Beleedat: Marquis Daniels fights to play again

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Beleedat: Marquis Daniels fights to play again

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA

It began like a routine play. Marquis Daniels caught the ball near the baseline and attempted to drive to the basket against Gilbert Arenas. The two players collided and . . . in an instant, everything changed.

His right arm crashed into the parquet first, followed by his face. Daniels lay flat on the court, unable to feel his body but still conscious. He thought about his two young children Man, I cant raise my kids like this. This cant be it. as the crowd of 18,624 at the TD Garden came to a deafening hush, waiting and hoping to see any sign of movement.

Daniels heard a voice. In that moment, the most intense player on the court was suddenly the calming assurance he needed.

I just remember I kept hearing Kevin Garnett telling me, Youre gonna be alright. Youre gonna be alright, Daniels told CSNNE.com in a telephone interview. I was like, I cant move. He said, What do you mean? He kept telling me I was gonna be alright. I think that helped me out a lot, just hearing his voice telling me I was going to be alright. I stayed calm, I didnt panic.

It was a trying time for me. I didnt take anything for granted. I was going to take everything seriously from now on.

It has been six months since Daniels suffered his terrifying injury on February 6 during the second quarter of a Sunday afternoon game against the Orlando Magic. Six months since he was temporary paralyzed and wheeled out of the Garden on a stretcher with his future in question. Six months since the Celtics lost a key player in their championship quest.

As Daniels works toward his return to basketball, so much has changed since then.

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Daniels shocking fall looked like a freak accident at first glance. After being transported to New England Baptist Hospital, he was initially diagnosed with a bruised spinal cord and was expected to miss at least one month.

Further testing, though, revealed he suffered from spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal, which can put pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves, and can also cause numbness. (He was surprised to learn many injuries sustained during his career, including a nagging thumb injury, were tied back to the condition.)

The news meant his return to the court would be put on hold. First spine surgery, then recovery. Daniels, 30, took it all in stride.

Doc Rivers told me, I cant let you play no more like this, he recalled. I was like, Thats fine. Whatever this problem is, Ive got to get it fixed.

The Celtics had some fixing to do, too.

Without Daniels able to play, the team lost a critical piece to their championship hopes a back up swingman to both Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Eyeing a long playoff run, the Cs needed another bench player to spell the veterans minutes. Less than three weeks after Daniels injury, the team made moves looking ahead to the postseason.

Daniels was traded to the Sacramento Kings on February 24. That same day, the Celtics acquired Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic in exchange for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson, breaking up their starting five and adding new faces to the bench.

Green looked to be the reserve player the team needed to help fill the void Daniels left, but his contributions fell short down the stretch. The Celtics, who fell one win shy of their 18th NBA Championship the previous season, were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Semifinals by the Miami Heat.

Looking back on the Celtics season, Daniels doesnt want to attribute the outcome to his injury alone.

I dont know, he said. Things happen for a reason, so I dont want to put all of that on me. It was a key component. . . . Ray and Paul needed some help so they were forced to make some trades, but it was out of my hands. God works in mysterious ways.

Daniels never stopped pulling for the Celtics. These were the players who huddled around him and wouldnt leave his side until he was taken off the court in February. They were also the players who visited him in the hospital following his surgery in late March after he had been traded.

It is not surprising Daniels, an unrestricted free agent, mentions the Cs as he talks about the next steps in his basketball career. While many players are exploring international options during the lockout, he is focusing first on the NBA.

I definitely would like to be anywhere where a team wants me, he said. Im keeping my options open. I still root for the guys on the Celtics. Its a great organization. I talk to Paul (Pierce) and Kevin and (Rajon) Rondo and all those guys. So Id be open to coming back there as well.

"On his thoughts of playing overseas, he says, Im not sure. I cant say because theres so much going on right now that we have to stick together first as a union, and us players have to try to do whats best for us to try to make something happen sooner than later. And hopefully it can be sooner.

In the meantime, Daniels continues to work toward getting game-ready. He is able to lift weights, shoot, and run Considering where I came from, laying down there, couldnt move, its definitely great, he said and hopes to be cleared for contact drills this month. His injury in February hasnt discouraged him from playing tough. He is looking forward to taking his first hard foul.

Ive got to see how I react to it first, he said. I know its going to hurt. . . . Once I get that first hit, that first bump, Ill be ok.

While working toward his return to basketball, Daniels is also involved in several other projects and passions.

This summer Daniels hosted the Q6 Foundation 5th Annual Celebrity Weekend in Orlando to benefit his charity, the Q6 Foundation, which helps underprivileged children. The foundation also raises money and awareness for health concerns including sickle cell anemia. Rondo and former Celtic Tony Allen continued to show their support for Daniels by attending the event.

As another avenue to inspire others, Daniels has been involved in a project that documented him and other athletes as they recover from injuries. Although he could not divulge too many details, he shared it lets people know what theyre going through to get back and get healthy.

When it comes to his music, Daniels is still writing songs and working with his own artists to release their mix tapes. While he penned lyrics when he first joined the Celtics in 2009 (My life is very awesome Relax like Kevin Cossom I got so much green That's why they signed your boy to Boston), he hasnt written verses about his injury. In this case, Daniels doesnt want art to imitate life.

I was thinking about it, but its kind of a touchy subject, he said. I dont like to really, I dont even like to really look at it. It was such a strange accident. For me, for that to happen, I could have been in the air and got it. Who knows what could have happened then. Im just glad it happened the way it did and I was able to break my fall on him (Arenas) a little bit because I couldnt brace myself or catch myself from hitting the floor.

Without looking too often in the past, Daniels continues to move forward.

He knows the road back to basketball will not be an easy one the undrafted veteran never had anything handed to him in the first place. But as he left the court on a stretcher, he never doubted his ability to get back in the game.

Im a guy I dont get too high on the highs or too low on the lows, he said. If that was going to be it for me, I was willing to accept it. But I knew that I still had love for the game and I still could play, so Im always going to work hard to try to get myself back to the things I love doing and get back on the court.

Its a message he sums up in less than 140 characters every time he tweets to his more than 30,000 followers. His signature beleedat hashtag has taken on a special meaning since that afternoon in February.

Basically whatever you believe in, it can happen, he said. With my situation, I know a lot of people probably think, Hes done. He wont be back.

But beleedat I will be back.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCameratoNBA. She can be reached at jessicacamerato@gmail.com.

Celtics' Ceiling-to-Floor profiles: An award-winning summer for Rozier?

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Celtics' Ceiling-to-Floor profiles: An award-winning summer for Rozier?

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Terry Rozier. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON -- Terry Rozier has every reason to feel good about himself after this year's Summer League, where he was clearly the Boston Celtics’ best player. 
 
But what does Summer League success really mean in the grand scheme of things?
 
This isn’t the Olympics, where a good couple of weeks in the summer can lead to sudden endorsement opportunities. And a bad summer, on or off the court, won’t necessarily result in your personal stock taking a Ryan Lochte-like dip, either.
 
For Rozier, the summer has been a continuation of his emergence during the playoffs last season against the Atlanta Hawks, when his numbers were significantly better across the board in comparison to what he did during the regular season.
 
And while his role at this point remains uncertain, there’s a growing sense that what we saw in the summer was more than just Rozier making the most of his opportunity to play. 
 
It was the 6-foot-2 guard playing with the kind of confidence and overall swagger that Boston hopes to see more of in this upcoming season.  
  
The Ceiling for Rozier: Most Improved Player, Sixth Man candidate
 
Rozier never wanted to see teammate Avery Bradley suffer a hamstring injury in Game 1 of Boston’s first-round series with Atlanta last season. But he knows if not for that injury, he wouldn't have played as much as he did, nor would he be viewed as someone who could seriously compete for minutes this season. 
 
That injury afforded Rozier playing time he had not seen in the 39 regular-season games he appeared in, when he averaged 8.0 minutes per contest.
 
In the playoffs, Rozier saw his playing time increase to 19.8 minutes per game, which naturally led to a rise in all of his statistics. 
 
It did more than help the Celtics compete with the Hawks. It provided a huge confidence boost for Rozier this past summer and will do the same going into training camp, where he believes he will be better-equipped to compete for playing time. 
 
Rozier already plays above-average defense for the Celtics. The big question mark for him has been whether he can knock down shots consistently. It certainly didn’t look that way during the regular season, when he shot 22.2 percent on 3s and just 27.4 percent from the field. 
 
Although the sample size is much smaller, he was able to shoot 39.1 percent from the field and 36.4 percent on 3s in the five playoff games he appeared in this past spring. 
 
So both Rozier and the Celtics feel good about the fact that his game in key areas such as shooting and assists are trending in the right direction. 
 
And if that continues he'll solidify a spot high atop the second unit, which could translate into him having a shot at garnering some Most Improved Player recognition.
 
The Floor for Rozier: Active roster
 
While his minutes may not improve significantly from a year ago, Rozier will likely enter training camp with a spot in Boston’s regular playing rotation.
 
On most nights the Celtics are likely to play at least four guards: Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Rozier. 
 
Look for him to get most of the minutes left behind by Evan Turner, who was signed by Portland to a four-year, $70 million deal this summer. 
 
Of course, Rozier’s minutes will be impacted in some way by how those ahead of him perform. But Rozier can’t consume himself with such thoughts. 
 
He has to force the Celtics’ coaches to keep him on the floor, And the only way to do that is to play well and contribute to the team’s success in a meaningful way. 
 
While his shooting has improved, Rozier is at his best when he lets his defense dictate his play offensively. 
 
In the playoffs last season, Rozier averaged 1.2 fast-break points per game, which was fifth on the team. 
 
Just to put that in perspective, Rozier averaged 19.8 minutes in the postseason. The four players ahead of him (Bradley, Thomas, Turner and Smart) each averaged more than 32 minutes of court time per night.
 
While it’s too soon to tell where Rozier fits into the rotation this season, his play this summer and overall body of work dating back to the playoffs last season makes it difficult to envision him not being on the active roster for most, if not all, of this season.

A make-or-break season ahead for Kelly Olynyk?

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A make-or-break season ahead for Kelly Olynyk?

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Kelly Olynyk. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON – The Celtics went into the playoffs last season well short of being at full strength. No player exemplified this more than Kelly Olynyk, a non-factor in postseason due to a right shoulder injury that required surgery in May.

He comes into this season facing a much stiffer route to playing time than his previous four seasons. While Jared Sullinger (Toronto) is gone, Boston brings in four-time All-Star Al Horford, in addition to returners Amir Johnson, Tyler Zeller and second-year big man Jordan Mickey, who is in line for a more expanded role this season.

Throw in the fact that Olynyk and the Celtics can reach terms on an extension before the start of the season (an unlikely occurrence because frankly it’s to both Boston and Olynyk’s benefit for him to be a restricted free agent next summer), and it’s clear just how important this season is to all involved.

Here’s a look at Olynyk’s ceiling as well as the floor for his game heading into this season.

The ceiling for Olynyk: Starter, Most Improved Player candidate

Kelly Olynyk has proven himself to be a much better contributor coming off the bench as opposed to starting. But no one will be shocked if Olynyk can play his way into a spot with the first group.  A 7-footer with legit 3-point range, Olynyk has shown flashes throughout his career of being a major problem for opponents because of his stretch-big skills.

And when teams have been a bit too eager in closing out or failed to box him out on a rebound, Olynyk has shown us all that “the bounce is real.”

He already ranks among the best big-man shooters all-time and needs just one made 3-pointer to join Dirk Nowitzki (1,701) and Andrea Bargnani (627) as the only 7-footers in league history with 500 or more made 3s.

In addition to making lots of 3s, Olynyk does it at a fairly efficient rate which can be seen in him shooting 40.5 percent on 3s last season which was tops among all NBA centers and made him one of just 20 players in the NBA to shoot at least 40 percent on 3s.

Although Olynyk’s defense has been considered among his biggest weaknesses, his defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions on the floor) of 97.7 was tops among Celtics players who logged at least 20 minutes per game last season.

If he can build off that, as well as continue to make teams pay with his long-range shooting, Olynyk could be one of the breakout performers this season for the Celtics and find himself on the short list of the NBA’s most improved players.

The bigger issue with Olynyk centers around his struggles holding position in the post as a rebounder. Because he’s a stretch big, you know he’s not going to haul in a ton of boards for you.

But he has to be better than last season when he grabbed 4.1 rebounds, which continued what has been a career regression in this area.

After averaging 5.2 boards as a rookie, he slipped to 4.7 in his second season and averaged a career-low 4.1 last season.

The floor for Olynyk: Active roster

Talk to anyone within the Celtics organization and they will not hesitate to point out the skillset that Olynyk has and how important he could potentially be for this team going forward.

Still, that’s part of the problem.

Olynyk has shown promise to be more than just a player in the rotation. He has the kind of skills that if he were to deliver them with more consistency, he would immediately become one of the team’s standout performers which would make Boston a much, much tougher team to defend.

But his game has been one marred by injuries and inconsistent play which, as you might expect, go hand-in-hand.

Even with what has been an uneven career, Olynyk has still managed to be a double-digit scorer in each of the past two seasons.

And his net rating (offensive rating minus defensive rating) of +5.2 is tops among players logging 20 or more minutes, too.

But even if he doesn’t elevate his game defensively or become a more reliable rebounder for Boston, Olynyk won’t be suiting up in street clothes as a healthy scratch anytime soon.

Olynyk has too much talent, and when you look at this Celtics roster, he fits a clear and well-defined need.

Pace and space remain keys to what Brad Stevens is trying to do with the Celtics and Olynyk’s strengths are an ideal addition.

But as we have seen with Stevens in the past, he’s not afraid to take a player out of the starting lineup or regular rotation, and bench them from time to time.

Just as it won’t surprise anyone to see Olynyk play a more prominent role potentially as a starter, the same is true if he struggles and finds himself racking up a few DNP-CDs (did not play- coaches decision) either.

But Olynyk has too much talent to fall too far off the Celtics’ radar, especially when you look at this roster and realize there’s no other player quite like him in terms of combining size, skill and perimeter shooting.

 

 

 

 

 

     

Could the '80s Celtics have won eight championships?

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Could the '80s Celtics have won eight championships?

In this episode, we sit-down with one of the best basketball writers in the country, Jackie MacMullan. Jackie covered the Celtics for the Boston Globe for several years, and collaborated with Larry Bird on his auto-biography. 

Jim Aberdale, producer of CSN’s documentary on the ‘86 Celtics, talks with MacMullan about the bitter rivalry between the Celtics and Lakers during the 80’s, how the tragedies the Celtics faced following the ‘86 title were difficult to believe, and covering the Golden Age of the NBA.