Despite off-night, C's still confident in reserves


Despite off-night, C's still confident in reserves

By A. Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON The Boston Celtics came into the season believing their strength is in their numbers.

As impressive as their starting unit may be, the C's were just as confident in their second unit.

When the C's went to the bench, there would be no scoring lull, not with guys like Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels and Glen Davis as reserves.

But then came a few injuries.

That was followed by a few more.

Before you knew it, the Celtics' second unit looked like, well, a second unit.

Just as the injuries have forced the Celtics' starters to transform their play to some degree, the same can be said for the team's second unit.

Getting points from them would be nice, but no longer is it an necessity.

"If we're not getting shots to fall on offense, we have to provide energy and good defense," Celtics forward Luke Harangody told

That wasn't necessarily what happened in the first half of Friday's 99-94 win over Charlotte.

Boston went into the half tied at 42, with the second unit going scoreless while collectively missing all eight of their shots from the field. For the game, Boston's backups finished with nine points, five assists and six rebounds while missing 12 of their 15 shots from the field.

The starters re-established Boston's control in the third quarter, and the second unit players essentially maintained it.

Rivers had a conversation with his team in the third quarter reminding them about the importance of getting stops defensively, regardless of how good or bad things are going offensively.

"We've got a lot of guys with offensive minds on the second unit," Rivers said. "And if they're' not making shots, then all of a sudden they can't defend anymore because mentally they're still down on the offensive end. That's what we just keep working with them at; they're getting better at it."

No one disputes that the Celtics' reserves didn't have their best game offensively.

But that won't have any bearing on the Celtics' view of their second unit.

"There's going to be nights when they carry us, and vice-versa," said Rajon Rondo, who had 18 points, 13 assists and six rebounds. "We got the win. It doesn't matter if they scored or not. They did a great job defensively. They didn't give up a big lead or anything, so it was cool."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf


Celtics to begin season with Marcus Smart on the shelf

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics will be a bit shorthanded for the first few games of the season with Marcus Smart being out with a left ankle sprain injury.
The Celtics were holding out slim hope that it would heal in time for tomorrow’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
Smart confirmed a report shortly after the injury on October 19 that it would likely be at least a couple weeks before he returned to action.
Following Tuesday’s practice, one in which Smart watched from the sidelines, he gave an update on his ankle injury which occurred in the Celtics’ last preseason game, a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks.
“A couple weeks, that’s the projection (of a return) they gave me,” Smart said. “They want to make sure we can limit this from happening again.”
Smart said the two-week timetable began from the time of his injury, which means it’s likely that he will miss the Celtics’ first four games of the season.
That’s a much rosier timetable than the left ankle sprain injury Smart suffered as a rookie which kept him sidelined for several weeks afterwards.
“It shouldn’t be too long,” Smart said. “Better safe than sorry.”
His absence will certainly have an impact on a Celtics defense that ranked among the NBA’s best a year ago, and has only gotten stronger with the addition of Al Horford.
But the Celtics have been a "next man up" team for since Stevens has been the head coach. With Smart out, that’s not going to change.
“That’ll be a great opportunity for someone else to step up in his place,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Boston guard Isaiah Thomas echoed similar thoughts.
“When somebody’s hurt, the next man has to step up,” Thomas said. “Guys have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
And for Smart, it’ll mean displaying his leadership skills from the sideline.
He’s totally comfortable taking on that role right now.
For his teammates, it might take a little bit of getting used to. Smart has been very loquacious on the Celtics sideline since suffering the injury.
“These last four days, he has been yelling … I told him to shut up a few times,” quipped Isaiah Thomas. “That’s just him, especially when he’s not playing. He’s very vocal.”
Terry Rozier, the likely benefactor in terms of minutes played due to Smart’s injury, agreed.
“He’s been sitting right there in that seat,” said Rozier, adding, “and he hasn’t shut up yet. It’s good; you’re going to need a guy like that who is going to talk to you. It’s like a guy, he says things … it’s like he’s been in the league 10 years. He knows his stuff.”
Smart’s knowledge bank includes understanding that his current injury will probably happen again at some point. The key isn’t dealing with the injury, but how you move forward from it.
“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last,” Smart said. “I just have to let it heal on its own and let your body do what it does.”

Celtics pay tribute to Craig Sager in Tuesday's practice


Celtics pay tribute to Craig Sager in Tuesday's practice

WALTHAM, Mass. – At the end of Tuesday’s practice, the Boston Celtics donned a new-look jersey that was, well, quite colorful compared to the green-and-white clad uni-tops they usually wear.
It was in support of longtime NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager, who is currently fighting the good fight in a three-year-battle with leukemia, as well as the SagerStrong foundation.
The NBA on TNT, Nike and the Golden State Warriors will honor the 65-year-old Sager on opening night with Sager-inspired t-shirts, shirts that the Celtics wore on Tuesday followed by a team picture in which all the players as well as Boston’s coaches and support staff, yelled "Sager strong."
“A guy that means a lot to this game of basketball, a guy that means a lot to the NBA, the NBA family,” said Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas in describing Sager. “We wish him well, praying for him and his family daily.”
The shirts were inspired by the outfit he wore when he accepted the Jimmy Valvano Award at the ESPYs this past summer.
“The shirts are nice; look like something he would wear,” Thomas said with a grin. “I wouldn’t wear it, but I know he would.”