Saturday, March 8, 2014
Notebook: C's can't give this one away
By Chris Forsberg
BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics turned the ball over a season-high 28 times on Friday night against the Brooklyn Nets. And, defying all logic, they never trailed en route to a 91-84 triumph at TD Garden.
The Celtics entered Friday's tilt 0-6 in games in which they committed 19 turnovers or more. They gave it away 15 times in the second half alone against the Nets, which aided the visitors in rallying within a bucket in the third quarter. But Boston simply couldn't give this game away.
"They were nice enough to put 25 [individual turnovers] on my box sheet here; I think it was a special box score for the coach," quipped Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
But how were the Celtics able to overcome that many giveaways? Inside the team's locker room, Jared Sullinger offered, "I don’t know how you’re going to win turning the ball over so many times, honestly. Maybe we were just lucky that [the Nets] had a bad shooting night."
Added rookie Kelly Olynyk, "I don’t know. I guess when they go 0-for-17 in the first half from [3-point range], it helps out."
That is truly the only explanation. The Nets misfired on 26 triples for the night and shot a mere 36.3 percent from the field (29-for-80) overall. Even though Boston seemed to be kicking the ball into the crowd (or throwing it off a referee) for much of the game, it still couldn't stop the Celtics from building as much as an 18-point, third-quarter lead.
Read on for more notes, including an update on Avery Bradley's health, praise for Chris Babb and Phil Pressey, and why you can't go under screens on Rajon Rondo.
Bradley takes step forward: Bradley, who has missed 16 of the team's past 19 games due to an injured right ankle, underwent an MRI earlier this week as part of a re-evaluation and has been cleared to increase his basketball activities.
"Avery has increased his load, as far as how much weight-bearing he can put on [the ankle]," Stevens said. "He probably won’t play early next week but has a chance beyond that. Hopefully, we get him back on the court sooner rather than later. I don’t know when that will be, but, again, hopefully sooner rather than later."
Bradley suffered a severe ankle sprain in Miami in late January and sat out five games before attempting to return. He aggravated the ankle injury and spent much of February on the shelf. Stevens seems confident Bradley can get back on the floor soon and use the final games of the season to get back to the high level he was playing at before the injury.
"Avery is a young guy that played a lot for us before he got hurt, and he’ll play a lot when he gets back," Stevens said.
Clearing out the notebook after Friday's game:
- Praise for Babb: Babb, playing on a 10-day contract, chipped in six points over 14:34 and was plus-seven. Asked about the potential to keep Babb around after his deal expires after Sunday's game, Stevens noted, "The best compliment I can give him, it’s kind of like when I sat up here with Chris Johnson -- I hope like heck he’s back with us on Monday. He’s a perfect fit for what we need as far as, he’s not going to play 38 minutes a game, [but] he’s going to come in, get open shots, hopefully knock those open shots down, play off of other people and then be a feisty defender for us, and he really is an outstanding defender for a young guy. And I credit him and, certainly, the coaching he’s received in college and now, but he’s an outstanding defender as a team player and an individual."
- Can't go under on Rondo: Rondo made his first three 3-pointers of the game on Friday and forced Brooklyn to defend him out beyond the arc. "You can't really go under [screens] on him anymore," said Sullinger, who turned and knocked on the wood paneling in his locker as he continued. "I thought that knee injury was huge for him and his development of his jump shot. At the beginning of the year, he realized that he couldn’t get to the rim like he normally does -- until he gets used to playing -- and I thought he did a tremendous job coming into the season working on his jumper constantly every day. It’s really paying off for him now. Now he’s starting to become the Rondo that we all now, every day. He does the same things that he was doing last year, and, with him doing that -- on top of shooting the ball -- that’s a dangerous combination."
- Praise for Pressey: Pressey finished plus-15 over 13 minutes off the bench. He missed the only shot he took but had two assists and two steals. Asked about seeing Pressey in Boston's gym back when his father, Paul, was an assistant coach on Doc Rivers' staff, Paul Pierce joked, "I used to kick him out of the gym when he was a kid, him and little Austin Rivers. It’s good to see these guys growing up, playing in the league. Maybe I had an influence on them, maybe not, maybe so. It’s fun, just see guys like him grow from where you knew them."