Boston Celtics: Pregame

Pregame: Bradley (elbow) to play vs. Pacers

November, 7, 2014
BOSTON -- Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley is in the lineup for Friday's game against the Indiana Pacers.

Bradley sat out Thursday's practice after straining a muscle in his left elbow during Wednesday's loss to the Toronto Raptors.

"With the elbow and with the strain, supposedly, it’s a matter of pain tolerance and he feels a lot better today," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

That will allow Boston to keep its starting 5 intact and leaves the Celtics essentially full healthy entering Friday's game. The visiting Pacers? Well, that's another story.

Injury-decimated Indy will be without expected starter CJ Miles, who has a migraine. The Pacers will start Donald Sloan, Solomon Hill, Chris Copeland, Luis Scola, and Roy Hibbert.

Asked about the different-looking Pacers, Stevens deadpanned, "I’m pretty familiar with the Pacers; I’m from Indianapolis."

After detailing some of the lesser-known names, Stevens added, "These guys are good players and they’ve been part of an excellent atmosphere and team. They are going to play the right way and certainly not beat themselves."
BOSTON -- Jerryd Bayless makes the start in place of an injured Avery Bradley, but the Boston Celtics will otherwise maintain their starting 5 by surrounding him with Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Kris Humphries.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who has admitted to pondering lineup shuffles, sounded like he was going to stick with this current lineup for at least the next two games, even as some wonder if it's more prudent to lean on younger bigs like Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, who have paired well together off the bench recently.

"There’s good reason to [shuffle the lineup], and there's good reason not to, to be candid," said Stevens. "I like the fact that, right now, Sully and Kelly are primary options when they are playing with that second group. Sully’s coming in so quickly and playing almost the exact same number of minutes as when we start him. We may make changes after this weekend, but I just see day-to-day on that as well. And I feel like Hump and Bass have not had the best moments together in the last couple games, but they are not the only two on the court. It’s fair to remember that, and to assess that while you’re assessing everything else."

A couple other pregame notes:

• Bradley will miss at least two more games. Read more HERE.

• Despite the fact that the 76ers have lost 28 of their last 29 games, Stevens still found a way to praise them. "I just look at the two times we played them, and they beat us here and we barely beat them there," said Stevens. "The thing that I admire most about their team is how hard they are playing, how hard they are cutting. They are third, I think, in the NBA in forcing turnovers, which has been a problem for us at times this year. They are No. 1 in pace, which has been a problem for us when we are trying to transition defensively. It’s one of those deals where, you better bring your A-game, and people in this league recognize that. If you don’t, you’re getting beat no matter who is playing and, for us, we’ve had a couple of tough losses followed by a really bad performance. I think it’s important for us that we play well tonight."

Leon Powe, who was part of the pregame festivities at the Red Sox' home-opener on Friday, visited the Celtics' locker room before Friday's game and shared a moment with 2008 championship teammate Rajon Rondo.

• Despite his 04-04-14 Tweet hinting at a possible NBA debut in his hometown of Boston, Nerlens Noel is still not ready for game action. Asked if he still might play this season, Philly coach Brett Brown said: "I suppose. It’s probably the most asked question I get and it’s fair enough, especially here in Boston. There’s always a chance."


Pregame: Back to work for C's

March, 26, 2014
BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens took his place in front of the media circle before Wednesday's visit from the Toronto Raptors and there was an uncomfortably long pause before the first question arrived.

"Thanks coach!" one media member quipped from the back of the pack, the exchange typically reserved for the end of Stevens' confab.

The Celtics enjoyed four days off from game action leading up to Wednesday's tilt and -- players, coaches, and media members alike -- seemed ready for something to break that monotony. Stevens did think a couple days of practice were good for his team, particularly considering the lack of offday sessions in recent weeks.

"I think practices have been spirited in large part because it’s the same thing that we went back to in October: There’s not a lot of difference, up and down our roster, so there’s a lot of competitiveness in practice," said Stevens. "On any day, your second team can beat your first team and vice versa. That’s been a positive. Guys seem to like to compete in practice; guys seem to like to get after it. And I think that helps each and every individual. I think that keeps your practices pretty good even throughout the course of a long season."

The Celtics will stick with their recent starting 5 in Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Kris Humphries. Boston has lost six of its last seven.

"We need to make sure that hopefully we can build off [the recent practices] and get better," said Stevens. "I thought all 12 guys that were able to go through it, went through it. We maintained health and got a little work together on both ends of the floor, so that’s a positive couple days."


Pregame: Bradley starts; LeBron out

March, 19, 2014
BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics will have their preferred backcourt in place as both Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley are in the starting lineup -- a rarity in these parts in recent seasons due to injuries.

That duo joins Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries to comprise Boston's starting 5. The Celtics will catch a bit of a break as LeBron James will sit out with back spasms. Greg Oden (rest) is also inactive for Miami, while Dwyane Wade is back after sitting out Tuesday's win in Cleveland due to sore knees.

That means Miami is likely to trot out a starting 5 of Wade, Mario Chalmers, Michael Beasley, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem.

The Heat are just 5-5 in their last 10, but Celtics coach Brad Stevens was still heavy in his praise -- particularly of James before he learned he was scratched.

"Miami’s really good," said Stevens. "They are one of the contenders. As we all know, they are the defending two-time champs, so they get the first right of refusal on being the contender, right? They are obviously going through -- like everybody else is -- an injury bug and guys missing games, those type of things. They still have what I think is the best player in the world and a guy that can turn it up to a level that very few people who have ever played this game can. I thought we played great the first two times we played them and we would have to play great again tonight [to be competitive]."

James might have tipped his hand about his inactive status pregame while munching on a McFlurry inside the Heat locker room.

Old friend Ray Allen held court with reporters and said it's still special for him to come back to TD Garden. Asked about the potential for his number to be retired here, Allen suggested it would be a great honor, but that he doesn't think about it much.


Pregame: Bradley starts vs. Mavs

March, 17, 2014
Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley rejoins the starting lineup for Monday's visit to the Dallas Mavericks.

Bradley, with two games under his belt since returning from a right ankle sprain, elevates back to the starting five while subbing for Rajon Rondo, who is getting planned rest on the second night of a back-to-back.

Bradley is expected to take over his natural shooting guard position, while Jerryd Bayless, who has started in Bradley's place recently, will shuffle over to point guard.

Rondo is sitting out the tail end of a back-to-back for the sixth time since returning in mid-January. Celtics coach Brad Stevens has said he believes Rondo is likely to sit out the remaining second games of back-to-backs for the remainder of the season.


Pregame: Bradley returns in reserve role

March, 14, 2014
BOSTON -- Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley will come off the bench in his return to game action on Friday night.

Bradley, who has missed 19 of the last 22 games due to a right ankle sprain, will be eased back given that he hasn't gone through a live practice. Bradley hasn't played since Feb. 9 and has missed 13 straight games.

"[Bradley is] moving pretty well," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "He felt really good, re-conferred with Dr. McKeon today and was giving the green light to go ahead. He’s not going to start for us and part of that is bringing him back easy from a minutes standpoint. I found that, when we first brought Rondo back and with that minute limitation, it was hard to manage that."

Bradley said he's anxious to return to game action, but that his ankle feels better.

"[The ankle] feels good. It’s been feeling good for the last few weeks," said Bradley. "We’ve just been taking our time, just making sure all the scar tissue is healing up so I don’t go out there and have a little accident and a little setback. But it feels amazing. When I injured it like a month ago, I couldn’t walk at all. But now I feel great."

The Celtics will stick with their recent starting 5 of Rajon Rondo, Jerryd Bayless, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Kris Humphries. With Bradley now available, Boston has the luxury of bringing Bradley, Jared Sullinger, and Kelly Olynyk off the bench, adding depth they've missed for much of the season due to health woes.

A lot of familiar faces in the visitor's locker room with the Phoenix Suns, including Shavlik Randolph.

Asked if he was disappointed that the Celtics elected to release him this summer before his contract became guaranteed, Randolph admitted it was a tough process. He landed back in China, where a shoulder injury led to headaches with his overseas squad.

"I was really disappointed because I was expecting to be back here," admitted Randolph. "I was going through my summer, my offseason, preparing like I was going to be back here and what my role was going to be on this team. From all the communication we had, I think both sides -- I think they thought I was going to be back here. But I know this is a business, things happened and didn’t happen the way that they expected them to. And when it came time for them to pick up my option or let it go, I think some things happened, didn’t transpire the way they thought and they couldn’t, at that time, commit to my contract. It was pretty disappointing and shocking, but you have to move on, gotta keep doing what you got to do."


BOSTON -- Boston Celtics undrafted rookie point guard Phil Pressey will make his seventh start of the season while Rajon Rondo gets planned rest on the second night of a back-to-back during Wednesday's visit from the New York Knicks.

Pressey will start alongside the rest of Boston's recent starting 5 in Jerryd Bayless, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Kris Humphries. Short on ball-handlers, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he debated starting Chris Johnson or Chris Babb alongside Bayless in the backcourt, but stuck with the typical plan of leaning on Pressey.

"I’ll get Jerryd or Phil out pretty early and rotate those guys most of the rest of the half," said Stevens. "I think, if we have to, Johnson or Babb can handle [ball-handling duties] for a couple of minutes, but that would not be ideal."

Stevens stressed that he doesn't think too much about what the team loses without Rondo on the court.

"This is part of just being on your toes and taking a challenge, for your guys and for your staff," said Stevens. "You focus on who you have and you coach them. That’s what you try to do. You don’t spend any time focusing on who’s not available. I think that’s really the only way to go about it. We’ve got 10 healthy bodies and [the Knicks have] injuries, too. It’s whoever plays best out on the floor that’ll ultimately win, so our goal is to help our 10 guys play the best they can."

Rondo has sat out the second game of five back-to-backs since returning on Jan. 17 and he's often talked with Stevens and the team's training staff about how his body feels the night after games.

"If I was ready, I would play," Rondo said earlier this week. "It’s a combination of things that bother me in the lower part of my body -- my calves, my Achilles and then my knees," said Rondo. "It’s just a part of those three that are affecting me after games that, the next day, I need to rest."

Added Rondo: "I’m still pretty sore when I wake up. My Achilles bothers me the most when I get out of the bed. Throughout the day, it gets better, but I still don’t want to try to overdo it and [then] something else happens because of that."

Is Rondo surprised he's still sore at this stage of his return?

"It’s an NBA season. It’s tough," he said. "I’m up to 34-35 minutes per night now. I’m doing the right procedures. I’m taking the massage. I’m icing after the games. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do. It’s just, I have to listen to my body."

Rondo played a season-high 40:45 in Tuesday's loss to the Indiana Pacers, including the entire second half knowing he wouldn't be available for Wednesday's game.


Pregame: Rondo, Smith chat reunion

March, 9, 2014
BOSTON -- A trio of interesting tidbits from pregame before the Boston Celtics host the Detroit Pistons at TD Garden:

SMITH + RONDO TALK REUNION? Calling Rajon Rondo his best friend, Detroit forward Josh Smith admitted the two former high school roommates have talked about joining forces in the NBA. "The conversation comes up," said Smith. "We always tell each other how surreal a moment that would be for us to be able to reconnect again in that realm. With the different free agencies that we both have, it can be far-fetched, but it could be possible too, at the same time." Smith was asked if he thought it might happen last offseason before he signed a four-year, $54 million contract with Detroit. "I thought it could’ve been a possibility, but you know, I’m in Detroit," said Smith. "I’m happy I’m here. He’s still [in Boston]. He’s still creating his market as a Celtic."

RONDO LIKELY OUT WEDNESDAY: The Celtics have a back-to-back starting Tuesday in Indiana. Playing three games in four nights, Stevens guessed that Rondo would sit out the second night of that tandem when the New York Knicks visit TD Garden. "It’s really more how he feels the day after a game," said Stevens. "So like [Saturday] I asked him, 'Are you sore, are you tried, how do you feel?' And he’s still a little bit sore the day after games."

WALLACE HANGING AROUND: Gerald Wallace, who underwent season-ending knee and ankle surgery on Tuesday, visited TD Garden. He said he plans to stay in the area through the end of the season (maybe catch a Red Sox game or two along the way) before spending the summer in his native Alabama. His target date to be back at full speed? "Training camp," said Wallace. "That’s my goal right now, so I’m not rushing it. ... Hopefully by training camp I won’t have any worries."

The Celtics are sticking with their recent starting 5 of Rajon Rondo, Jerryd Bayless, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Kris Humphries for Sunday's visit from the Detroit Pistons.


Pregame: Stevens focused on improvement

March, 7, 2014
BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens apologized, but when asked to assess the summer swap between his team and the Brooklyn Nets, and project the value of the three first-round picks the Celtics secured, Stevens said he couldn't look much beyond Friday's visit from Brooklyn.

"That’s all stuff down the road," Stevens said of the draft picks. "And I don’t know that I would really know exactly how to answer that. Because it’s a little bit out of my view right now, as far as what’s really important for us right now today. Hard to tell. I think we’ll be able to better assess that down the road. But right now, we’re trying to play better than we did Wednesday night [when Boston lost by 20 to the Golden State Warriors]. We were playing a good team and, they’ll do that to you if you don’t play well, But our B game is not good enough against teams of that caliber."

The Celtics will stick with their recent starting 5 featuring Rajon Rondo, Jerryd Bayless, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Kris Humphries. The Nets counter with Deron Williams, Shaun Livingston, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, and Mason Plumlee.

Asked about the job that Pierce has done playing the power forward spot in smaller lineups, Stevens said the idea that the former Boston captain is "undersized" is false.

"I don’t really look at it as a position," he said. "[Pierce is] a player. And great players can play multiple positions a lot of times. They certainly can guard multiple positions. The league is such that, if you can find a 3 man that you can move to the 4, because of his size, body, and intelligence, then that’s a great benefit. You see that when San Antonio goes small with a [Boris] Diaw, you see that when the Heat go small with LeBron [James]. You see it across the league. And, obviously, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they’ve hit their stride by playing that way because we say he’s undersized -- it’s not really undersized. He’s bigger than our 4s, for the most part. And we have a few of them. He’s a big strong guy down there and he can hold his own on the block, and then he can really stretch you on offense."


Pregame: Olynyk returns vs. Warriors

March, 5, 2014
BOSTON -- Boston Celtics rookie Kelly Olynyk is available for Wednesday's visit from the Golden State Warriors after missing the last two games with a sprained big toe on his left foot.

Olynyk suffered -- and further aggravated -- the toe injury on the team's four-game West Coast trip after the All-Star break. The team initially feared the toe was broken, but breathed a sigh of relief to find out it was a sprain. Olynyk spent last week in a walking boot and returned to practice Tuesday.

"He went through practice [Tuesday] -- we practiced hard -- and he was reevaluated [Wednesday] morning and everything was great," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "I got the thumbs up and, after I get the thumbs up, I’m not asking many questions."

With Olynyk back, the injury-plagued Celtics have 11 available bodies.

The Celtics will stick with their recent starting five of Rajon Rondo, Jerryd Bayless, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries. Both Olynyk and Jared Sullinger, who returned Saturday from a concussion, will come off the bench.

Starting shooting guard Avery Bradley, who has missed 14 of the team's past 17 games, received an MRI on his right ankle on Wednesday as part of a reevaluation, but declined to chat with reporters before the game. Stevens said he had no further update on Bradley's condition, but had noted Tuesday that Bradley expressed to him that he was feeling better and progressing toward a return.

Jordan Crawford is back in Boston for the first time since being traded to the Warriors in January as part of a three-team swap.

Reflecting on his time here, Crawford noted, "It was home for a minute. The first time I got to play a lot of minutes. I got to have ups, I had downs, and how you adjust to playing bad, how to get back. So it was a lot of positives."

Asked if this was the first stop on his NBA journey where a team showed belief in him, Crawford said, "Yeah, that’s probably the hardest part of leaving because it really did feel like home a little bit, even though I was only here for less than a year."


Pregame: Sullinger's back vs. Pacers

March, 1, 2014
BOSTON -- After missing the past three games due to a mild concussion, Boston Celtics second-year center Jared Sullinger returns to game action on Saturday night against the Indiana Pacers.

Sullinger will come off the bench in his return. The Celtics will stick with their starting 5 from Wednesday's win over the Atlanta Hawks in Rajon Rondo, Jerryd Bayless, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries.

The Celtics will be without Gerald Wallace (knee), Kelly Olynyk (toe), Avery Bradley (ankle) and Vitor Faverani (knee).

"Olynyk is pretty darn close to returning, it looks like," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "I don’t want to say for sure Wednesday [against Golden State], but that’s more likely than not. Bradley, again, like I said [Friday], will be re-evaluated at the end of this upcoming week. ... [Team doctors] are continuing to try to figure [Faverani's knee] out. And they may end up doing a light scope for something like that. But that has not been determined yet."

A recent MRI revealed that Wallace has a torn meniscus and he said he'll undergo season-ending surgery as early as Tuesday.

"I'm very disappointed, just the simple fact that the injury, not knowing how long I’ve been playing with it and what was going on," said Wallace. "It was just a pain that kinda felt different in my knee. I'm disappointed to end my season this way, just when it felt like I was starting to play at a pretty high level."

For the Pacers, George Hill is out with a bruised left shoulder. C.J. Watson will start in his place.


Pregame: 'Unique' lineup for C's

February, 26, 2014
BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics, beset by injuries, are going with what coach Brad Stevens termed a "unique" look during Wednesday's visit from the Atlanta Hawks.

The Celtics will start Rajon Rondo, Jerryd Bayless, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries.

Gerald Wallace, a starter in recent games for injured Avery Bradley, shuffles to a reserve role because short-handed Boston plans to utilize him as a reserve forward.

The Celtics are without Bradley (ankle), Jared Sullinger (concussion), Vitor Faverani (knee) and Kelly Olynyk (toe). Add in the excused Keith Bogans and Boston has only nine available bodies for Wednesday's game.

Sullinger and Olynyk could be back as early as Saturday's visit from the Indiana Pacers, while Bradley's return remains uncertain. Faverani will undergo another round of testing on his ailing knee.


Pregame: Different look to rivalry

February, 21, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- With the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers entering Friday's game with the worst combined winning percentage in matchup history, Celtics first-year head coach Brad Stevens was asked if the two teams' struggles -- along with all the fresh faces to the rivalry -- takes anything away from the meeting.

"Well, a lot of us in the locker room have never been a part of those [rivalry] games, right? But I think everybody gets it and I think that everybody, at different times throughout their lives, has watched it in awe," said Stevens. "Certainly, I would be an example of that when you think of the fact that, when you were a kid in the '80s, this was what was on TV. It felt like Boston and LA were playing every Sunday, I don’t think that’s probably true, but maybe it was. But it was the only game, I felt like, that ever got on TV. Those were the games we watched. That’s special to think back about those times and hopefully both of us are not where we are long."

Added Stevens: "Obviously, neither of us are as good as we want to be. I think that’s obvious. And I think, certainly, [the Lakers have] been hit harder than anybody else in the league with injuries. And really have done a great job through it, in my opinion. When they came to our place [last month], I thought they played so well together. [Lakers coach Mike] D’Antoni’s system has always been one that skilled guys thrive in. So you’ve got a guy, Ryan Kelly is a great example, you kinda plug in and away he goes. Kendall Marshall’s got great savvy out on the floor -- away he goes, just getting plugged into that. Take [Pau] Gasol off the court for them, it’s a little bit more difficult as we’ve seen the last couple of weeks. But Gasol is back and Gasol was really the difference-maker in our game. Not only when he scored, but when he created for others with the amount of attention we gave to him."


Pregame: Hornacek says C's play hard

February, 19, 2014
PHOENIX -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens took what was probably just an unintentional dramatic pause when asked before Wednesday's game against the Phoenix Suns if everybody on his roster was available.

At a time of year when players are sometimes held out to prevent injuries that could derail a pending trade, Stevens soon detailed how the only players out were Avery Bradley (ankle) and Vitor Faverani (knee), neither of whom made the trip west with the team. The other 11 healthy bodies with Boston on this trip are available.

Gerald Wallace gets another start in place of Bradley, playing alongside Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger.

Asked for his take on Boston's overhauled roster, Suns first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek noted, "I think they are a typical Boston team. They are going to play hard. They are similar to us in that they have a lot of young guys that have gotten an opportunity to play and they are making the most of it. They have some guys that are playing well and now Rondo is back playing. It's going to be a tough battle for us. These guys are going to play hard and they are going to make everything tough on us. I think tonight, we usually have the advantage maybe with the effort level against teams. Tonight, will be an even game there because they do play hard. It will come down to execution and who makes those stops."

Stevens volleyed that praise back at Hornacek and the overachieving Suns.

"They've done a great job of putting their best foot with their skill," said Stevens. "They play nine people with their rotation, sometimes [rookie Alex] Len becomes the 10th, but of those nine, seven shoot it great and the other two [Plumlee and Ish Smith] are dynamite to the rim. ... They spread you, they especially spread your bigs. They have multiple times in games where they play Markieff [Morris] or Channing [Frye] together at the 4-5 or Marcus [Morris] and Channing together and now you have two guys that shoot behind the 3 that bigs aren't used to getting out to. It really puts you in a tough spot. Then they complement each other so well. What makes that all go really well, in my opinion, is those threats at the rim."

The Suns have a few familiar faces in their locker room, including Gerald Green (now starting and blossoming in Phoenix), Leandro Barbosa (thriving as a backup after tearing his ACL in Boston last season), and Dionte Christmas (the former summer league sensation).


Pregame: Rondo, Bass start vs. Spurs

February, 12, 2014
BOSTON -- Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo is back in the starting lineup after taking Monday off as a precaution on the second night of a back-to-back. The Celtics also will have Brandon Bass with the starting unit after he suffered a corneal abrasion during Monday's win in Milwaukee.

Avery Bradley is out indefinitely with a second sprain in his right ankle, and Gerald Wallace will start in his place.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens admitted he gave some consideration to starting Chris Johnson at shooting guard given the energy burst he's given the team recently, but likes the flexibility of pairing Wallace with starting swingman Jeff Green.

"I actually like some of the flexibility defensively that the Jeff-Gerald lineup gives us," Stevens said. "I also think, in the starts, specifically in the last couple of weeks, I think Gerald's really given us great minutes. It would be between Gerald and Chris, and I think Gerald gives us a lot of flexibility on defense and they’ve got to match a smaller guard up with either Jeff or Gerald and then we can leave one of those guys in so we are regular-sized at the 3, then bring Chris in for whoever."

The Spurs are battling injuries and ailments of their own, but Stevens said it won't slow them.

"First of all, I think some of the most inspiring basketball that I’ve ever watched is when they don’t have all their players," Stevens said. "Some of the most inspiring basketball I’ve ever watched is when they do have all their players. They are one of the very few elite teams in the league. They move the ball. They move bodies. They know their system inside and out.

"They can plug into those spots and, on any given night, that person can have 20 or 25 points. The other night in Charlotte, they are struggling early on, and Patty Mills comes off the bench and goes for 32. They are running actions for him at the end that other teams are running for All-Stars. That’s the way they are. They have a tremendous, tremendous system. And I have nothing but the most respect for them. They are basketball in the purest form on both ends of the court."




Isaiah Thomas
21.8 5.8 0.8 28.0
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsI. Thomas 5.8
StealsM. Smart 1.3
BlocksT. Zeller 0.7