Pierce (heel) out, Pavlovic to start vs. Heat


Pierce (heel) out, Pavlovic to start vs. Heat

MIAMI For the second straight game, Sasha Pavlovic will get the start at small forward for the Boston Celtics in place of Paul Pierce who remains out with a right heel injury.

While there may have been a couple of questionable calls in Boston's 106-104 loss to New York on Christmas Day that went against the C's and Pavlovic, the need to be more aggressive is something Pavlovic and Celtics coach Doc Rivers understand has to happen if they are to have any shot at knocking off the Miami Heat tonight.

The loss to the Knicks, a game in which Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 37 points, was a teachable moment for both Pavlovic and Marquis Daniels who will also look to fill the void left by Pierce being sidelined.

"Just compete," Rivers said. "It's a learning lesson. We'll be better."

It was a lesson that Pavlovic expects will help better prepare him for tonight's matchup against two-time league MVP LeBron James, a former teammate in Cleveland.

"I just have to be as much as aggressive as I can be, make it as hard as I can for him to score the basket," Pavlovic told CSNNE.com. "Obviously, they're both great scorers. It's not like I'm going to stop them from scoring, but I have to make it tough for them."

Part of that involves him being more aggressive on offense and at times, look to shoot.

In the loss to the Knicks, Pavlovic did not take a single shot from the field and far too often, didn't show any signs of looking to score.

"I have to be more aggressive offensively," he said.

However, doing so with the Celtics is challenging when you consider Pavlovic starts with four players who have all been named to multiple all-star teams.

"We do have a lot of guys with a lot of talent who can score on this team," Pavlovic said. "But I have to make it tougher for them, so I need to be more aggressive offensively."

LeBron James remembers all too well that Pavlovic, while not being one of the Cavalier's top players, was instrumental in their success which included a trip to the NBA Finals.

On many nights, it was Pavlovic - not James - who would defend the opposing team's top scorer at the shooting guard or small forward position.

"Sasha's a very athletic wing," James said. "he plays hard; very physical. He's very gifted."

But those talents that have been talked about so often by players and coaches, seldom show up with any kind of consistency in games.

It's the main reason why Pavlovic is a player whose role in the NBA remains such a mystery despite this being his ninth NBA season.

"I'm just happy to see him in the NBA as well as seine that he's getting an opportunity to play," James said.

But for how long?

Pierce's return will surely cut into Pavlovic's playing time.

When you throw in the fact that newly acquired Mickael Pietrus is probably a week or so away from stepping on to the floor, Pavlovic's playing time now becomes even more important if he is to establish himself as a player the Celtics can look to coming off the bench.

"I'm going to do whatever I can to help us win," Pavlovic said. "That's all I think about right now; helping us win games."

Still wait-and-see on Smart's status for Celtics' opener


Still wait-and-see on Smart's status for Celtics' opener

BOSTON – Marcus Smart’s sprained left ankle injury continues to heal, but the Celtics remain in wait-and-see mode when it comes to his availability for the season opener on Wednesday against Brooklyn.
Smart sprained the ankle in the second quarter of a 121-96 preseason loss to the New York Knicks when he stepped on the foot of Knicks guard Justin Holliday.
He was helped off the floor by teammates Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas along with head trainer Ed Lacerte.
Since the injury, the Celtics have been pleased with the healing progress of the ankle, the same ankle he sprained as a rookie which kept him out for several weeks.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Smart is no longer in a walking boot and continues to be day-to-day as he receives a steady diet of treatments to help speed up the healing process.
Smart will undergo a series of tests to determine the ankle’s strength, prior to getting any kind of clearance to play.
That’s why Stevens isn’t worried about Smart returning to the floor too soon.
“I trust our staff. Our staff and Marcus will make that decision well,” Stevens said. “Then I play guys, if they are available.”
Smart has established himself as one of the Celtics’ top reserves, with the ability to play both guard positions and some small forward depending on the lineup on the floor. The Celtics have to prepare for the possibility that he will not be able to play in the opener (or the first few games considering Boston opens with three games in four nights.

His absence would create more playing time for Terry Rozier in addition to likely resulting in extended minutes for starters such as Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder.
As eager as Smart is to get back on the floor, he and the Celtics are mindful of the big picture.
This team wants to make a deep playoff run and they’ll everyone – Smart included – to do so.
That’s why as much as Smart wants to get on the floor immediately, he has to remember – or be reminded of – that this is an 82-game season and his long-term value to this team and its goals can’t be taken for granted.

Olynyk cleared for full contact at Celtics' practice


Olynyk cleared for full contact at Celtics' practice

BOSTON - The Celtics got a bit of good news on the injury front with Kelly Olynyk being cleared for full contact.
The 7-foot center participated in most of the Celtics’ drills on Saturday, some of which included contact.
Olynyk said he had been doing some contact work prior to practice Saturday, but in a more controlled setting.
“I’m just trying to ramp it up a little bit more, every day,” Olynyk said. “Just trying to take a step in the right direction every day.”
Olynyk had surgery on his right shoulder in May with him expected to be out for at least five months.
Danny Ainge, C's president of basketball operations, recently said that he anticipated Olynyk returning sometime in the middle of November.
That would put his return about six months out from the time of surgery.

“He did a lot more than he has done,” coach Brad Stevens said. “We’ll see how he feels and progress at the appropriate rate after that.”
One of the strengths that Olynyk brought to the floor when he played was the ability to help space the floor because of his 3-point shooting.
Olynyk was not just a good 3-point shooter for a center, but one of the better 3-point shooters in the NBA last season when he connected on 40.5 percent of his 3s last season.  And it’s clear that last season was not a fluke, evident by him shooting 37.3 percent on 3s for his career.
However, the addition of Al Horford not only solidified the Celtics’ interior defense but also provides them with another stretch center.
Horford, who spent the past nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, shot 34 percent on 3s last season which at the very least, makes him a player that defenses have to respect when he’s outside of the 3-point line.