Celtics shake off the rust after long layoff

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Celtics shake off the rust after long layoff

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM A couple days off does the body good, especially when that body has logged as many miles as most of these Boston Celtics players.

But having not done anything basketball-related as a team since Sunday, does have its downside.

Additional time to heal up some of the many bumps and bruises will definitely benefit the Celtics. But there is some concern that they won't be in a good rhythm when the second round of the playoffs begin Sunday in Miami.

"This is a cobweb day, get all the cobwebs out," said forward Glen Davis. "We've been chillin' for a couple days, getting a lot of rest; get our rhythm back together with each other."

Having so much time off in between playoff series is relatively foreign to most of the Celtics.

It isn't to starting center Jermaine O'Neal, who recalls in 2004 being part of an Indiana Pacers team that swept the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.

"We put them away so fast, we ended up having a week, almost two weeks off," said O'Neal, whose Indiana team that season went on to the Eastern Conference finals and lost to eventual NBA champion Detroit Pistons. "Sometimes you just have to watch a lot of film, kind of remind yourself what you should do and when you get back in practice, be as competitive as possible."

For O'Neal, the days off have helped his sore left wrist heal without having to worry about re-aggravating it in practice or a game.

"It feels good," O'Neal said of the injury. "I'm just going to protect it. I wear a brace. I'm kind of superstitious now. I even wear the brace at home when I don't even need it. You just want to be healthy going into the next round and not have any hiccups."

One Celtics player whose health remains a mystery is Shaquille O'Neal.

Coach Doc Rivers was asked if Shaq, who will not practice on Wednesday or Thursday, had suffered a setback to the right triceps surae complex injury to his right calf and Achilles.

"No, not at all," Rivers told CSNNE.com. "He's actually had a very good week. He's still improving, but when the medical staff says he's ready, he's ready."

With Shaq unable to practice, it has meant more time with the first unit for Jermaine O'Neal, whose defensive presence was among the contributing factors to the Celtics sweeping the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.

"He's been a godsend," Rivers said of J. O'Neal. "I could not have asked for anything better."

Between now and Game 1 of the C's second-round series, Rivers will continue to implement nuances to their various offensive and defensive sets, in addition to fine-tuning what they already do well.

Rivers said having this time off without a definitive game to play, is similar to what they have to do during training camp.

"When you start training camp, you don't really have an opponent," Rivers said. "Really just trying to work on all your stuff. We have the opportunity to do that, with rest. So that's good."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

BOSTON – This continues to be a historic season for Isaiah Thomas as more records fell in Wednesday’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee, and the company he’s keeping becomes even more exclusive. 

Thomas had a game-high 32 points on Wednesday which included five made 3’s on nine attempts. That gave him 223 for the season which is a new franchise single-season record for made 3-pointers. The previous record was 222 set by Antoine Walker during the 2001-2002 season.

And his 32 points scored gives him 2,012 this season. 

Only six players in franchise history (Paul Pierce was the last to do it during the 2005-2006 season) have scored 2,000 or more points in a single season. 

Oh, there’s more. 

With Wednesday being the 66th time this season he has had 20 or more points, Thomas has now tied Pierce (2005-2006) and Larry Bird (1985-1986; 1987-1988) for sixth on the Celtics’ single-season franchise list. 

“I didn’t even know that,” a visibly disappointed Thomas said following Wednesday’s loss. “It doesn’t feel that good right now. But when I look back on it, probably in the offseason, I’ll appreciate it a little more. But I’m just staying in the moment and try and play as best I can to lead this team to as many wins as possible.”

Other season milestones Thomas is in the mix for include the following:

  • The 5-foot-9 guard is one of three players this season to have 50 or more games of 25-plus points, joined by Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (57) and Houston’s James Harden (54).
  • Thomas has made at least one 3-pointer in a franchise-record 50 straight games (Dec. 3 – March 29). That’s also the longest current streak in the NBA. 
  • With 66 games of 20 or more points this season, Thomas is second in the NBA to Westbrook (67).

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

BOSTON – One of the more bizarre plays in Boston’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee came in the second quarter, requiring some explanation from the officials afterwards. 

With 3:55 to play in the second quarter, the officials had originally called a foul on Marcus Smart which he verbally protested that eventually led to him being whistled for a technical foul. 

After the officials reviewed the play, they changed the call to a personal foul against Khris Middleton but no change to the called technical foul against Smart who objected to a call that, upon review, they agreed was the wrong call to make. 

Official Sean Corbin, through pool reporter Ken Powtak of the Associated Press, acknowledged that the original call was a loose ball foul against Smart. 

“The (officiating) crew got together, we met prior to video and we decided that we needed to look at video because both players were on the floor bleeding so we went to the video for a hostile act,” Corbin told Powtak. “In the review we noticed that Khris Middleton initially made contact to Marcus Smart’s face. That’s how the original contact to the play occurred.”

Fortunately for the Celtics, Middleton missed his technical free throw while Smart split a pair of free throws which cut Milwaukee’s lead to 49-40.

Still, that’s no consolation for Smart who was whistled for a technical foul on a play that the official acknowledged was the wrong call to make. 

In the fourth quarter, Smart was at the center of yet another controversial call that was also reviewed by the officials. The verdict wasn't nearly as good for Smart who was whistled for a flagrant foul after getting his feet tangled up with Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo who was called for a non-shooting foul in the play with 4:46 to play. 

Antetokounmpo made one of two free throws and on the Bucks' ensuing possession, he was called for traveling.

Smart was unavailable to talk after the game in part because the aforementioned incident left an abrasion to his mouth and, because of the technical foul, a little lighter in the wallet as well.