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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Celtics-Thunder preview: Another chance against a top-tier team

Celtics-Thunder preview: Another chance against a top-tier team

Hosting the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 25, the Boston Celtics had the perennial title contenders on the ropes with the lead in the fourth quarter only to lose it and the game, 109-103.

On the road at Houston, one of the Western Conference’s top teams, the Celtics led in the fourth quarter and wound up losing their Dec. 5 matchup 107-106 as Al Horford missed what would have been a game-winning lay-up as time expired.

Boston played well in both games, but not well enough to win which unfortunately for the Green Team has been how things have gone when they’ve faced some of the better teams in the NBA this season.

They are hoping to break that trend tonight when they hit the road and face the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder (14-9) come in with a slightly better record than the Celtics (13-10).

Boston’s issue isn’t that they can’t play with the better teams.

It’s their finish that needs work.

Boston has lost five of its six games this season against teams that are currently among the top-4 in their respective conferences. 

Losses to San Antonio and Houston only highlight Boston not being able to make the late-game runs needed to win.

Even in their 101-94 loss to Toronto on Friday, it was the Raptors’ ability to make one clutch play after another when it mattered most, that proved to be what was needed to propel them to victory.

“That’s what good teams do; they execute at the end of the game,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “We just have to execute better and get stops at the end of the game. That’s what it comes down to.”

And while the Celtics have a number of returners from last season, every season brings about a different team and with that, a need to learn how to collectively be successful especially down the stretch in close games.

“We’re learning,” Bradley said following the Raptors loss. “We’re moving on to the next game.”

And that would be the Thunder who come in having won six of their last seven games.

Of course when it comes to the Thunder, everything starts with Russell Westbrook who is on everyone’s short list for league MVP.

He is averaging a triple-double this season with 30.9 points, 11.3 assists and 10.8 rebounds per game.

“He’s amazing,” said Boston’s Terry Rozier who will likely spend some time defending Westbrook tonight. “He’s going to be aggressive. We have to try and find a way to stop that. He’s putting up video game stats. It’s tough but we gotta do something.”

The Celtics will likely lean heavily on Marcus Smart and Bradley, a first-team all-NBA defensive selection last season, when it comes to trying to slow down Westbrook.

“Russell’s a good player,” Bradley said. “I look forward to every matchup. If it’s him, whoever it is, I look forward to it. That’s what this league is about.”

It’s also about growth and development of franchises into title contenders, something the Celtics are eager to continue pushing towards tonight.

Horford spent the previous nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, advancing to the playoffs every season.

He saw first-hand how they went from a team that could barely get into the playoffs, into one that produced four all-stars in one season and had the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Horford saw the loss to Toronto as an example of a really good team doing what great teams do and that’s finding a way to win regardless of how things are going most of the night.

“We made a run early (against Toronto), they stayed with it, didn’t rattle and eventually got over us,” Horford said. “We’re growing as a group.”