Collins keeping himself ready to go for Celtics

917167.jpg

Collins keeping himself ready to go for Celtics

BOSTON With Chris Wilcox (back) out indefinitely and Darko Milicic nursing a right wrist injury for at least another game, it's time for the Boston Celtics to put their big man insurance policy to use.

And the name of that policy is Jason Collins.

The veteran big man saw his most extensive action of the preseason in Boston's 97-96 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

He played 15 minutes and tallied a preseason-high five points.

When Collins signed on with the C's, he knew his chances to play would be few and far between.

But that has no impact on his approach to every game.

"I'm a professional," he said. "I know, always stay ready. Even going into the last three minutes of a game, it doesn't matter. My job as a professional is always be ready. And when your name is called, be ready."

Having been in the NBA in what will be his 12th NBA season, the C's are familiar with what Collins can and cannot do.

"When he comes out there he's going to rebound, he's going to set picks," said Celtics assistant Armond Hill. "He's a guy you don't have to call anything for, but he's going to do all the little things. He's going to do all the dirty work, really. So he's valuable."

Boston's Paul Pierce said his former teammate and current Comcast SportsNet analyst Brian Scalabrine used to talk about Collins in glowing terms when Scalabrine and Collins were teammates in New Jersey.

"Scal always bragged about him," Pierce said. "He thought Collins was the best post defender in the NBA. He's a solid veteran. He's not going to be asked to play big minutes for us, but he's a true professional. He's in the gym, staying ready. He's in the gym; he's keeping his body in shape. He's going to be called upon at some point in the season, some big minutes for us. We know he can be a solid contributor for us."

It was certainly that way in Atlanta last season. After spending the bulk of the season sidelined, injures force the Hawks to put him in the starting lineup in the playoffs against Boston.

"It's just one of those things where you never know what's going to happen," Collins said. "The team, through the course of regular season, playoffs . . . your name might be called. When it is, you have to go out there and make plays.

Collins' ability to help out when called upon is in part because of his basketball wisdom, the kind that comes after having spent more than a decade in the NBA.

And it's clear to Collins that having a relatively high basketball IQ seems to be the norm -- and not the exception -- in Boston.

"This is the highest basketball IQ team that I've ever been a part of," Collins said. "Usually, there's maybe one or two. But we have a lot of guys on this team who have high basketball IQs."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics host the Hornets at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game Preview: C's, Hornets heading in opposite directions

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

- Live Extra FAQ: All your questions answered

- Latest on the Celtics: All of the most recent news and notes

- Talk about the game via social media on CSN's Pulse, presented by Ford

Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

BOSTON -- The last time Boston saw the Charlotte Hornets last month, both teams were streaking in the wrong direction with each coming in having lost three in a row.

Both come into tonight’s game streaking, although in two very different directions.

Boston (25-15) has won 12 of its last 15 games to firmly establish itself as the third-best team in the East behind Cleveland and Toronto. Meanwhile the Hornets (20-20) are on the cusp of falling below .500 for the first time this season after losing their last four games.

Still, Celtics coach Brad Stevens has seen enough of this Hornets team to know that a win tonight won’t come easily.

“This is a good team,” Stevens said. “We all know Charlotte. They don’t beat themselves. We’ve had to play really well against those guys. This is going to be a tough one, as we all know.”

Figuring out why these two teams are trending in opposite directions isn’t all that complicated.

For the Celtics, their success of late has hinged heavily on their ability to make 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s problems have had a lot to do with a tough slate of road games (all four of their recent losses were on the road) and their inability to make shots which has been an issue in some form for them all season regardless of the opponent.

Look at the last four games, all of which the Hornets lost while the Celtics won three of their four games in that span.

The Hornets rank 21st in scoring with a 101.5 points per game average while the Celtics average 110.8 points which ranks 8th in the league.

Charlotte ranks dead-last in the league the last four games when it comes to shooting the ball (40.5 percent), while Boston comes in 18th at 46.0 percent.

But it’s the 3-point shot and its impact on having an effective field goal percentage, that really separates these two.

Boston has averaged a league-best 15.3 made 3-pointers in the last four games while the Hornets and their 9.8 made 3’s ranks 20th.

And as far as its impact on eFG%, Boston comes in with the eighth-best eFG% in the league (54.8 percent) while the Hornets next-to-last in the NBA with an eFG% of .462.

So what does that mean tonight?

Boston will look to continue being fueled offensively by good ball movement and attacking the rim which in turn should result in lots of good looks from 3-point range which is clearly a strength of this team.

Charlotte will search for other sources of offense besides former UConn star Kemba Walker who is on the short list of candidates for a spot on this year’s Eastern Conference all-star roster.

As was the case in Charlotte’s 102-93 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, an off-night shooting for Walker (17 points, 7-for-23 shooting with three assists) left the Hornets extremely vulnerable to defeat. Similar struggles tonight will provide a similar ending for Charlotte which would allow both teams to continue streaking along … something the Celtics wouldn’t mind at all.