BOSTON -- When is a bone bruise good news? When the other possibility was thought to be a meniscus tear.
After suffering a right knee injury on Friday night against the New York Knicks, Jermaine ONeal underwent an MRI on Saturday which revealed a bone bruise. It was a relief for the big man who already missed two games this season with a sore left knee and has battled knee injuries over his career.
I was running down in the second half the other night and stopped and my leg slipped, so my knee buckled a little bit so I had a little bit of a pinch, ONeal said following the Celtics 98-80 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. That was something that was a little bit of a concern because I woke up the next day -- well actually it started to swell a little after the game but then the next day it was pretty painful so they wanted to get a picture of it. The biggest thing for was it not being a meniscus tear. That was kind of the Dooms Day thing for me. When I got the call that it was a bone bruise, I could play through that. The meniscus tears are the ones that are tough to play through.
ONeal did not participate in practice on Saturday. He returned to the court on Sunday and posted four points and seven rebounds against the Grizzlies. While he felt the same amount of pain two days later, he thanked the Celtics staff for helping him with what he called around-the-clock therapy.
I was pretty pleased with that because we were a little nervous that it was something else, he said. Were never going to be healthy. Things are going to come up and youve just got to come out and give what you can give. Thats what I try to do.
BOSTON – Here are a few odds and ends to keep an eye on heading into tonight’s game against the Sacramento Kings:
· The Celtics have won eight in a row over the Kings in Boston, with the last loss to Sacramento at the TD Garden coming on Jan. 19, 2007. Current Celtic Gerald Green was in the starting lineup that night.
· Only six times in franchise history have the Celtics launched 38 or more 3-pointers in a game, four of which came in the month of November this season.
· Speaking of 3-pointers, 36.2 percent of Boston’s shots are 3s. That ranks fifth in the league behind Houston, Cleveland, Brooklyn and Golden State.
· Don’t be surprised if Avery Bradley gets off to a good start tonight, especially from 3-point range. He’s shooting 59.1 percent on 3s in the first quarter which ranks second in the league.
· Isaiah Thomas tallied 395 points scored in November, the most by a Celtic since John Havlicek had 406 points in November during the 1971-1972 season.
· Boston leads the NBA in points scored (46.3 per game) by second-round picks. The Celtics’ second-round picks include Isaiah Thomas; Jae Crowder; Amir Johnson; Jonas Jerebko; Demetrius Jackson and Jordan Mickey.
· The Celtics are 5-0 this season when they outrebound an opponent.
· Tonight’s game will be Boston’s fifth set of back-to-back games this season. In the first game, they are 3-1 this season. On the second night, they are 2-2.
BOSTON – When it comes to defense, the Celtics are quick to claim that it is indeed the foundation for which their team is built upon.
Still, far too often this season, we have seen cracks in their usually Teflon-tough defense, the kind that ultimately means the difference between winning and losing.
The Celtics’ defense will once again need to step up and play well tonight against a Sacramento squad that has shown it can fill it up offensively of late.
Sacramento (7-11) has scored 100 or more points in eight of their past 10 games. In that span, their 107.2 points per game ranks ninth in the league.
In that same span, the Celtics have allowed opponents to score 100.3 points per game, which ranks 10th in the NBA in fewest points allowed.
And when it comes to winning, limiting teams to less than 100 points has been huge in Boston’s win total.
The Celtics have held eight opponents to 100 points or less this season.
Their record in those games? 8-0.
Within that limited scoring, Boston must also make sure teams don’t get into a nice groove shooting the ball.
Boston is 0-5 this season when an opponent shoots 48 percent or better from the field.
While there are several things Boston must do to be successful, having the right kind of defensive disposition ranks at or near the top of that list in their efforts to play with the kind of defensive success that gave so many hope that this would the year Boston would hold court among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
“We have to get a little more nastier on the defensive end and not let a team come in and get comfortable,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.