Celtics rookies adjust to uncertainty of playing time

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Celtics rookies adjust to uncertainty of playing time

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

Over the years, the Celtics have watched young talent emerge as veterans were sidelined with injuries. Glen Davis is the most prominent example on the current squad, establishing himself two years ago after Kevin Garnett was sidelined.

This season, the Cs have been bit by the injury bug . . . over and over again, from hampered big men to hobbled guards. The Celtics have had to turn to their rookies to fill voids on the court.

While injuries present Avery Bradley, Semih Erden, and Luke Harangody with the opportunity for playing time, minutes are inconsistent once their teammates return to the court.

The Celtics rookies discussed with CSNNE.com how they have adjusted to the uncertainty of playing time and are finding ways to grow even when they arent in the game.

Semih Erden
Erden began his professional basketball in Europe when he was a teenager. This summer he played for the Turkish National Team in the 2010 FIBA Tournament, including 18 minutes in the championship game against the United States. After starting four games this season in place of Shaquille ONeal, Erden has not played since December 22. That isnt stopping him, though, from enjoying his rookie season in the NBA.

I just keep working, thats it, Erden said. I have to work. I have to be ready. Im patient and wait my turn. I take my time so I can show my best. Thats it. Just work, work, work . . . I dont get frustrated. Im good because we have a lot of experienced guys. I learn everything right now and I know everything because its been like four months. Im watching and enjoying because we won the game and everybody played good and we are teammates . . . I have a good attitude because this is a chance but Im happy. Im happy to be here.

Avery Bradley
Bradley was only 19 years old when he was selected by the Celtics with the 19th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. After ranking as the second-leading scorer at the University of Texas last season, he is adapting to his new role in the pros. As the youngest player on a veteran squad, Bradley is learning how to stay ready from his teammates.

I listen to the older guys, Bradley said. They always preach to us, Always stay ready. Not only them, the coaches do as well. All the time, the rookies are always ready to go into the game whenever our names are called. It shows that we are ready and paying attention when we do get in because at this level and on this team, you dont really have much room for mistakes. Playing time does come and go but when we do get the opportunity, we want to make the best of it.

Im here for whatever they need me to do. Even if Doc Rivers called me in for one second to go, Im going to be ready to play. Its tough - I was coming from playing a lot to not playing, but it definitely shows how much you can learn not playing and I just take advantage of it and try to learn from these other guys so when I do get my chance, Ill be ready.

Luke Harangody
Of all three rookies, Harangody has seen the most playing time as of late. With Kevin Garnett (calf) sidelined, Harangody has played in every game since his injury. Minutes, though, have fluctuated from less than 5 to more than 15. This second-round pick from Notre Dame is putting in extra time on off days to stay prepared for game night.

I just come in, work out every day, get with the coaches on days off, he said. I get with strength coaches to get your cardio in and conditioning in because you never know. The other night I played 16 minutes and Wednesday I played four. You just never know. Thats the life of a rookie.

Its just one of those things were youve got to keep in the gym, got to keep up with our workouts, because if you slip up a little bit and then something happens like with Kevin, I get a little playing time. Now if I wasnt ready, none of those minutes would have happened . . . Obviously everyone wants to play or everyone wants to be part of the team and help the team, but you realize the situation youre in here and you take what you can. You take every opportunity you get and you try to make the best of them.

Follow Jessica Camerato on Twitter at http:www.twitter.comjcameratonba

It was still a banner year for Celtics, according to Bleacher Report tweet

It was still a banner year for Celtics, according to Bleacher Report tweet


Minutes after the Celtics were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, the folks at Bleacher Report tweeted a video that celebrated the C’s one victory in the series. 

Ouch. 

There are 17 Celtics championship banners that actually exist and hang at TD Garden. You won’t be seeing one for being a “finalist” or celebrating an actual sweep, such as Spurs over Cavs in the NBA Finals.

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

BOSTON -- Prior to this year, the Celtics hadn't been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012. That trip served as a curtain call of sorts for the last great C's dynasty.
 
But this one, which ended with Cleveland's emphatic 135-102 Game 5 victory Thursday at TD Garden, is very different.

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Rather than closing another chapter in the Celtics' longstanding legacy of greatness, it could serve as the beginning of a new narrative in the franchise's steady growth.
 
"For us to be in the Eastern Conference finals after the first year of this team really being together, adding additions like Al Horford and Gerald Green . . . I can go down the list of guys that we needed to learn to play with, and for us to talk about where we wanted to be and actually make it, it's a big-time accomplishment," said Avery Bradley.
 
Boston has been among the younger teams in the NBA, with the 31-year-old Green being the oldest player on the roster.
 
But what the Celtics lacked in experience, they made up for with great effort.
 
"The great thing about this is the experience," Bradley said. "We were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learned a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it's going to help us for next year."
 
But as we all know, the Celtics will look to strengthen themsevles this offseason, which means there's a very good chance they'll have a different look when they gather again in the fall.
 
How different is anyone's guess.
 
"It's difficult every year whenever you don't have guys back," said coach Brad Stevens. "I think you share a bond (over the course of a season)."
 
Stevens and this group have been together for eight months. Eight months of struggles, successes, frustrating defeats and euphoric victories that brought them to the conference finals, which is where their season came to an end.
 
But as disappointed as the players and coaches are inow, there's definite excitement about this franchise in the very near future.
 
Boston has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, with all indications -- for now -- pointing to Washington's Markelle Fultz as their choice.
 
And their top first-round pick from a year ago, Jaylen Brown, seemed to steadily improve as the season progressed. It was one of the few times in his life where minutes weren't just handed to him, which he admits was a learning experience unlike anything he had ever had, yet he adjusted and played better as the year went along.

"I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had opportunities, I've had mistakes," said Brown. "So I've been learning and growing and improving all year and I'm going to continue growing and improving and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong."
 
Having the season end the way it did has indeed left a bad taste in the mouths of many Celtics.
 
"I can use it as fuel," Brown said, adding: "I want to get back to the same place I'm at now."
 
Bradley, who was on the 2012 team that lost to the Miami Heat in the conference finals, knows the Celtics are going to do whatever they feel is necessary to give them the best chance at competing for a title.
 
"It's out of our control as players," Bradley said. "We had a great year together. If guys are here, if guys aren't, we all wish the best for each other.

"But I do feel this is a special group. We all gave our heart every single night, played as hard as we could. I respect all my teammates, and I really appreciated playing with all the guys I had a chance to play with this year; a special group."