Garnett: 'We're a team that will fight'


Garnett: 'We're a team that will fight'

Two months after Doc Rivers called the Boston Celtics a "soft team," the words are still fresh on Kevin Garnett's mind.

Rivers made the comment following the Celtics altercation with the Brooklyn Nets in late November, a scuffle which resulted in a suspension for Rajon Rondo and fines for Garnett and Gerald Wallace.

Now the Celtics are facing adversity far greater than heated exchanges with Kris Humphries -- season-ending injuries to both Rondo (ACL) and Jared Sullinger (lumbar disc). Garnett sees them proving Rivers' earlier comments wrong.

"Although Doc made his (expletive) comments about us being soft and (expletive), we're a team that will fight and we are a team who is very competitive and we're very prideful," he said. "When you lose pieces and you lose certain things about your team, you learn that you see the fight within each other and you just follow that. More than anything, I think we're just being competitive out here, sharing the basketball, and playing."

The Celtics have responded to their new challenges with a three-game winning streak. They beat the Miami Heat on Sunday without Rondo, dominated the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday after Sullinger left the game with back spasms, and topped the Orlando Magic on Friday down two of their key players.

With every obstacle, the Celtics are upping their roles and making contributions where needed.

Veterans Garnett and Paul Pierce immediately stepped up to lead their team. Pierce has averaged 15.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 7 assists in the last three games, well above his season average of 6.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. He posted a triple-double against the Heat and back-to-back double-doubles in the next two contests. Garnett is averaging 17.0 points and 10.0 rebounds (season average 14.9 points, 7.3 rebounds) since Sunday.

On Friday against the Magic, the backcourt trio of Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, and Leandro Barbosa combined for 38 points, while Jeff Green scored a game-high 17.

In any given game, a different player could take the lead with the team on the same page.

"I told you when Rondo went down that obviously all of us would have to pick up the load," said Garnett. "And now we lost Jared, even more. Jared is a great rebounder for us, great facilitator. The guys now that are getting opportunities are just going to have to come in and, like I said with Rondo, it's going to fall on the backs of everybody."

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 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.”