After a month on the sidelines, Wilcox returns to practice

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After a month on the sidelines, Wilcox returns to practice

WALTHAM Chris Wilcox is back . . . sort of.

Sunday marks the first day Wilcox will be on the floor, expected to participate in practice.

While there's not expected to be a lot of contact, Wilcox and his injured right thumb will get enough work to see where he stands.

Although a Wilcox appearance in Monday night's game against Charlotte seems highly unlikely, the C's have not totally ruled him out for suiting up, either.

"I just have to get comfortable catching the ball, shooting the ball and different things like that," Wilcox said. "After that, I think things will be straight."

The 6-foot-10 big man has missed the last 12 games because of the injury, robbing the Celtics and Rajon Rondo of what has been one of Rondo's favorite targets for lob dunks.

Since Wilcox went down, Rondo has averaged 8.3 assists per game -- down from 12.5 prior to Wilcox getting hurt against Chicago on Dec. 18.

Even if he were to suit up for Monday's game against the Bobcats, Wilcox still isn't fully healed.

He is currently wearing a cast-like wrap surrounding the thumb area to help absorb some of the potential pain he might experience in a real game.

Even when the thumb injury fully heals, Wilcox will likely wear some type of protective covering.

His return to practice comes at a time when the Celtics seem to have found their stride, especially the play of their second unit.

Boston comes into Monday's game against Charlotte having won a season-high five straight, with the bench playing a pivotal role in that success.

"We're all kind of in the roles coach Doc Rivers envisioned for us to be in," guard Jason Terry told CSNNE.com. "Everybody is comfortable, have a better feel for what we need to do out there to be successful; we have an identity now."

It remains to be seen how Wilcox will fit in with this much-improved second unit of Boston, which trails Miami by just 5 12 games for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

As for Wilcox, it's unlikely that he will resume his role prior to the injury, which was to be the first big man off the bench in place of Kevin Garnett.

Boston has tried a couple of different approaches to filling the void left by Wilcox off the bench.

The C's have settled on having rookie Jared Sullinger enter the game for Garnett at about the 5:00 mark.

In this role, the C's bench has thrived while Sullinger has tallied a double-double in each of Boston's last two games.

Boston has also turned to Jason Collins who has seven starts this season.

"We need everybody on this roster to achieve what our main goal is," Terry said.

But if Wilcox is to find a way to get back in the rotation, it begins Sunday with practice.

"This is when you need practice time for guys who haven't been in the flow of things," said Garnett. "It's good to have him back. Today should be a very interesting and passionate day. It's good to have Chris back."

Fast-break points aren't necessarily a good thing for Celtics

Fast-break points aren't necessarily a good thing for Celtics

BOSTON – Conventional NBA wisdom tells you that getting out to score in transition is a good thing, usually serving as easy points scored, which is what every team wants, right?
 
But bundles of transition points have been nothing but trouble for the Celtics this season.
 
They are coming off a game against the New York Knicks in which they scored 22 fast-break points, which was their second-best showing this season. But the final score, a 117-106 loss, wasn’t all that unusual from what has happened this season when their transition game has generated a decent amount of scoring.
 
Boston has a 2-6 record this season when they score 16 or more fast-break points. On the nights when Boston’s fast-break offense generates 10 or fewer points?
 
They’re 11-5.
 
While there are several possible reasons why this is, here’s what you have to remember.
 
The Celtics are a ball-movement, 3-point shooting team.
 
Often that means they’ll pass up potential shots in transition, to instead work the ball around from one side of the floor to the other, until they get what they deem is the best shot to take (usually it’s a lightly contested to wide open 3-pointer).
 
The Celtics average 329.6 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.8). Not surprisingly, that has led to them ranking among the league’s leaders in assists (24.9, third in the NBA).
 
And that has led to Boston being ranked among the top-3 in several other key passing statistics, such as secondary assists (7.1, 2nd in the NBA); potential assists (49.5, 2nd); and assists points created (60.8, 3rd);
 
Here are a few more stats to crunch on, courtesy of CSN Associate Producer Andy Levine.
 
PAINT BY NUMBERS: When the Celtics score 40 percent or less of their points in the paint, they are 19-5 this season. When Boston gets 40 percent or more of its points in the paint, they are just 7-11.
 
BROWN IN THE FOURTH: Jaylen Brown has been among the better rookies this season, especially in the fourth quarter. Among rookies who played in at least 20 games in the fourth quarter, Brown is second in fourth quarter shooting at 54.9 percent. With those same standards, he’s sixth in shooting 3’s in the fourth at 38.5 percent.
 
CROWDER BOUNCES BACK: The past four games has seemingly brought out the best in Crowder. In that span, he has averaged 18.5 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 57 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range. Crowder’s 3-point shooting of late has elevated him to seventh in the league while connecting on 42.5 percent of his 3-point attempts (minimum 150 attempts).

OUCH! It has not been a smooth start for Evan Turner with his new team, the Portland Trail Blazers. This season, Turner’s plus/minus is -234, which is the fourth-worst plus/minus in the NBA.
 
 

Stevens: Bradley, Zeller, Jerebko out vs. Trail Blazers

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Stevens: Bradley, Zeller, Jerebko out vs. Trail Blazers

BOSTON – Before Brad Stevens addressed the media before the Celtics faced the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday afternoon, he had to take a moment to make sure he wouldn’t forget anyone who wasn’t able to play.
 
Yeah, the list was a pretty long one.
 
Tyler Zeller, Demetrius Jackson and Jonas Jerebko will not play tonight due to sickness. And Avery Bradley (right Achilles strain) will also be out with a timetable that’s starting to feel like it’ll be longer than anyone would want.
 
“I don’t anticipate Avery this week at all,” Stevens said. “He still has some soreness. Obviously we’re concerned about the long-term impact of a sore Achilles; what it means on that foot but also what it means when you compensate off it. But he’ll be back when he’s ready but I think he’s still a little bit away.”
 
Bradley, the team’s top on-the-ball defender and No. 2 scorer this season at 17.7 points per game, will be out for the sixth time in the Celtics’ last seven games because of the Achilles injury.
 
Replacing him in the starting lineup will be Marcus Smart whose status for tonight’s game wasn’t a sure thing.
 
On the Celtics’ pregame notes package, Smart was listed as probable with a sore right ankle injury. I asked Stevens about Smart’s status a few minutes ago, and he said the 6-foot-4 Smart will play tonight.
 
In his 15 starts this season, Smart has averaged 10.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 38.4 percent from the field and 31.7 percent on 3's - all of which are better than what he produces when coming off the bench.