Johnson has experience to make impact

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Johnson has experience to make impact

WALTHAM No one is expecting Boston Celtics rookie JaJuan Johnson to come in and average 20 points and 10 rebounds right away, if at all. But unlike most of Boston's rookies in recent years, Johnson comes in with a realistic chance of seeing some playing time from Day One.

An All-American who was Big Ten Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year at Purdue, Johnson comes in with the kind of pedigree that bodes well for an NBA newcomer.

Johnson became the fourth player to return to the Celtics' practice facility since the tentative agreement between the players and owners was reached which allowed for players to resume working out at practice facilities.

While he declined to speak with the media following his Saturday morning workout, he discussed in an earlier interview the transition he'll have to make from college to the pros.

"Everyone is bigger, stronger," he said. "I know it's not like college, anymore. But I'm coming in to help this team anyway I can."

Even though he's yet to have his first practice with the Celtics, it's a given that he'll be one of the Celtics' best big men at running the floor and finishing in transition. He can also score facing the basket and at times from the perimeter.

Defensively, he doesn't have the strength yet to hold his own in the paint with the NBA's elite big men, but his knack for blocking shots as a weak-side defender should fit in nicely with the defensive-minded Celtics.

However, with the lockout wiping out all of summer league and leaving the NBA with a shortened preseason, it's unlikely that there will be many rookies making much of an impact. Johnson's experience may give him an edge in terms of picking up the Celtics' way of doing things, quickly.

"He's a four-year college guy and he's very mature," said his agent, Bill Duffy, who also represents Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. "That will serve him very well in the transition."

Ditto for Boston's other pick in last June's NBA draft, fellow Boilermaker E'Twaun Moore.

Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, believes the experience factor will help both players adapt to the NBA sooner than some younger, less experienced players.

"It helps a lot," Ainge said of the experience. "These guys have improved a lot over the course of their college careers. They've played in a lot of big games, a lot of hostile environments. They've been ranked very high at times in their college career, been ones expected to win. They've been through a lot. That can only help as they get ready for the NBA."

Most players selected in the late-teens or early 20s, usually begin their careers fighting just to crack the regular rotation behind an established standout who logs 30-plus minutes a night.

Kevin Garnett, a player that Johnson has acknowledged that he greatly admired even before he became a Celtic, isn't going to have too many 30-minute or more nights.

As has been the case in recent years, Garnett's minutes will be monitored closely and aren't likely to tip much, if at all, past the 30-minute mark.

That means if Johnson comes in and establishes himself, he can be there as a backup to Garnett.

But that was just part of the reason why Duffy likes having Johnson a member of the Boston Celtics.

"It's one of the signature franchises in basketball," Duffy said. "As an agent, you always want to have a player in this market. You know they want to win, you know there's a lot of visibility. And we're really excited for JaJuan to be here. We think the next several years, he has a chance to have a very prominent role as the Big 3 they're older players now, so they do need to look for new blood, if you will. And the fact that having Rajon here who is such a great leader, we feel this is a great fit for JaJuan to develop more expediently than he might elsewhere."

WATCH: Celtics vs. Rockets

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Rockets

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics play the Rockets in Houston. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game Preview: Get ready for 3-point showdown

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Celtics-Rockets preview: Get ready for 3-point showdown

Celtics-Rockets preview: Get ready for 3-point showdown

Earlier this month the Boston Celtics took a season-high 42 three-pointers in a game which raised a few eyebrows. 

And you know what?

No one would be surprised if the Celtics (12-8) surpassed that total tonight when they face the Houston Rockets who have set the pace when it comes to launching 3-point bombs in the NBA this season with 37.0 attempts per game. 

The Celtics aren’t too far behind, averaging 30.8 three-pointers which ranks fifth in the NBA.

But what makes these two teams so unique is that in addition to taking a lot of 3s, they also rank among the NBA’s leaders when it comes to knocking them down. 

The Rockets (13-7) make an NBA-high 14.0 three-pointers per game while the Celtics are fifth in the league with 11.1 made 3s per game. 

And the key to that stat is that both teams shoot a surprisingly high percentage from 3-point range as well. 

Houston’s 37.8 percent from 3-point range is the fifth-best mark in the NBA while the Celtics shoot 36.0 percent on 3's which ranks 10th in the league. 

So what does all this 3-ball shooting mean? 

It means get your popcorn ready for what should be one of the more exciting, high-scoring games on the Boston Celtics’ schedule this season.

Here are some other key stats to keep tabs on during tonight’s game. 

 

FIRST QUARTER SCORING

There is no team in the NBA better at jumping on you from the outset, then Houston. They lead the NBA in first-quarter scoring with 31.2 points per game while shooting 51.9 percent in the quarter which is also tops in the NBA. But there’s a downside to their first quarter success. Houston’s first quarter defense is pretty bad, ranking 27th in the league in first-quarter points allowed (28.5) while allowing teams to shoot a league-worst 52.3 percent from the field in the game’s first 12 minutes. 

 

FOURTH QUARTER SCORING

As impressive as Houston is to start games, the Boston Celtics are just as dominant offensively in the fourth quarter. Boston averages a league-best 29.1 points per game in the fourth compared to the Rockets whose 24.4 points in the fourth ranks 21st in the NBA. Boston’s strong finish to games is aided by a defense that seems to save its best work for the fourth quarter. Opponents are shooting just 40.6 percent against the Celtics in the fourth which ranks as the third-best fourth quarter defense in the NBA.

 

OFFENSIVE REBOUND PERCENTAGE

Boston’s struggles on the boards are well documented which includes - but is certainly not limited to - offensive rebounding. The Rockets will present a major problem to Boston when it comes to trying to avoid Houston getting second and third-shot opportunities. The Rockets rank fifth in the NBA in second-chance points (15.3) per game while the Celtics’ defense allows 15.2 second-chance points which ranks 27th in the league. And Boston’s offensive rebounding percentage for opponents ranks dead-last in the NBA at .265.

 

BALL MOVEMENT

Both teams rank among the league leaders in assists per game with Boston’s 24.4 assists per game average No. 2 in the NBA and Houston’s 24.3 assists ranks fourth. But more telling is how the Celtics rely more heavily on keeping the ball moving, more so than the Rockets. You see this in Boston averaging 329.2 passes per game which ranks third in the NBA while the Rockets’ 273.5 passes per game average is 29th in the league. Still, Houston’s passing game is to be respected especially when you consider the lofty assists numbers they’ve racked up in addition to them getting 59.2 points created via the assist according to nba.com/stats

 

TURNOVERS

These two are at opposite ends of the basketball world when it comes to turnovers. Boston commits 12.3 per game which is the fourth-fewest committed in the NBA while the Rockets are turning the ball over 16.1 times per game and that ranks 27th in the league. And these two remain widely far apart in the fourth quarter which is when the Celtics turn the ball over a league-low 2.2 times per game in the fourth while Houston turns the ball more than twice as much (4.5) which ranks 29th in the league.