big man entered training camp as a potential opening night starter for Boston, something that seems less likely now due to the time missed while in concussion protocol. 

Stevens hinted that there’s a pathway that could potentially lead to Williams being cleared to play in the season opener at Philadelphia on Wednesday. 

Williams is expected to work out on Sunday. 

“From what I’ve heard, the next step after that is the non-contact portion of practice,” Stevens said. “And hopefully he can get through contact on Tuesday and cleared, but we don’t know yet.”

The only other injury of note involves rookie Romeo Langford, who suffered a sprained right knee injury in Boston’s 118-72 blowout win over Cleveland on Oct. 13.

He could be cleared to resume practicing with the team sometime next week. 

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Celtics Spotlight: Can 7-foot Vincent Poirier add needed depth at center?

Celtics Spotlight: Can 7-foot Vincent Poirier add needed depth at center?

BOSTON -- Even with all the uncertainty surrounding the Celtics and the center position, Vincent Poirier knew this transition was not going to be a smooth one. 

He’s playing in the NBA for the first time, with a new and unfamiliar group of teammates, in a new system and by all accounts, a very different role than the one he had overseas. 

Spotlights: Walker | Smart | Brown | Hayward | Kanter |

Tatum | Fall | Wanamaker | Ojeleye | Edwards | Williams

But the approach now Poirier says, isn’t all that different than it has been elsewhere when it comes to basketball.

“I’ve been in this situation before where I have to fight to find my spot,” Poirier told NBC Sports Boston. “So I’m ready. I’m just working hard, learning fast and I’m OK with that. I know that’s the process. I’m focusing on my role.”

It’s a successful season for Poirier if… 

...he can work his way into a semi-consistent role this season. In preseason action, the 7-foot center has provided glimpses of why he has been on the Celtics radar for the past three seasons. He led the Euroleague last season in rebounding (8.3 per game) with a good chunk of his damage coming on the offensive glass. While he played limited minutes in the preseason, his per-36 minutes per game numbers are a solid 9.9 points and 8.9 rebounds, the kind of production that Boston will need from the center position this season. 

It’s a disappointing season for Poirier if… 

...he spends most of the season buried at the end of the Celtics’ bench. Distinguishing himself from the rest of those contending for minutes at the center position has been a challenge of sorts thus far in training camp. Daniel Theis has been a solid defender against post players as well as smaller players on defensive switches. Enes Kanter’s low-post game offensively and rebounding prowess will get him on the floor for sure. And Robert Williams III’s freakish athleticism and improved understanding of how to play at this level will mean minutes for the second-year big man as well.

2019-2020 Outlook

Poirier is saying all the right things now as far as being patient while waiting for his chance to play meaningful minutes. It’s easy to feel that way in October when the season hasn’t started. But what if when the games start coming one after another, and the calendar flips to 2020 and Poirier finds himself buried on the bench? Barring an injury or two (which is more likely than not at some point), Poirier isn’t going to play much this season. And even if healthy, he still might not get much court time if head coach Brad Stevens leans on his more skilled (and undersized) players, which is very possible.  Poirier has shown some of the skills that Boston likes in a big man for sure. But the way this team is built coupled with the players ahead of him on the depth chart, it's hard to envision the 26-year-old will work his way into being anything more than a spot-duty player whose minutes and opportunities to play will fluctuate all season. 

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Should Kanter start or come off the Celtics bench?

Should Kanter start or come off the Celtics bench?

BOSTON -- Enes Kanter is easily the most accomplished big man among the consortium of bigs the Celtics collected over the summer. 

And while his role will be an important one, there are plenty of indicators pointing towards Kanter beginning the season as a key performer coming off the Celtics bench. 

The 6-foot-11 center came off the bench in all three of his preseason appearances  Kanter averaged 17.2 minutes, 6.3 points and 6.3 rebounds, along with shooting 53.3 percent from the field in the three games. 

From the time Kanter signed with Boston, the Celtics have made no secret about him playing a significant role as a scorer in the low post. 

“He just knows how to score around the basket,” Kemba Walker told NBC Sports Boston. “As long as I’ve been in the league, that’s what Enes does; he’s a scorer, for sure.”

His strength and Boston’s need for more scoring at the rim led to many assuming he would be the starting center. 

But coach Brad Stevens has hinted on multiple occasions that he sees Kanter being most useful coming off the bench - something Kanter says he’s on board with, if that’s what Stevens wants to do. 

“Throughout my career, I play as a starter and as a player coming off the bench,” Kanter told NBC Sports Boston. “I’m OK either way.”

The eight-year veteran has appeared in 583 regular-season games, with 216 of those as a starter. 

That’s why the idea of starting or being a key reserve doesn’t change anything for him as far as how he approaches games. 

“If we’re winning, everything is cool,” Kanter said. “I know where coach is going. Obviously, first unit everybody can score. With me and [Marcus] Smart with the second unit, we can come in and … we have another level to go to.”

According to Hoopsstats.com, the Celtics averaged 38.4 bench points last season, which ranked 10th in the NBA. 

With Terry Rozier in Charlotte via sign-and-trade, Marcus Morris in New York and Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward back in the Celtics’ starting lineup, Boston’s second unit will look dramatically different than a year ago. 

Kanter coming off the bench provides the Celtics with a legit, proven scorer with the second unit with career averages of 11.7 points and 7.6 rebounds while shooting 54.1 percent from the field.

Starting or not, the focus for Kanter remains the same - make an impact as soon as he can once he enters the game. 

Achieving that becomes easier if there’s a heightened level of comfort with his teammates. It's something Kanter has made a priority in his first training camp with the Celtics. 

“We know how to score the ball, how to play basketball,” Kanter said. “For the preseason the most important thing for us is to build that chemistry. Whenever we go out there, we’re trying to communicate, we’re trying to trust each other and try to get used to playing with each other. 

Kanter added, “That’s the most important thing. Off the court is so important. That’s going to make us better teammates, better friends. So, right now, all I care about what’s going on off the court. Once we get in there, we’ll be fine.”

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