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

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

Blakely: Celtics not as feared as they were last season

BOSTON -- On more than one occasion Monday night, the Boston Celtics were a discombobulated bunch with some players thinking they were running one play, while others were thinking the play called was something totally different.
 
You see that stuff in the preseason and to a certain extent in the regular season for a lot of teams. It is in those moments that we’re reminded that this Boston Celtics team is a work in progress on so many levels.
 
Because of that, we all need to hit the pause button when talking about them as a team inching closer towards Eastern Conference supremacy.
 
After the first month of the season, they have yet to show that they are going to be better than last season’s 48-win ball club.
 
The big problem a year ago was the offense bogging down and for the most part, not making shots. This year, it’s the team’s defense that has let them down on many nights.
 
And with that comes a sobering reminder this crew is good, but at best are maybe top-five in the East.
 
As a team on the rise, beating teams you’re not supposed to has to happen with some semblance of regularity.
 
There were only three teams on the Celtics’ docket this season thus far that they should have been beaten by without there being any argument: Golden State, San Antonio and Cleveland.
 
They were beaten in all three, two of which (Golden State and Cleveland) had final scores that did not indicate the level of dominance they had over the Celtics.
 
The average margin of defeat in the three games was 9.3 points, but two of them (San Antonio and Golden State) were at the TD Garden, which is supposed to be the equalizer for upset-minded teams.
 
But in each game, Boston put up a decent fight only to fail to emerge victorious.
 
The struggles against the upper echelon teams of the NBA has nothing to do with not having a superstar or a great rebounder or any of the kazillion reasons/excuses offered up as to why they’re not better.
 
It’s hunger.
 
It’s effort.
 
It’s about being blinded by the internet clicks that tout them as one of the best teams in the East, and them not seeing the danger that comes with embracing all that patting on the back.
 
It makes you soft.
 
It makes you fat and happy.
 
And maybe most significant, it creates a false sense of arrival before you’ve left the tarmac.
 
That’s where the Boston Celtics are right now: a team that seems to have forgotten why they were the team nobody wanted to play last year.
 
It wasn’t that teams feared playing them. It was the fact that they knew playing the Celtics would be tough, and it would force them to play a lot closer to their full potential than they were used to if they wanted to win.
 
It was because everyone knew that to beat the Celtics, you don’t have a choice but to play hard because you damn well knew they would.
 
Not anymore.
 
They bring that toughness to the game in small doses, like an intra-venous drip full of hope and promise, providing just enough to life to keep their fans optimistic but not nearly enough to kill the noise of their haters and critics.
 
And while the season is still young, the Celtics need to start racking up some quality wins.
 
Right now, their most impressive win is a toss-up between beating Charlotte 104-98 on Oct. 29, or a 94-92 win at Detroit on Nov. 19.
 
Boston plays at Orlando on Wednesday, a team that’s likely to be back in the lottery again. But after that, they travel back to Boston where they’ll host Toronto -- a game that they desperately need to not only to pad their win total but also provide a much-needed boost of energy and confidence going forward.

The Celtics have to find that hunger, that collective desire that we’ve seen in the past which has propelled them to greater heights than we’ve seen thus far.
 
Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford… you can go down the roster and the mission for all of them has to be the same: play harder, for longer, and be smarter about it, because this team has too much collective talent to be just three games above .500.
 
At 12-9, Boston is third in the East and trail conference-leading Cleveland by three games for the best record in the conference. But then you look at the teams behind the Celtics and realize that they’re only two games out of having the ninth-best record in the East.
 
It speaks in part to the season still being in its infancy stage. But it’s also telling as to how Boston does not have a huge margin of error when it comes to losing winnable games.
 
And as we’ve seen thus far, the Celtics can play with any team in the NBA and hold their own.
 
But beating them is a totally different narrative that this squad has yet to write.