Krstic getting comfortable around basket


Krstic getting comfortable around basket

By Jessica Camerato

BOSTON - When Nenad Krstic was traded to the Boston Celtics this season, he was revered as a versatile big man who could spread the floor with his mid-range jumper.

He gave the team a new look, adding options on offense they didnt have in the past with Kendrick Perkins, a predominately low post player.

But as Krstics time with the Celtics has gone on, he has become more aggressive at the basket. And with that, he has become more comfortable on the court.

Im a big guy and I like to be closer to the basket, he told following the Celtics 104-88 win over the Washington Wizards. If youre a big guy you dont want to start the game jumpshooting. You want to open up the game with an easy layup or a foul and get to the free throw line to just get you going a little bit.

Krstic says after playing outside of the paint with the Oklahoma City Thunder for more than two seasons, he is happy to be spend more time in the lane. He started Fridays game in place of Jermaine ONeal and scored 17 points, along with six rebounds, in 27 minutes.

It was only his third game back since suffering a bone bruise in his right knee, and he is feeling good getting to the hoop.

I know my game, he said. I know I was not myself with Oklahoma City because I played at a different level for almost three seasons, so I kind of lost it, your game. Its just hard when you want to come back and play inside-outside like Im playing right now. I think it just takes time to get that and get confidence again.

Krstic isnt abandoning his mid-range jumpshot - hes enhancing his offensive game by giving the Celtics different looks, both away from and at the rim. He says that while he is used to playing with his back to the basket for the Serbian National Team, he switching it up a little bit on the Cs.

The Celtics welcome Krstics contributions, no matter where they come from on the court.

I think Nenad, his better days are coming, said Kevin Garnett. I love the fact that he can shoot from 17 to 19 feet. I love the fact that he has a lot of confidence in himself. I think that the difficulties are him learning our schemes and how hard we do things here. Tonight was a prime example of him just being aggressive.

JaVale McGees a tough match up for him but he figures it out. This is not his first time playing center. Hes been in the league for a while. And thats what you need, thats what you want. You want that versatility, but at the same time that confidence to go out and compete.

Allen Finds Rhythm Early

Ray Allens shot attempts have been a topic of concern as of late. His shot attempts per game have decreased from an average of 14.4 in February to 11.5 in March, down to 8.3 in April entering Fridays game.

Allen has said that he needs to find this rhythm early in order to be effective. He got off to the start he was looking for against the Wizards, making his first jumpshot just 27 seconds into the game.

I think we ran harder, he said. Offensively, we started our business a lot earlier than we had been. We got the shots that we wanted.

Always focused on efficiency, Allen finished the game with 13 points off of 5-for-10 shooting. In spite of a 3-for-11 performance against the Chicago Bulls, he has shot over 50 percent from the field over the last five games as the Celtics gear up for the playoffs.

Id like to (for me personally) to have a good rhythm, he said. Everything from defensively being in the right position. Offensively, its one thing if the ball doesnt go in, but us executing what our sets are, knowing who is going to be where. I dont want to go in guessing in the playoffs.

On the Road Again

With three games left in the regular season, the Celtics have to play a back-to-back on the road before returning to the TD Garden on Wednesday night for their regular season finale against the New York Knicks.

The Celtics (32-8 home, 23-16 away) head to Miami to play the Heat on Sunday. The Heat are 29-11 on their own turf. Then it's off to Washington on Monday, where the Wizards are 18-21.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

WATCH: Celtics vs. Raptors

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Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

BOSTON – Avery Bradley doesn’t mind being a standout, but this is probably not what he had in mind. 

Injuries have ravaged the Boston Celtics’ starting five to the point where only one player, Bradley, has been with the first unit in all 22 games this season. 

Just like Bradley was looked upon to step his game up in the absence of Isaiah Thomas (right groin) at Orlando on Wednesday, he will once again be challenged to lead Boston (13-9) to victory tonight when the Thomas-less Celtics face the Toronto Raptors. 

Bradley’s emergence as a two-way talent this season has overshadowed at times what has been another season of elite play defensively. 

And he’ll need to be on top of his defensive game tonight against a Raptors All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. 

Both Lowry and DeRozan present a different kind of challenge for Bradley who will spend time defending each of them at various points during the game. 

Lowry has good size, strength and deceptive quickness in addition to an under-rated perimeter game that will keep Bradley on his toes for sure. 

This season he's averaging 20.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and a career-high 7.6 assists while shooting 42.9 percent on 3's which is also a career mark. 

And DeRozan is having the kind of season that might get him a few league MVP votes. 

His 28.0 points per game ranks fifth in the NBA, but making his numbers even more impressive is that unlike most guards DeRozan doesn’t generate much offense from three-pointers.

DeRozan averages 1.8 three-point attempts per game which is the fewest attempts among any player ranked among the league’s top-25 scorers.

The 6-foot-7 All-Star is the master of the mid-range game which accounts for 31.5 percent of the points he scores. And when he’s not shooting the mid-range, he’s working a defender in one-on-one iso-situations. 

That helps explain why 76.4 percent of his two-point made field goals are unassisted. 

But here’s the thing about Bradley. 

As much as we give him props for what he does defensively, it’s his offense that has put him on the map as a potential All-Star this season. 

Bradley is averaging a career-high 17.9 points while shooting 47.2 percent from the field. He’s also averaging a career-high 7.8 rebounds per game in addition to shooting a career-high 40.7 percent on 3's.

But for Bradley, individual accolades are only going to come his way by the Celtics winning games; preferably against above-average teams like the Toronto Raptors.

And that would make both Bradley and the Celtics stand out this season.