Celtics bench shows mettle to beat Raptors, 76-75


Celtics bench shows mettle to beat Raptors, 76-75

TORONTO The Boston Celtics like their bench.

After seeing them outlast the Toronto Raptor's starters down the stretch, now we all know why.

The C's squeaked out a 76-75 preseason win over the Raptors, a game whose outcome wasn't nearly as impressive as the way it came about.

Rookie center Greg Stiemsma tipped in his own miss with 12.6 seconds to play for the victory. It was fitting that the game was decided by one of the Celtics' rookies when you consider all four of them were on the floor in the game's final seconds while the Raptors played three starters.

"You couldn't ask for a better situation," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "I could see the game getting closer with about seven minutes, you could see they were making a run and I thought this was a great time to throw the young guys in and see if they could hold the lead and withstand their rush. So it was a great experience for them."

Although Stiemsma's tip-in ultimately decided the game's outcome, it was the play of fellow rookie E'Twaun Moore that stood out. Drafted in the second round of last June's NBA draft, Moore came up with a couple of clutch baskets in the game's final 1:51 -- his only two baskets of the game.

"You can see why we like E'Twaun," Rivers said. "He wanted the ball, and he took it and made big shots."

The more you see him play, the more he plays at a pace that's atypical for most rookie guards. Moore credits his comfort level to being in college for four years and spending some time in Italy during the NBA lockout.

"Basketball is basketball, no matter where it's played," he said. "That's how I feel when I'm out there on the court."

It was the first game for the Celtics since the team announced that Jeff Green would be out for the entire 2011-2012 NBA season. Green will have surgery to repair an aeortic anureism on Jan. 9.

"Jeff is just . . . it hits home because it is your little brother, it is your guy," said Boston's Kevin Garnett, who had nine points and seven rebounds while playing just over 24 minutes. "I'm just glad that it was fortunate to be caught early, and he can go ahead with his life and make some adjustments to that. I just hope everything works out for him."

Boston was led by Ray Allen's 12 points and Marquis Daniels who chipped in with 11. Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox were active off the bench, scoring nine and seven points, respectively. Toronto's Andrea Bargnani led all scorers with 14 points on 4-for-14 shooting.

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a CSNNE.com report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”