To stay fresh, Celtics may limit Pierce's minutes


To stay fresh, Celtics may limit Pierce's minutes

WALTHAM Paul Pierce is looking a bit slimmer these days.

If Doc Rivers has his way, the same might be true for Pierce's minutes this season.

Having Pierce at the top of his game when the playoffs roll around is a priority for Boston, which is why Rivers is seriously considering putting similar limitations on Pierce's playing time that he has done with Kevin Garnett.

"Paul is a guy I've never really worried about with minutes," Rivers said. "But I'm going to watch his minutes."

Heading into his 15th NBA season, Pierce has averaged 36.9 minutes played per game and has not averaged less than 34 in any single season.

That's a considerable amount of wear and tear over time, which is why Rivers has to give serious thought to going with the 5-5-5 plan for Pierce which would limit him to playing in five-minute bursts.

While it would certainly require some adjusting on Pierce's part, he's all for it.

"Doc, he's the coach around here," Pierce said. "I trust his judgement in everything that he does. We've been together a long time. Whatever is going to be best for the team, that's what it's gonna be."

But Pierce is one of the NBA's best at scoring in bunches, which might at times make the 5-5-5 rule difficult to implement.

"With me and Doc, we'll figure things out," Pierce said. "But if I'm on fire the first five minutes, I can't come out. It's simple and plain."

A hot-shooting Pierce.

Rivers has no issues with riding him and ditching the 5-5-5 plan for a game every now and then.

"I'm all for it," Rivers said. "Paul is a gym rat. Obviously if we can keep Rondo's minutes down, we will. And Paul's minutes down. It doesn't mean we will. But I'm saying, it would be nice."

Having a healthy Pierce at the start of training camp is a treat as well.

Pierce suffered a heel injury shortly before the start of training camp last season. It limited him early in the season and it wasn't until around the all-star break did he start playing like the dominant wing player that has been named to the all-star team 10 times.

"It's definitely an advantage to come out here and be already in shape," Pierce said. "Injuries hampered me coming into training camp. I can get off to a better start, hopefully. It's important that we stay healthy. It's important that we get off to a good start."

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.”

Celtics pay tribute to Craig Sager in Tuesday's practice


Celtics pay tribute to Craig Sager in Tuesday's practice

The NBA is honoring longtime TNT broadcaster Craig Sager to begin the season, with teams wearing Sager-themed shirts across the league. 

Sager, 65, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2014, and it was announced in March that he had an expected three-to-six months to live. 

The Celtics celebrated Sager in full force at the end of Tuesday’s practice, changing into shirts with multi-colored flowers and clashing patterns in an ode to Sager’s signature style. The group gathered for pictures and shouted “Sager Strong,” a hashtag that’s circulated in support of the 65-year-old. 

After news emerged that his cancer had returned in March, TNT worked out a deal with ABC that allowed Sager to cover the NBA Finals for the first time in his 34-year career, leading to a memorable exchange with LeBron James after the Cavaliers won the NBA title.