Rivers finds it hard to take Perkins off the floor

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Rivers finds it hard to take Perkins off the floor

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

PORTLAND, Ore. It's only been two games since Kendrick Perkins returned to the Boston Celtics, and he's already causing problems for Doc Rivers.

For the first few games, Rivers has every intention of limiting Perkins' minutes.

But there's just one problem -- the 6-foot-11 center is playing so well that keeping him off the floor is becoming tougher and tougher.

Perkins played just over 20 minutes on Thursday, but was an integral part of Boston's 88-78 slugfest of a win over Portland.

Just six months removed from surgery to repair a torn MCL and PCL suffered in Game Six of the NBA Finals, Perkins had a near double-double with 10 points and 9 rebounds.

"You forget about him out there," Rivers admitted. "I actually turned to Eddie Lacerte, the team's trainer and said, 'Hey, you gotta tell me.' "

While the C's medical staff is concerned with the stability of Perkins' right knee, Rivers is focused more on his conditioning.

"I felt good out there," Perkins said. "Just keep building. I probably could have played a little bit more, but listening to Doc, I know he's going to look out for me."

As well as Perkins played, Rivers is admittedly concerned about not pushing Perkins too hard, too soon.

"He was playing so well in the first half, I left him out there," said Rivers, who has said he would like to keep Perkins in the 16-18 minute range. "Once you go past that number, wind-wise and lung-wise, it's tough even after rest, to come back and play. I have to do a better job of monitoring his minutes."

Achieving that should be easier on Friday night against Phoenix.

The Celtics are banking on Shaquille O'Neal (right hip) to be back in the lineup, probably as a starter.

O'Neal has missed the C's last three games.

Prior to Thursday's win, both O'Neal and Rivers said the plan was for him to play against the Suns.

"I'm good; I've been good," O'Neal said. "Doc told me to take it easy. I've been doing other things; hot tub, hip strengthening exercises. I should be back by Phoenix."

As for Perkins, he's looking forward to playing in his first back-to-back set of games this season.

"Hopefully my body won't be aching," Perkins said. "I'm just looking forward to playing again. It seems like I been on vacation for six months. I have to earn my check a little bit."

The C's were in the midst of one of their worst nights in terms of turnovers, which led to a number of empty possessions.

But it was the solid defense and timely shots around the basket by Perkins, that helped the C's maintain a slim lead going into the fourth quarter.

"The thing when you have Perk back, when you lose Shaq who is a physical presence, you gain that in Perk," said Kevin Garnett. "He has great hands. He can finish around the basket. Defensively, he doesn't need a lot of help. He's a talker. We have that chemistry and rapport with him. To have him back to be a force . . . it's good to have Perk back."

Even if he is making it difficult for Rivers to keep him on the bench, which will probably change soon.

Rivers said he isn't sure when Perkins will return to the starting lineup, but he reiterated on Thursday that it was going to happen.

"He's going to re-enter it. It's just a matter of when," Rivers said. "Perk's a starter, and he'll be a starter at some point. I like our starting lineup with him in it. I like our bench with Baby and Shaq. I think that's terrific."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Avery Bradley elected to NBA All-Defensive First Team

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Avery Bradley elected to NBA All-Defensive First Team

BOSTON -- It seems that while Avery Bradley comes back every season with something new that he’s added to his game offensively, his defense has always been solid.

But this past year, Bradley, 26, was more committed to being not just a great on-the-ball defender, but also to expanding his game at that end of the floor to be a better help defender, too.

Bradley’s efforts didn't go unnoticed. The NBA announced Wednesday that he was among the players named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team.

It was Bradley's first time being named to the first team. His only other all-league recognition defensively came in 2013, when he was named to the league's second unit.

Bradley's play certainly was pivotal in his selection. But it didn't hurt that Portland's C.J. McCollum praised Bradley via social media as the best perimeter defender in the NBA.

"I don't think it's close," tweeted McCollum. 

San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard was the lone unanimous choice on the first team. In addition to Leonard and Bradley, the first team also included Golden State’s Draymond Green, Los Angeles Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan, and Jordan’s teammate Chris Paul.

Of the first-team players, Bradley was third in total points (149), which included 62 first-team votes and 25 second-team votes. The only players with more first-team votes were Leonard (130) and Green (123).

Players were awarded two points for a first-team vote and one point for a second-team vote.

The All-NBA Defensive Second team included Paul Millsap of Atlanta, Paul George of Indiana, Hassan Whiteside of Miami, ex-Celtic and current Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen and Chicago’s Jimmy Butler.

Bradley wasn’t the only Celtic to receive some all-Defensive love from voters. Jae Crowder had a total of 47 points, which included 3 first-team votes. His 47 points were the third-highest among players not named to the first or second team.  Also, Celtics guard Marcus Smart received seven points which included 2 first-team votes.

Olynyk: Tough call to have surgery, but it was right thing to do

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Olynyk: Tough call to have surgery, but it was right thing to do

BOXFORD, Mass. -- It was just last week that Kelly Olynyk underwent right shoulder surgery that will keep him from playing for the Canadian National Team this summer in their quest for an Olympics berth in Rio, as well as have him sidelined until sometime in October. 

And yet there was the Celtics center on Wednesday with his right arm in a sling, chatting it up with kids at Spofford Pond School as part of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) lab during an unveiling ceremony, courtesy of the Celts and National Grid.

The C's and National Grid purchased 25 Chromebooks, 13 Samsung Galaxy Tablets and a 65-inch Samsung Smart TV as well as other high-tech, education-related items.

“I love the opportunity to come out, give back to the community,” said Olynyk who was also joined by former Celtic Leon Powe and Terry Sobolewski, the Chief Customer Officer for National Grid Massachusetts. “I’ve been sitting in my living room the last eight days, looking at the same four walls.”

And for Olynyk, the days of going stir crazy won’t end anytime soon.

The 7-footer had surgery on May 16, the day after he told CSNNE.com that if he elected to have surgery he would be sidelined for five months.

On Wednesday, Olynyk reiterated that the timeline for him to resume full contact had not changed.

Olynyk told CSNNE.com earlier that the surgery was “inevitable,” but that didn’t make it any easier.

“Probably the hardest decision of my life,” Olynyk said. “As far as weighing the national team, the opportunity to play in the Olympics. I played with Team Canada the last eight years, waiting for this opportunity, waiting for this day to come where we’d be on this stage, have this before us. But with the Celtics . . . talking to a bunch of people, it was inevitable that I was going to need surgery.”

Among the biggest concerns for Olynyk was the possibility of playing with Team Canada and suffering another right shoulder injury that would require surgery and potentially lead to him missing the start of the season.

By having the surgery last week Olynyk is expected to resume practicing with the Celts in the middle of October, which would give him a couple weeks of having been cleared before the season starts.

“I couldn’t miss next year,” said Olynyk who added that the decision to have the surgery was his and did not involve the Celtics pressuring him to do so. “We’re moving in the right direction. You want to keep that momentum going. It was a really tough decision. But it was something I needed to do.”

Olynyk said he will be in a sling for at least two weeks, adding that he will be in it for another 10 days or so.

“My guess is you progress, getting that motion back, making sure everything is fine, all that kind of stuff,” he said.

A healthy Olynyk could prove vital to the growth of his game as well as the Celtics’ desire to build off of last season’s 48-win club that made it to the playoffs for the second year in a row but also suffered a second consecutive first-round defeat.

Last season, Olynyk averaged 10.0 points per game and shot a career-best 40.5 percent from 3-point range. A stronger Olynyk could give the Celtics more options in how they want to use him going forward. For the most part, Boston likes to have Olynyk on the floor because of his perimeter shooting, which helps with spacing. But if he’s physically stronger, Boston can look to post him up from time to time as well, which would make him a much more dangerous weapon offensively.

No one anticipates Olynyk will suddenly morph into a dominant, inside-outside scoring threat. But added strength does give him a chance to improve as both a rebounder and defender, two areas in which Olynyk was up and down this past season.

And admittedly he was at his worst during the playoffs, when the Celtics desperately needed someone -- anyone -- to help space the floor as the Hawks packed in the paint, which limited the drives to the basket by Isaiah Thomas.

“(I was) cleared [medically to play], but I wasn’t able to help the team at all. I couldn’t do anything,” Olynyk said. “My arm . . . I couldn’t hold off one of these kids with my arm. Shooting pains, it was giving out. Motions without contact were okay. But once you put any contact on my arm, it was done. So I couldn’t do anything.”

Olynyk is hopeful the surgery will alleviate the issues with the shoulder, which sidelined him for 12 games in addition to limiting his effectiveness in the playoffs.

“[The doctors] tell me [I’m] going to be stronger than [I’ve] ever felt, ever been,” Olynyk said.

2016 NBA Draft Scouting Reports

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2016 NBA Draft Scouting Reports

CSN’s NBA draft scouting reports are your go-to resource leading up to the 2016 NBA Draft on June 23.

Video analysis is provided by Tim Welsh and Dalen Cuff. Welsh spent 13 seasons coaching college basketball and is best known as the former Providence Friars head coach, where he spent 10 seasons and led the team to multiple appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Welsh is joined by CSN anchor Dalen Cuff, who played four seasons in the Ivy League at Columbia.

Text analysis is provided by Kevin O’Connor with full scouting reports of each player’s strengths, weaknesses, and their fit on the Boston Celtics. O’Connor has previously been the lead draft analyst for SB Nation and Sporting News, and publishes his own NBA Draft Guide.

With eight draft picks, the Boston Celtics are in a position to make a splash. They have picks throughout the draft, so this is the year to learn everything you can about the draft.