Celtics go into season with support for the foundation

602082.jpg

Celtics go into season with support for the foundation

WALTHAM For the Celtics, Step 1 of constructing the 2012-13 roster was simple: get Kevin Garnett back.

Step 2? Figure out a way to put all the pieces in place after that.

Taking a look at the team on paper, you could say Celtics GM Danny Ainge passed with flying colors.

Garnett agreed to return the day of free agency, and Ainge was already on to the next one.

Jason Terry joined. Brandon Bass re-signed. Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox returned. Courtney Lee came over in a trade. Oh, and don't forget the two rookies, Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo.

Not too shabby, eh? The Celtics hope that they have enough depth to soldier through whatever injuries arise throughout the course of the season as they were forced to do last season. They will already be without Avery Bradley to start the year, but the acquisitions of Terry and Lee will soften the blow.

"Every year we try to build depth," Ainge said. "Last year we did have a lot of injuries a lot of injuries to our young guys, which was a little bit surprising. I was amazed at how our resiliency got us through the year and this deep into the playoffs. It's a credit to Doc and the players, particularly, KG, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen. But yeah, we want to not have injuries, and we think our depth is much better this year."

Some think that this is the deepest Celtics team since Garnett arrived for the 2007-08 season. They could be right. Jason Terry provides the scoring off the bench that Celtics have lacked. Lee is good enough to (and will at first) start on any team, and will have plenty of open looks. Green will benefit greatly by getting actual practice with his team, and not being thrown into the mix midway through the season. And don't forget Wilcox, who was coming into his own just before his season abruptly ended.

Somehow, someway, the Celtics made it all work financially.

"This past year was pretty hectic, Ainge said. "Starting with the lockout and going late in the season, the draft coming up with three draft picks, and free agency starting up right after that. Some of the uncertainty of the future of KG and just knowing which way we were headed. And then having to fill so many different places with different resources. So I think it was a very challenging summer, yeah. A lot of work went in. Assistant GM's Mike Zarren and Ryan McDonough in particular, they did a great job, and Austin Ainge, those guys were great. They worked relentless hours."

Doc Rivers is forever grateful. Stuck with mediocre to bad teams for the beginning of his Celtics coaching career, Rivers has been given plenty of tools over the last five seasons to keep the machine running.

"First of all I want to say Danny and the staff did an amazing job," Rivers said. "When you are under the restrictions that we were under, if you had told me we would have ended up with what we would have ended up with, I'd thought that would never happen. A lot of things had to happen for us."

A lot things did happen for the Celtics over the summer. Now it's on them to make things happen over the winter.

"I just really like our team, I like our team on paper," Rivers said. "Now we have to turn it into a team."

Sullinger on Celtics: 'I watch from a distance, I support from a distance'

Sullinger on Celtics: 'I watch from a distance, I support from a distance'

BOSTON – The trip to the TD Garden is one that Jared Sullinger has made many times but never like this. 

The former Celtic was back in town with his new team, the Toronto Raptors who signed him to a one-year, $5.6 million deal after the Celtics rescinded their qualifying offer to him and thus made him an unrestricted free agent. 

“I had a feeling it was going to go that way once they signed big Al (Horford), that they were going to let me go,” Sullinger said prior to Friday’s game.  “We were prepared for it. It is what it is. I’m happy these guys are doing well.”

And he hopes to say the same for himself sometime in the future after undergoing surgery to have a screw inserted in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot – the same foot he had season-ending surgery on during the 2014-2015 season with the Celtics. 

There’s no specific timetable as to when he’ll be back on the floor, and Sullinger is cool with that plan. 

“I don’t know. They’re hiding the protocol from me so I won’t rush; we’ll see,” said Sullinger who is still in a walking boot. 

The 6-foot-9 forward played well in the preseason and solidified himself as the team’s starting power forward. 

Now that he’s out with another injury, he’ll have to once again try and prove himself either later this season when he returns, or this summer when he becomes a free agent again.

For now, Sullinger is happy to be back in town, seeing lots of familiar faces, friends and ex-teammates that he says he still keeps in close contact with. 

“Some of these guys I considered like brothers to me,” Sullinger said. “IT (Isaiah Thomas), Jae Crowder to name a few. So I watch from a distance, I support from a distance. They’re playing well.”

In addition to his former teammates, the lines of communication remained open between him and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens as well. 

Stevens said the two exchanged text messages right before he had foot surgery, and afterwards. 

“Obviously, everyone here wishes a speedy recovery and hopefully he gets back on the court soon,” Stevens said. 

Sullinger has been an effective player during his time in the NBA, with career averages of 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. 

But this will be the third time in his five NBA seasons that he will miss a significant amount of time on the court due to an injury or recovering from an injury. 

Stevens acknowledged that he feels for Sullinger who once again has to go through rehabilitation in order to get back on the floor.

“I like Jared a lot,” Stevens said. “He’s a heck of a player, he’s a really smart guy. Got a lot of respect for him and it stinks that he’s got to go through that but he’ll come back strong I’m sure.”

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics have no answer for Lowry

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics have no answer for Lowry

BOSTON — For most of Friday night’s game, the Boston Celtics played the kind of game that on most nights would result in a victory. 

But Toronto is one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference with talent, depth and an undeniable desire to win at all costs. 

One strong quarter by the Raptors was just enough to put away the Celtics, 101-94. 

And it came in the third when Toronto outscored Boston 33-18 which turned out to be the only quarter the Raptors (16-7) outscored the Celtics. 

“They got hot; made some tough shots,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “The tough shots kind of hurt us.”

The tough shots and a flawless 8-for-8 performance from the free throw line. 

While it’s a 48-minute game, there was no getting around the fact that it was Toronto’s dominance in the third that ultimately determined the game’s outcome. 

“If you look at it from our perspective it’s what went wrong; if you look at it from theirs, they ratcheted up the defense quite a bit (in the third quarter),” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “It was hard for us to break their … break their wall of defense.”

In the third quarter, Boston shot just 27.8 percent from the field, 30 percent (3-for-10) on 3’s and a woeful 5-for-10 from the free throw line. 

“We started making everything difficult for them and not letting them get that easy in and try to take advantage of that,” said Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Friday night’s game.

 

STARS

Kyle Lowry

The Celtics had no answer for the All-Star point guard who led all players with 34 points, 21 of which came in the second half. 

Avery Bradley

Bradley was the lone Celtics starter who seemed to be in a good shooting flow, tallying 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting which included five made 3’s. 

DeMar DeRozan

The Celtics made him work a lot harder than he usually does to score, but he still managed to tally 24 points – just four points below his season average – on 9-for-25 shooting.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

He made a few more turnovers than usual, but Horford still put together a relatively balanced performance. He had 19 points and seven rebounds with six assists and a blocked shot. 

Norman Powell

The X-factor in Friday’s outcome had to be Powell. A 5.8 points per game scorer this season, Powell had 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting along with a game-high five steals. 

 

DUDS

Jae Crowder

With Isaiah Thomas (right groin) out, the Celtics really needed its core starters to step up and have a productive night offensively. Crowder just didn’t have it going on Friday, scoring just seven points on 2-for-11 shooting which included a number of 3s that rimmed in and out on him.