Krstic plays freely in return from injury


Krstic plays freely in return from injury

By A.Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON When players are hurt, the time off the court tends to give them a perspective that they didn't necessarily have earlier.

Need proof?

Look no further than Boston's Nenad Krstic, whose play off the bench was among the many reasons Boston was able to pull away for a 99-82 win over Philadelphia.

The Celtics (54-23) got eight points and six rebounds from Krstic, who came off the bench for the first time since being traded to Boston on Feb. 24.

More significant than the games played, was the two games he did not play in after suffering a bone bruise in his right knee against San Antonio last week.

Prior to the injury, Krstic was playing some of his worst basketball since becoming a Celtic.

Too often he would be out of position defensively.

And on offense, he would wait too long around the basket to make a move rather than take it up strong quickly.

"Maybe this is a good thing, missing two games," Krstic said. "Everything settled down in my head a little bit. Just sitting outside, watching the other guys playing. I think it helps."

When Krstic first arrived, he played with little thought on the court.

And the results were surprisingly positive.

But the more he tried to learn the various sets and the way the Celtics go about doing things, the more mistakes crept into his game.

On more than one occasion in recent weeks, Rivers has lit into Krstic for allowing his mistakes on offense to distract him from his job defensively.

But on Tuesday, it was clear that Krstic got back to just playing, and not thinking so much.

"You know what I say: thinking hurts the team," Rivers said. "I just thought he played with instincts. And he's starting to get our stuff a little bit better, too."

That combination gives the Celtics a player that help them in multiple ways.

For Krstic, he admits that the time off has helped him become even more comfortable with his new teammates.

"I got here first couple weeks. I realize I was thinking about making the right play, every play," Krstic said. "It's not going to help; just play basketball. Even if I make a mistake, Rivers is going to yell at me for five seconds. Just next play."

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

Horford's all-around play key in first regular season game with Celtics

Horford's all-around play key in first regular season game with Celtics

BOSTON – The Al Horford love fest continues with the veteran big man delivering yet another impressive performance for the Boston Celtics.

And this one?

Unlike his play in the preseason, Wednesday night's game counts.

Horford’s all-around play was pivotal to Boston holding on for a 122-117 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

CELTICS 122, NETS 117:

The four-time All-Star made several high-basketball IQ-type plays that in hindsight, were major key moments in Boston pushing its lead to as many as 23 points.

In the third quarter with Boston ahead 71-65, Horford took advantage of Brooklyn closing out too hard on him and drove into the lane. As the Nets defenders collapsed to take away a shot attempt in the lane, Horford swung the ball to Jae Crowder whose jumper triggered a 14-5 run.

Boston would lead by double figures until the last couple of minutes of the game.

“We have to keep playing the right way, for 48 minutes,” Horford said when asked about the team’s late-game collapse.

The late-game struggles aside, there was a lot to like about how the Celtics played throughout the first 40 minutes.

And a big part of that strong play has to be credited to Horford whose ability to help keep the ball moving allowed the Celtics to finish with 36 assists on 48 made field goals, the kind of opening night assist numbers that haven’t been seen around these parts in decades.

Horford was among those getting into the act, scoring 11 points to go with five rebounds and six assists.

To see him racking up guard-like assist numbers isn’t unusual when you consider he was third in the league last season in assists per game (3.2) for a center.

“Guys were moving the ball very well,” Horford said. “It’s kind of contagious.”

Said Crowder: “I never saw coaches clap on a three-second call. We moved the ball in the first quarter so much we got a three-second call. We passed up a lot of open shots. It just shows how unselfish we are playing as a unit.”

And while that selfless brand of basketball was on display at times last season, the addition of Horford seems to have taken it to another level.

“He opens the floor, he makes it easier for everybody; he’s always in the right spots, he’s a threat at all times,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “He can hit the 3, hit the mid-range, and also post up so he has the full package; a guy that makes it easy for everybody.”