Daniels healthy, happy to be back with C's

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Daniels healthy, happy to be back with C's

WALTHAM Marquis Daniels is sporting a new jersey number (50) this season. And the man who's wearing it? He's changed as well.

The last time we saw Daniels on the court was 10 months ago

"Feb. 6," Daniels said. "I'm not going to forget that day."

That day he was being carried off the TD Garden floor on a stretcher, his neck immobilized, with most in attendance believing that would be the last time Daniels would play in the NBA, let alone a Celtics uniform.

Not only is he back with the C's, but the surgery he had following the injury has Daniels in the best health of his career.

"I feel stronger," Daniels told CSNNE.com. "I feel like I can go to the basket a lot stronger, and just take more contact as opposed to last year or years before where I was like, trying to shy away from it. Now I'm just getting loose and trying to just play my game."

But before he could return, Daniels knew he would need to take a hit -- probably to the head or back -- before he would truly feel comfortable back on the floor.

Playing with some college players at Auburn a couple months ago, Daniels was driving to the basket when he and another player bumped heads. After the head-to-head collision, a slow but steady stream of blood began to flow from a fresh gash.

And Daniels could not have been any happier.

"I'm bleeding, but my neck's OK," Daniels recalls thinking at the time. "Usually I'd be down."

But on this day, Daniels' feet never left the ground.

"I was just bleeding. I had a headache. But other than that," he said. "I was OK."

The contact was caused by Daniels being aggressive, something he says he's more capable of doing now as he begins his third stint with the Celtics. He owes it all to surgery that he says widened his spinal canal. He also had some bones shaved and screws inserted. It was the kind of invasive procedure that was an absolute must for him to continue playing in the NBA.

But even after the successful surgery, Daniels wasn't totally convinced his NBA career would resume.

"After surgery, I was in a lot of pain," he said. "It was some doubts in my mind: 'This could be it.' "

But as he got stronger and returned to working out, Daniels realized it wasn't a matter of if he would return -- but with what team.

His agent Mark Bartelstein told CSNNE.com that there were a handful of teams that Daniels was seriously considering. "But the Celtics were the team he wanted to be with from the beginning," Bartelstein said.

Daniels echoed those sentiments this week.

"I always told him (Bartelstein), Boston was my first option," Daniels said. "Team spirit, family unity and the tradition, the way everyone treats me here. I thought it was better for me. Considering everything else, I know the system, I'm comfortable here and the guys are comfortable having me here."

And now, in what may be the last run for the Celtics' Big Three, Daniels hopes to do his part to help them go out on a championship note.

"If we can all stay away from the injury bug . . ." said Daniels.

As an eight-year veteran who has played less than 70 games in all but one NBA season (74 games, 2007-2008 with Indiana), no Celtics player knows the value of having good health, better than Daniels.

Celtics-Hawks preview: Thomas 'not worried about' Schroeder

Celtics-Hawks preview: Thomas 'not worried about' Schroeder

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. –  Isaiah Thomas has respect for the Atlanta Hawks team.

So when I asked him about the Hawks, Thomas spoke glowingly about Paul Millsap as being a “special player” and Dwight Howard having a huge impact on shot attempts whether he’s blocking them or not.

But he knows all eyes will be on him and Hawks point guard Dennis Schroeder who had some not-so-nice things to say about Thomas following Boston’s 103-101 win at Atlanta on Jan. 13.

The two waged a feisty, highly combative game most of the Jan. 13 game with Thomas getting the better of Schroeder in just about every statistical category such as scoring (28 points for Thomas compared to 4 for Schroeder), assists (nine to three), and minutes played (36:16 to 22:36).

And then there was the one statistic that mattered most … the win.

But after the game, Schroeder told reporters that Thomas had spoken badly about his mother.

“I’m playing basketball,” Schroder told reporters after the game in January. “If he think that he got to curse at my mom or say some dumb stuff about my family, that has nothing to do with basketball. That’s his choice. I’ve got too much class for that. Next one, we are going to get it.”

The news got back to Thomas who emphatically denied he said anything along those lines.

“I don’t talk about nobody’s mom,” Thomas said when he became aware of Schroeder’s comments. “I don’t cuss at anybody’s mom and I don’t talk about people’s family. So whatever he said, that’s a 100 percent lie and he knows that.”

When I asked Thomas about Schroeder following Boston’s 104-98 win at Detroit Sunday night, he had little to say about the Hawks point guard.

“Man I’m past that. I’m not worried about that guy,” Thomas said. “Once he did that the last game, where he tried to damage my character, (saying I was) talking about his parents … I’m past that. Hopefully we can beat the Atlanta Hawks. I’m not even worried about him.”

Schroeder may not be on Thomas’ radar as a major concern, but the players he spoke of earlier – Millsap and Howard – are two players who can have a significant impact on whether the Celtics can continue to build off of the good things they did against the Pistons.

And Atlanta (32-26) will come in extremely thirsty for success having lost their last three games – all by 15 or more points - and four of the last five.

Despite the Hawks recent struggles, the Celtics understand that despite their success this season they are in no position to take any team lightly.

“They’re a good team. They play the game the right way,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “They have some really good players, some really good shooters, really good bigs down low. We have to come out and play harder than them, match their intensity, execute, move the ball, share the ball and have fun.”

Shaughnessy: Why I'm not a fan of Celtics not trading at deadline

Shaughnessy: Why I'm not a fan of Celtics not trading at deadline

Dan Shaughnessy joins Sports Sunday and talks with Felger about why he hated the Boston Celtics not making any moves at the deadline.