Krstic passes crash course in the Celtics system

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Krstic passes crash course in the Celtics system

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - On an average practice day, Nenad Krstic arrives early. He goes through plays with the second group, made up of other newly acquired teammates and rookie Avery Bradley.

Once practice starts, he runs through drills and schemes with the starting unit.

And when it's over, its back to work with the reserves.

Krstic is learning the Boston Celtics system from two different perspectives, which is helping him adjust quickly to his new team.

It helps a lot just to get rhythm, he told CSNNE.com. Its all about repetition and it helps everything.

On Wednesday night, Krstic looked more like a player who had been with the Celtics the entire season than someone who was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder just weeks ago when he scored 20 points against the Los Angeles Clippers.

In his best offensive performance of the season, he shot 7-for-10 from the field, 6-for-7 from the line, and grabbed six offensive rebounds (nine total). In spite of the Celtics' 108-103 loss, Krstics efforts gave a glimpse into the impact he can have on their offensive game.

Between the mid-range jumpshots and second-chance putbacks, he gives the Celtics additional options at the basket. He is averaging 13.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in his first six games with his new team.

Hes the one guy that they look at and say, You know what Rajon Rondo does, you know what the three of us do, and then hes out there, Ray Allen said. Hes developing a reputation himself because he can shoot the ball and he goes after those second-chance rebounds and he gives us extra possessions. So its good to have him in there because hes very mobile, very agile around the basket.

Just as the starters benefit from having Krstic in the lineup with them, he is also gaining a lot from being on the floor with them. In spite of all the time he has put in with the second group, running through drills with Allen, Rondo, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett has helped him get comfortable on the court.

Its better practicing with the starters because theyve been together a long time, he said. When one guy jumps in, its easier because everyone helps him up and picks him up and thats what kind of group they are. Its good and Im really happy to be here.

After Wednesdays loss, it was evident that spending time immersed in the Celtics system had already rubbed off on Krstic. He was quick to point out that in spite of his noteworthy game, the team didnt get the win.

It didnt take long for the Celtics we-not-me foundation to become the focal point of Krstics mentality.

Im happy to just be a part of the team, he said. Ive never been in this situation before, when Ive been traded in the middle of the season. Its hard when you go to a new team, a winning team, who is trying to win a championship. Coach gave me a chance and Im going to feel bad because we lost, but I feel like if he put me in and we struggle, I feel that its because of me.

I dont know if Im where I need to be defensively, but Im really happy how the team is progressing. This is the sixth game and I think Im just going to get better with each game and practice, too.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Pistons

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Celtics-Pistons preview: C's need to defend their top-four spot in East

Celtics-Pistons preview: C's need to defend their top-four spot in East

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- On Friday night, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan absolutely torched the Boston Celtics. The game before that, it was Chicago’s Jimmy Butler giving the Celtics major fits with a barrage of baskets. 

Both were All-Star starters this year, the kind of lofty status that helps explain how the Celtics were so defensively-challenged in their efforts in limiting them.

Detroit doesn’t have a bona fide high-scoring perimeter star like those other teams, but don’t think for a minute that tonight’s game will be a breeze for the Celtics. Boston (37-21) comes in having lost two in a row to Chicago and Toronto, respectively. The Raptors loss was especially painful because it assured the Raptors would get the higher seed in the playoffs if these two teams finished with an identical record. 

Boston hopes to secure an edge over the Pistons tonight with a victory that will give them the season series, three games to one. While it may seem a bit early to get too caught up in tie-breakers and their importance, the last thing Boston wants is to finish the regular season tied with one or more teams, and wind up with the lower seed because they lost the head-to-head series. 

“You hear people say every game counts; it’s true,” Boston’s Amir Johnson told CSNNE.com. “We need to win as many games as we can because you never know which game could be the difference between having home court or not.”

If Boston continues to find ways to win and finish with a tie-free, top-four finish in the East, they will begin the playoffs at the TD Garden for the first time under fourth-year coach Brad Stevens.

Meanwhile the Pistons are currently eighth in the East and, like the Celtics, they too opted to stand pat at the trade deadline. And like Boston, they are looking for growth from within as they try to make their way up the Eastern Conference standings. 

“We’re not real happy with how we’ve played up to this point overall,” said Stan Van Gundy, the Pistons’ president of basketball operations and head coach. “But we still have a young group. As much as you would like the progress to be steadily uphill, it’s not always. That doesn’t mean you lose faith in your guys. At the end of the day, we ended up standing pat, which is pretty much what we expected to do.”

One of Boston’s biggest concerns coming into the game will be rebounding. It was among the many factors contributing to Boston’s loss on Friday. But as much as execution at both ends of the floor will be a factor, effort will be just as vital if not more, to the success of the Celtics in the playoffs. There were plenty of reasons as to why Boston lost on Friday night, with effort being near the top of the list. 

“They played harder than us,” said Celtics forward Jae Crowder. 

And that was surprising when you consider what was at stake – a chance to push their lead over Toronto to five games with a couple dozen to go.

Rookie forward Jaylen Brown has heard all the reasons and explanations as to why the Celtics have hit a mini-hiccup following back-to-back losses. And he has also heard how Boston blew a golden opportunity to beat Toronto with Raptors all-star Kyle Lowry still out. 

“We didn’t have one of our key guys, either,” said Brown, referring to Avery Bradley still being out with a foot injury. So it’s basketball at the end of the day. It doesn’t’ matter who is on the floor. You have to do your job; we just have to do our job.”