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Watch: Celtics-Hawks recap

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff December 31, 2013 06:04 PM

Here's a video recap of the Celtics' 92-91 loss to the Hawks Tuesday at TD Garden.

Baseline Perspective: Korver's streak

Posted by Yoon S. Byun December 31, 2013 06:00 PM

The Celtics lost their final game of the year to Atlanta 92-91 and will begin 2014 with a 13-18 record.

One storyline coming into the game was Hawks guard-forward Kyle Korver's consecutive three-point streak. He came into the game shooting over 50 percent from behind the arc, making a three-pointer in 100 consecutive games. The Celtics played tough defense on Korver and he was 0-5 from three until the fourth quarter.

A view of each shot attempt or reaction as well as one off-beat moment:

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Kris Humphries blocked my view, so this is an awkward composition of Korver watching his three go in after he was fouled by Gerald Wallace.

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A timeout came to an end as Celtics CSNNE Celtics Sideline Reporter Abby Chin was doing her stand-up. Gerald Wallace called out her name and came on camera for a quirky moment. I saw the funny juxtaposition of their shoes first, then her reaction.

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Happy New Year!

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Hawks

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff December 31, 2013 11:21 AM

The Celtics play their final game of what has been an eventful calendar year today against the improved and surprising Hawks, who will be without center Al Horford for the remaidnder of the season after he decided to have surgery for a torn pectoral muscle sustained on Dec. 26 vs. Cleveland. The Hawks were beaten 109-102 by the Orlando Magic on Sunday but are still the third seed in the Eastern Conference.


STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (13-17)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Rajon Rondo

ATLANTA HAWKS (17-14)
PG Jeff Teague
SG Kyle Korver
SF Mike Scott
PF Paul Millsap
C Elton Brand

Inactives: Al Horford, John Jenkins

Officials: Marc Davis, Marat Kogut, Michael Smith

TV, radio: 1 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, (WBZ 98.5 FM).

Pregame notes:

• Gerald Wallace is good to play after leaving the win over Cleveland after a shot to the nose. His exit was just precautionary, according to coach Brad Stevens.

• Atlanta guard Shelvin Mack is a former player under Stevens at Butler and the first Butler player to reach the NBA from Stevens' teams. He is averaging 7 points and 3.6 assists.

• With Horford out, the Hawks are going with an extra small lineup but are also using European product Pero Antic in an expanded role. He played 20 minutes off the bench in Atlanta's loss to Orlando.

• Mike Scott will make his first start of the season and second career today at small forward. Scott averages 7.1 points in 13.9 minutes per game.

• The Celtics will practice New Years Day before flying to Chicago for a Jan. 2 matchup with the Bulls. They will return home for the second of a back-to-back with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Stevens: D-League stint possibility for Rondo

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff December 30, 2013 03:20 PM


WALTHAM -- Rajon Rondo practiced again with the Celtics on Monday and is slowly returning to basketball shape and perhaps his rehabilitation may include a stint with Maine of the NBA Development League, according to coach Brad Stevens.

Stevens said Rondo likely wouldn't return to the Celtics during their five-game West Coast road trip beginning on Jan. 5 but he could spent time with Maine practicing and playing in D-League games before coming back to the NBA.

Rondo has not played since Jan. 25 because of a torn right anterior cruciate ligament.

"I would make that a decision on him and our staff," Stevens told the Globe following practice at the Celtics Training Center at Health Point. "That is something that has been discussed, probably some positives and negatives to that, but at the end of the day, it is an option as part of his rehabilitation."

When asked if Rondo would travel west with the Celtics, Stevens said: "And playing? I have not been given any indication he would be playing that soon. It's going to be on him. Physically, I think he's looking better and better. But that's to be expected, you're going to gain more confidence but I don't know when that translates to ready to play."

Stevens former point guard at Butler, Ronald Nored, is a player development coach in Maine and he and Rondo have discussed the possibility of Rondo spending some time there.

"That would be positive," Stevens said of Nored's presence with Maine. "The extra practice time they have between games is a possibility, getting a chance to play multiple games in that area is a positive. So there are a lot of positives, getting your legs underneath you a little bit."

The Celtics have not used their D-League affiliate for rehabilitation over the past few years. The last Celtics regular to see a stint there was Avery Bradley during his rookie season. Little-used rookies Fab Melo and Kris Joseph spent time with Maine last season.

"I think the D-League will be used for rehabbing more than it has been, over the next four or five years," Stevens said. "And it makes a lot of sense. It's like all the time you see major league basketball players play in Triple-A, you see that all that. But that would be a question for (Rondo). We have talked about it in our offices. It's a possibility for sure."

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Cavaliers

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff December 28, 2013 12:15 PM

The Celtics return home after a six-day break for a two-game homestand against Cleveland and Atlanta. The Celtics have a stretch of games where they can approach the .500 mark before embarking on a West Coast trip that will be daunting. Boston has a four-game stretch with the Cavaliers, Hawks, Bulls and Pelicans before heading to Oklahoma City next Sunday.

Cleveland, meanwhile, is reeling after suspending Andrew Bynum indefinitely and it is expected to try to trade the mercurial center before Jan. 7.


STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (12-17)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Rajon Rondo

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (10-18)
PG Kyrie Irving
SG C.J. Miles
SF Earl Clark
PF Tristan Thompson
C Anderson Varejao

Inactives: Andrew Bynum, Sergey Karasev

Officials: David Guthrie, Sean Corbin, Karl Lane

TV, radio: 1 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, (WBZ 98.5 FM).

Pregame notes:

• Despite a small injury scare when Avery Bradley and Gerald Wallace bumped knees in practice, the Celtics are fully healthy besides Rajon Rondo.

• Cavaliers coach Mike Brown was asked about the suspension: "He's a good player. I think everybody saw glimpses of it. It's indefinite. I'm not trying to be funny, but everybody knows what 'indefinite' means."

• The Celtics are expected to practice the next two days before hosting the Atlanta Hawks on New Years Eve. The Celtics play 10 of their 17 January games on the road.

Rondo says January return is not realistic, needs to get in game shape

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff December 22, 2013 09:25 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -- Though he has been cleared for full-contact practice and recently scrimmaged with his teammates, Celtics guard Rajon Rondo said he still has a long way to go before he plays his first game after sitting out since last season with a knee injury.

"It might be mid-January, late February, I’m going to come back when the time is right and I get my stamina," Rondo said after the Celtics' 106-79 loss to the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sunday.

He later, "I’m just listening to my body. If my body told me I was 100 percent, I’d be playing now. I’m not.”

The key issue now, as Rondo pointed out multiple times, is his conditioning.

"My endurance is key for me," he said. "I don’t want to come back and not be fully 100 percent as far as my health and me being in shape as well, because the worst thing is me coming back and not being in shape and have another injury, so I want to make sure I’m in basketball condition."

Rondo is back practicing, but he said there's a huge difference between practicing and being in game shape.

"You can run all the sprints you want, off the court, get on the bike and do that conditioning, but being out for 10, 11 months without playing the game of basketball. It’s not easy to get back in shape by just doing those type of things," he said. "You’ve got to play basketball plays."

But Rondo said he has confidence in his right knee after having surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in February. He even fell a few times during a recent scrimmage with teammates and said he didn't worry at all about his knee.

"The knee is fine," he said. "It’s not about falls. That’s part of my game. I fall. I fell before. The last time I scrimmaged wasn’t the first time I fell. I’m not afraid to hit the floor, it’s just a matter of going up and down the court."

How did he feel after that scrimmage?

"It felt good [to get back out there]," he said. "I got winded very quickly. We only played two pickup games and I was tired by the second one, so it’s just a matter of time. We continue to go as hard as I can in those pickup games and practice time and get some repetitions and get my conditioning up."

Derrick Rose of the Bulls and Kobe Bryant of the Lakers both came back from major injuries this season, and then suffered new injuries that will keep them sidelined, but Rondo said what happened to them doesn't weigh on his mind.

"Those are two big MVP players that have had unfortunate injuries like that, but a lot of guys came back and did fine," Rondo said.

Rondo emphasized that he didn't want to put a timetable on when he might return.

"I just want to practice," he said. "I just want to get as much practice time as possible. I haven’t practiced in 12 months. I just want to get back in the rhythm and flow of things, get my timing back.

"A lot of these guys I haven’t played with, so they don’t know where I am going to throw the ball. They’ve been playing with Jordan [Crawford] and Phil [Pressey], so I don’t want to come back and turn the ball over at a high rate. So just the pickup game I played the other day was good for guys knowing that certain passes they might not think are coming are coming, so I want to continue to get guys rhythm. Guys like [Jared Sullinger], Gerald Wallace back-cutting, Avery [Bradley] back-cutting, I've just got find my personnel and know what we need to do going forward."

Of course, Rondo is eager to get back to playing again.

"It’s what I’ve been doing my entire life," he said. "[I've] never had a time where I had to sit out this much, so it’s a very humbling experience. I just want to play the game."

Are there any more tests that he must pass?

"Nah, I don’t think I have to pass any more tests," he said. "I have to pass tests for myself. I know what I felt like before I hurt my [knee]. When I get back to feeling that ... then I’ll be back."

Baseline Perspective: pre-game rituals

Posted by Yoon S. Byun December 21, 2013 06:11 PM

I'm happy to be writing my first post for the Celtics Blog. I'm a staff photographer at the Globe and cover a few games every month. I thought I'd share a point of view that the average viewer doesn't see – the view from my baseline position on the floor (as well as general shots I take from the floor).

Through the season I may pick a topic, an off-beat moment of a game, or perspectives from certain plays. My first post is about pre-game rituals.

Last season, we were well accustomed to a couple of pre-game rituals. Former Celtic Paul Pierce would shoot a couple of half-court threes during warm ups, point guard Rajon Rondo would grab the rebounds and toss them to teammates, including an alley oop to forward Jeff Green. Former Celtic Ray Allen would dribble the game ball next to the Celtics Dancers. And I must have 100s of pictures of former-Celtic Kevin Garnett's ceremonial chest-pounding.

This season, after 28 games, here are a couple of rituals I've observed:

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Lucky running out with the flag. This has happened since I've been covering them, but always makes for a fun picture.

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Jordan Crawford usually gets really low as he runs through the tunnel of kids to give them high fives.

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The pre-game montage changes every few games with new highlights. The players always watch and Jeff Green usually stands to the left of bench basket dribbling a ball.

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Warm ups.

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The moment the National Anthem ends MarShon Brooks and Kris Humphries always try to beat each other to the rim. Whoever gets there first hangs while the other person horses around with him from the ground. I've seen variations and I'm not sure if it's something they did when they were teammates on the Brooklyn Nets.

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I'm not sure if I missed this last season. As the players throw off their warm-up suits Jeff Green jumps into Strengh and Conditioning Coach Bryan Doo, they bow to each other, then take a fighting stance.

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Here are some more photos from today's game.

Happy Holidays!

Welcome to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for Celtics-Pacers

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff December 21, 2013 12:42 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -- Celtics coach Brad Stevens makes his return his roots as Butler University coach for the first time since taking the Boston job. He was welcomed back by a local media horde and lots of questions about Butler, his admiration for the Pacers and the adjustment to the NBA. Meanwhile, the Celtics are trying to snap a two-game losing streak after a difficult loss Saturday against Washington. The Pacers snapped a two-game skid by wiping out Houston on Friday and are a sparkling 12-1 at home.


STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (12-16)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Rajon Rondo

INDIANA PACERS (21-5)
PG George Hill
SG Lance Stephenson
SF Paul George
PF David West
C Roy Hibbert

Inactives: Solomon Hill

Officials: Jason Phillips, Kane Fitzgerald, Karl Lane

TV, radio: 6 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, (WBZ 98.5 FM).

Pregame notes:

• Stevens said he had a talk with Courtney Lee, who is not happy with his playing time. Stevens said Lee expressed his disappointment and Stevens said Lee will be an integral part of the team.

• Danny Granger is back for the Pacers and is expected to play tonight. Granger missed most of last season with knee issues and then the first five weeks with a strained calf. Indiana coach Frank Vogel said Granger will play in back-to-back sets.

• The Celtics will take the next three days off before returning to practice Thursday. They get six days off before facing the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 28.

Rockets end Omer Asik talks, 'plan to keep him for now'

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff December 19, 2013 10:06 AM

The Houston Rockets have halted the trade talks centered around 7-footer Omer Asik, sources tell Yahoo! Sports reporter Adrian Wojnarowski. The Rockets had created a self-imposed deadline of Thursday to send the unhappy Asik to another team but "will keep him for now", according to the report. Wojnarowski reports that Asik's agent, Arn Tellem, received notice from Rockets GM Dary Morey that talks have ended.

An NBA source confirms to the Globe's Gary Washburn that the talks are dead, adding that they weren't as strong as had been circulated.

The hiatus at least temporarily halts the momentum that Asik will end up in Boston. A source told WashburnWednesday night that the Celtics were nearing a deal to send Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, and a first-round draft pick to Houston for Asik. On Thursday morning, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub that his team is involved in trade discussions but that no deals were close to completion.

"When you read our name out there, sometimes it's true and sometimes it's not," Ainge said. "I think the reports are embellished, but we are having discussions and seeing what's out there."

Ainge said Thursday he has talked to the agents for Bass and Lee about the trade talks. Ainge would not address Asik specifically Thursday but admitted, "The NBA is loaded with quality players, and big guys are much harder to find than small guys. ... Everyone's looking for big guys that can defend."

Ainge said he communicates with head coach Brad Stevens daily, and the two are on the same page, both "for the short term and the long term." At 12-15 the Celtics are in first place in the Atlantic Division. The Rockets have a self-imposed deadline of today to complete a deal for Asik, who is owed $15 million next season.

Jared Sullinger completes the 'tip-in of the century'

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff December 19, 2013 09:39 AM

Watching regular season games in any sport can be a grind, but loyal Celtics fans were rewarded Wednesday night with one of the more fun moments/plays in recent memory.

The Celtics gained possession with 0.2 seconds remaining in the first quarter of their game vs. the Pistons after Detroit's Kyle Singler mindlessly held the ball and was called for traveling for instead of chucking it at the hoop. CSN color commentator Tommy Heinsohn leads you into the play.

"Well there's 0.2 on the shot clock, so nothing's gonna happen here unless it's the best tip-in play of the century."

Welp. Heinsohn and play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman's reaction and laughter after the play is fantastic. It was a tremendous play by Sullinger and a fun little moment in a long season. A special thanks to @MrTrpleDouble10 for sharing the video clip.

Celtics, Rockets working on deal for Omer Asik

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff December 18, 2013 07:13 PM


The Celtics and Rockets are "close" to a trade that would send disgruntled center Omer Asik to Boston for forward Brandon Bass, swingman Courtney Lee and a first-round pick, according to an NBA source.

The two sides are haggling over which first-round pick the Celtics would relinquish. Boston has nine first-round picks over the next five drafts but would rather not give up one of its two picks in the 2014 draft. The Celtics would much rather give Houston their No. 1 pick from the Los Angeles Clippers in 2015, which is expected to be in the lower first round.

Asik has been unhappy in Houston since the club acquired Dwight Howard in the summer. General manager Daryl Morey envisioned the duo playing together, but Asik never warmed to the idea and demanded a trade. Morey has apparently set a Thursday deadline for the deal and the Celtics, seeking their first legitimate center in his prime since Kendrick Perkins left, showed interest.

Lee played two seasons for the Rockets before being traded to the Celtics for JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore and Sean Williams in July 2012.

"It’s very easy; I became a pro at (blocking out rumors)," Lee told reporters before the Celtics game with the Detroit Pistons. "You get used to it after a while. You go do your job. It’s part of being a professional. You get paid to play basketball, so I just have to make sure I show up and have that same mentality, whether I’m here or somewhere else.
If it happens, this would be a new experience for me, man. See how that goes."

Asik, 27, is in his fourth NBA season, having played his first two seasons with the Chicago Bulls before signing a three-year deal with the Houston Rockets. Asik experienced a breakout season in 2012-13 averaging 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds, starting all 82 games. But when the Rockets had a chance to sign Howard in the offseason, Asik's role became blurry.

He has played in just 17 games this season, averaging 4.4 points and 6.8 rebounds.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Pistons

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff December 18, 2013 07:04 PM

Trade rumors are swirling at TD Garden tonight regarding a deal that would send Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee and a first-round pick to Houston for Omer Asik. Bass and Lee are active tonight and are expected to play. Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he does not involve himself in trade rumors while Lee said he is concentrating on the Pistons but understands the business. The Celtics traveled to Detroit on Nov. 3 and lost 87-77. Kelly Olynyk was Boston's leading scorer with 15 points.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (12-14)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Rajon Rondo

DETROIT PISTONS (12-14)
PG Brandon Jennings
SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF Josh Smith
PF Greg Monroe
C Andre Drummond

Inactives: Peyton Siva, Rodney Stuckey

Officials: Tony Brothers, Scott Wall, Haywoode Workman

TV, radio: 7:30, Comcast SportsNet, (WBZ 98.5 FM).

Pregame notes:

• Rodney Stuckey, who played just 16 minutes in Monday's win over the Indiana Pacers, is out tonight with a sore right shoulder.

• All of the Celtics besides Rajon Rondo were healthy and available to play but obviously Bass and Lee would be playing with something else on their minds.

• Detroit coach Maurice Cheeks said the Celtics are a completely different and more confident team that in the first meeting. The Pistons have notched road wins at Miami and Detroit.

• The Celtics will practice Thursday and Friday in preparation for a rare Saturday afternoon contest with the Washington Wizards.

Is Omer Asik a good fit for the Celtics?

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff December 18, 2013 03:46 PM

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Update, 3:41 p.m. Yahoo! Sports reporter Adrian Wojnarowski gave us the latest update Wednesday afternoon:

Followed by:

The Houston Rockets have given themselves a deadline of Dec. 19 to trade center Omer Asik to another team. Asik has been unhappy in Houston since Dwight Howard's arrival in July, and sources tell Grantland's Zach Lowe and others that the Rockets expect to stick to their self-imposed ultimatum to ship the big man out of town.

In the last day or two, the Celtics have been one of the teams rumored to be interested in Asik. A source told the Globe's Gary Washburn Tuesday that the Celtics were indeed interested. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Celtics are the "strongest rivals to the Philadelphia 76ers in terms of likely destinations for Asik," with any deal around the 7-foot center likely involving three teams.

More from Stein:

"One possible scenario that has emerged, sources say, is a three-way trade in which Boston lands Asik, Cleveland absorbs the contract of Celtics forward Jeff Green and Houston scores no fewer than one of the future first-round picks it covets for surrendering Asik. Other players would have to be involved in such a trade to make the salary-cap math work, but it's the sort of trade that would fall in line with Cleveland's well-known focus on upgrading its options at small forward."

ESPN reported Sunday that Brandon Bass could be involved instead of Green. Either way, it would be taking away a significant piece of Boston's current core. Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix later refuted the notion that the Celtics would be willing to part with Green:

Houston's interest in Philadelphia as a trade partner lies with Sixers center Spencer Hawes, the report says.

You might be wondering what all the fuss is about Asik. It's a good question, one which Grantland's Lowe explains well here. I'll give you the main bullet points:

-- Asik is an advanced metrics darling, a player whose value protecting the rim far exceeds his career averages of 5.4 points and 7 rebounds. (These same high level stats would argue that Roy Hibbert is vastly underpaid, despite his large contract, because of his elite ability to keep opponents out of the paint).

-- Houston GM Daryl Morey, one of the league's biggest proponents of higher level stats, gave Asik a three-year, $25.1 million contract in 2012. That deal has a $15 million balloon payment for next season, which was originally designed to discourage the Bulls from matching that offer. The Celtics are reportedly not afraid of that payment despite being up against the salary cap.

-- Morey's demands are "delusional", according to one unnamed executive, and may include two first-round picks. The Celtics have picks, but do they want to use them for a 1 1/2 season rental like Asik?

-- Here's Lowe's kicker: "Morey is right about one thing: All the evidence suggests that any team that plays Asik for 30 minutes a game will have an elite defense over those 30 minutes, and one that protects the basket very well. The evidence also suggests such rim protection is an essential ingredient in building a championship contender."

Asik seems like a perfect piece to slide next to the offensive-minded, undersized Jared Sullinger in the Celtics' frontcourt. He's also adept at pick-and-roll offense, which would make him an interesting pairing with Rajon Rondo. And you know Brad Stevens likes defense.

For more Asik goodies, Kevin O'Connor at Celtics Blog went much more in depth than I did inside Asik's numbers.

Is Asik worth it to you? Would you give up Green or Bass or a first-round pick to get him? Vote in our survey below and leave a comment.


-- A league source also denied a rumor from Donny Marshall of all people that the Celtics and Kings were working on a blockbuster trade involving Rondo.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Timberwolves

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff December 16, 2013 06:17 PM

The Celtics get a chance at revenge against the Timberwolves tonight after dropping a 106-88 decision at Target Center on Nov. 16. The Celtics committed 21 turnovers, shot 39.5 percent from the field and just 27.8 percent from the 3-point line in one of their worst performances of the season. The Timberwolves topped Memphis 101-93 on Sunday evenings and have a chance to eclipse the .500 mark.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (11-14)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Rajon Rondo

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (12-12)
PG Ricky Rubio
SG Kevin Martin
SF Corey Brewer
PF Kevin Love
C Nikola Pekovic

Inactives: Chase Budinger, Ronny Turiaf

Officials: Bill Kennedy, Eddie F. Rush, Sean Wright

TV, radio: 7:30, Comcast SportsNet, (WBZ 98.5 FM).

Pregame notes:

• Kris Humphries is available after missing two games with a bruised left knee. Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he will have to determine minutes between Humphries and rookie Kelly Olynyk.

• Kevin Martin, who was held scoreless Sunday in Memphis, was back in the lineup despite leaving the win over the Grizzlies with knee soreness.

• Stevens said Jared Sullinger should pattern himself after Minnesota forward Kevin Love, who has transformed his body after entering the league with weight issues. Love is fourth in the league in scoring and first in rebounding.

• The Celtics will practice Tuesday before returning to action Wednesday against the Detroit Pistons.

Rajon Rondo cleared for full contact in practice, won't return this month

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff December 14, 2013 01:39 PM

WALTHAM – Rajon Rondo has been cleared for full contact in practice, meaning the Celtics' all-star point guard is one more step closer to returning to action.

However when he announced the news, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after practice Saturday the team still doesn't expect Rondo to be back on the court this month.

"He won’t play in games, is what I’ve been told, until after the first of the year," Stevens said. "And that still is, we’re talking in big generalities there. I don’t know when that means. It could mean a month from now, it could mean six weeks from now. There’s a lot of different variables that have to be met for him to be cleared for games."

Rondo hasn't played since January 2013, when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Dr. James Andrews operated on Rondo the following month, and Rondo has been sidelined since as he recovers from his first major knee injury.

Stevens said Rondo was cleared Friday after visiting Dr. Andrews.

Rondo has been participating more and more in practices in recent weeks, though he still hadn't done any full-contact drills.

"He’s done more and more, and today he did the most he’s done," Stevens said.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Knicks

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff December 13, 2013 06:47 PM

The Celtics got a little bit healthier today when rookie Kelly Olynyk was declared healed enough to play after missing 10 games with a sprained right ankle. He will take Kris Humphries minutes because the veteran big man will miss another game with a sore left knee. The Celtics beat up on the Knicks on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, a wire-to-wire win that caused shock waves around New York and boiled the hot seat on coach Mike Woodson.

Since then the Knicks lost to the Cavaliers and beaten the Bulls in an ugly game but they say they are motivated to atone for that 41-point defeat.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (10-14)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Rajon Rondo

NEW YORK KNICKS (6-15)
PG Pablo Prigioni
SG Iman Shumpert
SF Carmelo Anthony
PF Kenyon Martin
C Andrea Bargnani

Inactives: Tyson Chandler, Chris Smith


Officials: Mike Callahan, Eric Dalen, Josh Tiven

TV, radio: 7:30, Comcast SportsNet, (WBZ 98.5 FM).

Pregame notes:

• Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Olynyk will come off the bench and will get his share of minutes. Stevens also said Humphries is likely to play Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

• As for the Knicks, Raymond Felton is out with a strained left hamstring and Prigioni, who started a chunk of games last season, will return to the starting lineup. Iman Shumpert suffered a bruised left knee in the victory over Chicago but worked out well enough to be cleared to play tonight. He will start.

• Amar'e Stoudemire, still trying to return to form after missing most of the past two years with knee issues, is averaging 14.3 points in his past three games.

• Stevens said he has not been pleased with the production of the bench of late but will use more combinations and give the reserves more time on the court to get comfortable.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Clippers

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff December 11, 2013 06:46 PM

Doc Rivers is back in Boston after coaching the Celtics for the past nine years and his return is expected to be emotional after he led the club to the 2008 NBA title and Game 7 of the 2010 Finals. Rivers shook hands with fans, team employees and said he is glad to be back in Boston. The Celtics are trying to sneak a victory after losing Tuesday to the Brooklyn Nets.

The Clippers are in the midst of a seven-game road trip but won Monday at Philadelphia after losing at Atlanta, beating Memphis and losing at Cleveland.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (10-13)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Rajon Rondo

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (14-8)
PG Chris Paul
SG Willie Green
SF Jared Dudley
PF Blake Griffin
C DeAndre Jordan

Inactives: Maalik Wayns, J.J. Redick


Officials: John Goble, Rodney Mott, Curtis Blair

TV, radio: 7:30, Comcast SportsNet, (WBZ 98.5 FM).

Pregame notes:

• Rivers had two sessions with the media, in the morning at Los Angeles shootaround and about 90 minutes prior to the game. He told reporters he regretted how his departure was handled but felt helpless in the process. He also said with a healthy Kevin Garnett, the Celtics could have won three consecutive titles.

• Rookie Kelly Olynyk was considered a potential go for tonight but coach Brad Stevens said he won't play but could return Friday against the New York Knicks. Olynyk has been out since Nov. 22 with a sprained right ankle.

• The Clippers signed journeyman Stephen Jackson and he will play tonight, according to Rivers. Jackson, the well-traveled swingman, last played with the San Antonio Spurs before being waived.

• Rivers also added that he spoke and chided second-year center Jared Sullinger after his issues with the law in August. Sullinger said Rivers was critical to his development.

Doc Rivers: 'I did wish it could’ve ended better'

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff December 11, 2013 12:09 PM

There was Doc Rivers, back on the parquet floor at TD Garden. The Clippers coach stepped back onto it Wednesday morning with his team for a shootaround, with hours to go before he faced his old team, the Celtics, for the first time since he left this summer.

Looking back, Rivers said, he did have regrets about how he left the Celtics after nine years, walking away from a contract that still had three years remaining because he didn't want to go through the rebuilding process again.

"I did wish it could’ve ended better, I guess," Rivers said. "It wasn’t like Danny (Ainge) and I were arguing or anything. It was dragged out. I don’t know if there was any way you couldn’t drag it out.

"It wasn’t like I was involved in that. The part I was involved in was where I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to do … but then after that went through, the process with the two teams, I felt like it took two months. It may have. That’s how it felt. The strange part for me during that whole thing, I just had to sit there and listen and watch, and that part I hated, because it made everyone look bad, and I didn’t like that."

Rivers hugged and shook hands with Boston reporters who had covered him for years, and then he chatted for nearly 15 minutes on several subjects, such as what he expects Wednesday's game to be like, what he thinks of Brad Stevens and what he remembers most about his time with the Celtics.

Here are some of the highlights:

On what he expects for the game between his team and the Celtics:

"Yeah, it’s going to be hard tonight. I already told my coaches that it’s just going to be hard. You don’t spend nine years in one place and win a title and have the emotions you have toward the city and the fans and be normal when the game starts. That’s just not going to happen, at least I don’t think so. I’ve already prepared my coaches to be good coaches tonight, because it’s just going to be too tough for me."

On if he thinks fans will boo him:

"I’m sure they’re will be some, because they were booing when I coached. So that won’t change. Listen, I didn’t do anything wrong. I decided to leave at some point. It should be all good. I have nothing but good things to say. That’s for everybody else to expect, all that other negative stuff. I have nothing but positive stuff here."

On if he looks at how the Celtics are playing now and thinks about if he should have stayed:

"Yeah, you always do that. At some point, I think your voice has been heard too much. I had nine years and I had a great ride. I do believe in change. And I think it was important and important for me and probably important for the organization here too. But yeah, you always think that. They’re going to be good. It’s going to take them time, but they have a lot of good players on this team that I coached. I don’t know the new guys. I know (Phil) Pressey because I’ve known him since he was 2. I know him, but other than that, just the guys that I’ve coached, they’re good players."

On his impressions of Stevens, the Celtics rookie coach who replaced Rivers:

"I think Brad is doing a terrific job. They started off slow. They’ve been playing good basketball. I think what he’s done a great job of is letting people know that this is not a rebuild year. There may be rebuilding going on, but he has his team competing every night. I think they’re one of the teams that, they compete every night and they can beat everybody."

On Jordan Crawford, who is playing the point guard position very well for the Celtics now after having played shooting guard last season:

"Yeah, remember last year, I kept saying, I think he has a chance someday to be a point and I’d get the laughter from (the media). It’s good. I didn’t see this this quick, honestly. He’s playing terrific. He’s kind of bought in. Some guys, it takes them time to mature, not as players, but as people, and I think Jordan is on his way. And that’s good, because he’s not a bad kid."

On what he thinks about most from his time in Boston:

"They said it was going to be a two- or three-year run (with the Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen), but I never bought into that. Now we stretched it to, what, six years? Listen, the championship is what I’ll remember. It’s not what I think about the most, unfortunately. In a sad way, I think about 2010 far more than I think about 2008...I think about 2009 a lot. I tell people, we were the best team in the league in 2009 and then when Kevin (Garnett) went down obviously we were never the same ever. I should just look back on 2008 and be thankful, but I don’t think coaches ever work that way. I swear, I believe if Kevin was healthy, we could’ve won two, maybe three in a row. That would’ve been really sweet."

Welcome to Barclays Center for Celtics-Nets

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff December 10, 2013 06:50 PM

BROOKLYN -- It's night one of Reunion Week for the Celtics, who will get to face two of the Big Three tonight as Paul Pierce was declared healthy enough to play despite dealing with a fractured hand. He will come off the bench for the first time in six years. Nets coach Jason Kidd also said Deron Williams will return to the lineup, meaning the Celtics will face a nearly healthy Nets team.

Rajon Rondo said he is "close" to getting back on the court but "not ready yet." He is here in New York and will get a chance to exchange pleasantries with Pierce and Garnett. The Celtics are coming off a 41-point victory over the New York Knicks and lead the Atlantic Division by 1 1/2 games over Toronto.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (10-12)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Rajon Rondo

BROOKLYN NETS (6-14)
PG Deron Williams
SG Joe Johnson
SF Alan Anderson
PF Kevin Garnett
C Brook Lopez

Inactives: Andrei Kirilenko, Jason Terry


Officials: Bennett Salvatore, Courtney Kirkland, Kevin Scott

TV, radio: 7:30, Comcast SportsNet, (WZLX 100.7 FM).

Pregame notes:

• Pierce will make his first game appearance since Nov. 29 because of a fractured bone in his right hand and will make his first appearance off the bench since Feb. 9, 2007 while with the Celtics against the New Jersey Nets. Pierce has played in 1,118 regular season game and this is his fourth time coming off the bench.

• Deron Williams, who has missed 11 of the past 12 games with a sprained left ankle, will return and start for the Nets. Williams has only reached double figures in assists once this season and is shooting a career-low 40 percent and averaging 9.3 points.

• Rookie Kelly Olynyk is back to practice after missing the past three weeks with a sprained right ankle but was scratched from a possible return tonight. Olynyk could return Wednesday against the Clippers or Friday against the Knicks.

• The Celtics return home early Wednesday morning and then face Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night to begin a five-game homestand.

Paul Pierce will play vs. Celtics

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff December 10, 2013 06:01 PM

BROOKLYN -- Paul Pierce, who has been out since Nov. 29 with a fractured bone in his right hand, will play tonight against the Celtics, his first regular-season meeting against his former team.

Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd will bring Pierce off the bench for just the fourth time in his career and first time since Feb. 9, 2007 while with the Celtics. Tonight will be Pierce's 1,118th regular season game. Pierce told reporters Monday he was willing to come off the bench if that mean victories for the Nets.

"I’’m not a selfish player," he said. "If it’s something that’s best for the team and help us win ballgames, if I gotta come off the bench, if I gotta not play, if I gotta be a cheerleader on the sideline, if it’s going to help us win. I’m willing to do that."

Rondo talks Celtics, rehab, Doc's return to Boston and more

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff December 10, 2013 12:13 PM

NEW YORK – Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo said he remains "anxious" to return to the court for the first time this season after having knee surgery nearly 11 months ago, but he added that no timeline for his return exists as of Tuesday.

The next step in his rehabilitation process, as the Globe reported last week, is for him to meet with Dr. James Andrews later this month.

“I’ve been anxious ever since I hurt myself,” Rondo said after the Celtics' morning shootaround at Baruch College before the team faces the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night. “It’s a long process. Some days are better than others, but I’m patient and I’m not going to rush.”

He hasn't done much to test his right knee lately beyond running and some agility drills.

"I’m confident, but like I said, I haven’t practiced or anything so it’s hard to say," Rondo said. "One-on-one is different from actually going through picks and hitting the floor, playing 5-on-5, getting back in transition, making the quick moves without thinking about it. I haven’t done any of that."

Celtics team doctor Brian McKeon will also make the trip with Rondo to Florida to see Dr. Andrews.

There, Andrews and McKeon will likely determine the next step in the rehabilitation process for Rondo, which could mean that he'll be cleared to participate in full-contact practice.

Though he hasn't played for the Celtics this season, Rondo said has been impressed with the growth of his teammates from when the season started until now. Boston has won 6 of 8 and sits atop the Atlantic Division with a 10-12 record.

"I think it’s pretty much night and day," Rondo said. "I think now we’re in a good groove, guys are playing for one another, making the extra pass, defensively we’re helping a lot more. I think that’s the key to our success right now."

He added, in part: "The way the team is playing now, it’s hard to scout our team because it’s not just one guy doing all the scoring. It’s a collective effort, a group of guys and 5-6 guys in double figures each night. It’s hard to stop a team. Not to compare us, but like the Pacers are a hard team to scout. The way we’re playing right now, we’re in good rhythm."

It has been impressive how some of the younger Celtics -- such as Jordan Crawford or Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk -- have come along since the season started.

"I don’t look at them as young players," Rondo said. "Just guys that are making the sacrifice for one another and playing for one another. I know these guys could play. I’m not excited (about people stepping up). But I’m excited to play with them.”

Will Rondo have any emotions when Doc Rivers returns to TD Garden Wednesday, when the Celtics will face the Clippers?

"None. I’m not an emotional guy. So I won’t tear up or anything," Rondo said.

Mailbag: Praising your first-place Celtics

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff December 10, 2013 07:16 AM

stevensbaglead.jpg

"Dominant" isn't a label we thought we'd be applying to these Celtics, but over the last two games, the team has been historically so.

Boston took those fast starts and tied them neatly into wins over the Nuggets Friday and Knicks Sunday. The 114-73 thrashing of the Knicks was New York's third-worse home loss in team history. The dismal Nets are up next Tuesday night in Brooklyn.

“What Boston came in here and did was an embarrassment,” said Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony. “To lose like that on our home court, I think everyone should be [ticked] off right now.”

The Atlantic Division may be dreadful, but the first-place Celtics aren't just winning, they're winning impressively. At 10-12 the Celtics are on pace to win 37 games, surpassing even generous expectations before the season started. If it isn't clear by now, this Brad Stevens guy can coach. The Celtics are 8th in the league in defensive rating and total rebounding. Jordan Crawford is 13th in the NBA in touches for a team that is doing just fine, thank you, without starting point guard Rajon Rondo.

For the first time all season, I'm willing to admit these wins might not be flashes in the pan. Crawford leads off this week's Celtics mailbag.

-- Two of you on Twitter helped piece together the first question on Eastern Conference Player of the Week Jordan Crawford.

Those comments led me to look up the touches stat, where I was surprised to see Crawford trailing only players like John Wall, Chris Paul, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving in touches per game. The Celtics use Crawford a lot, and they use him in all sorts of ways, from handling the ball to catching and jacking the 12 3-pointers he took vs. the Knicks. Despite all that use, Crawford has an assist-to-turnover ratio of around 5:2.

"I think the best part about it is he's picking his spots extremely well, and he's defending extremely well," said Stevens. "This is not about what guys could do yesterday or what they've done in the past; it's about what you can do to get better and improve yourself."

Crawford is Stevens' perfect muse, the erratic, shoot-first player he can mold into a plucky winner. He still takes the random 30-footer with 10 seconds left on the shot clock and no rebounders under the basket, but he's doing it less. Just the threat of Crawford pulling up and draining a shot seems to have defenses on their toes.

The Celtics aren't going to sit Rondo for Crawford (sorry "they're better without Rondo!" crowd), but Crawford is making a case that he deserves to keep his minutes when Rondo returns. The problem is that Avery Bradley is the perfect compliment to Rondo, and you need his defense. Courtney Lee has also played well. If Crawford needs touches to do well, and Rondo comes back and dominates the ball, I still see Crawford as the odd man out, at least in terms of playing major minutes.

It's a good problem for the Celtics to have. If Crawford can't convince Stevens to let him play, perhaps he can convince internet's No. 1 Celtics fan to get on his side:

As a Celtic for the past 50 plus years, I am pleased to see the direction they have taken this year with their sincere effort of rebuilding with youth. I believe we are going in the right direction. However, can you see the Celtics improving after this year with the the addition of free agents and if so who might they go after ? Also, if they should finish with a win total that gives them a lower pick in next year's draft who are some of the lower first round players that might fit into their system?
Sonny, Ft. Meyers, Fla.

wallacetrap.jpgTwo good questions here. Kris Humphries and Keith Bogans come off the books after this season, but the Celtics still face a tight salary cap situation going forward in order to meet the 2014-15 salary-cap line of $58.679 million. At the moment the Celtics have around $48.2 million committed to nine players next year, and that's assuming they bring Crawford back. By the time they fill out the roster, it doesn't leave much room to sign any of the top free agents like Luol Deng, Pau Gasol, Zach Randolph, or Gordon Hayward.

One place where they may have luck is in a trade. The C's received a $10.3 million exception in the Nets deal which they can use in the short window between July 10 and July 12. (Baxter Holmes explains the trade exception here).

Do you think Danny could get Amer Osik from the Rockets? Would a trade of Humphries for Osik make sense? Seems like there's an opportunity here for the Celtics to get a legitimate NBA center and to move salaries as well. It also looks like an Osik for Humphries deal would work well for the Rockets. What do you think?
Tom, Middlebury, Vt.

That's a good thought, Tom, provided the Rockets can't get more for Asik, who has more upside. Houston is going to trade him, though, so maybe the teams can make a deal work. The important thing to remember with any potential deal Danny Ainge makes is that the Celtics aren't going to sacrifice the future to win this year, no matter how well they're playing. This deal would meet that criteria, but it's also a tougher sell for Houston.

-- Here's a brief interlude for my favorite play from Sunday's win over the Knicks (courtesy of @MrTrpleDouble10).

Are there any success stories from the D-league? Do the Celtics have anybody down there that has potential?
Mark, Manchester

Chris Wright, a 6-foot-8-inch forward out of Dayton, leads the Red Claws with an average of 24 points and 7.5 rebounds in the team's first five games. Wright is shooting 56 percent from the floor. He went undrafted in 2011 and was waived on Oct. 26 as the Raptors trimmed their roster down to 15. The high-flying swingman can fill it up -- he almost made the Raptors the year before, too -- but Toronto cut him again while he continues to work on his perimeter game.

Frank Gaines, a 6-foot-3-inch guard out Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, has hit 52 percent of his 3-pointers in five games.

-- And here's a question I wish someone asked about Kelly Olynyk:

Is the Celtics' recent success tied in part to Kelly Olynyk's absence due to injury?
Gary, Boston

For now, yes. In eight games since the rookie went down with an ankle injury the Celtics are 6-2. It's anecdotal at this point, but Boston has given up 90 points per game in those eight games while giving up 103.6 points in the previous eight games with him in the lineup. That's not all on Olynyk, of course. It couldn't possibly be. Based on the eye test, though, Olynyk has struggled on defense early in his career as bigger players take advantage of him in the post and smaller players catch him out of position. He's also struggled to find his shot, shooting 38 percent from the floor with a true-shooting percentage (factoring in 3-pointers and free throws) which ranks second worst on the team.

Olynyk should be be a fine player going forward, but at the moment the steadying influence of Kris Humphries is helping the Celtics win games.

As always, you can ask your mailbag questions here or on Twitter.

Pierce said he no "hard feelings" against Celtics

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff December 9, 2013 02:39 PM

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J, -- Paul Pierce has not played since Nov. 29 because of a displaced fracture in his right hand, yet in less than two weeks he returned to Nets practice and said could be available Tuesday against the Celtics.

Pierce said it was mere coincidence that he would be ready to face his former team. The former face of the Celtics franchise has been busy trying to help turnaround what has been a miserable beginning for the Nets, who will enter Tuesday with a 5-14 record. Pierce said he was cleared to begin shooting a few days ago and said there's a "good chance" he'll face the Celtics for the first time in the regular season.

Pierce attempted to downplay his emotions when facing the Celtics, but he offered some interesting thoughts on his former club, which traded him, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets for four players and four first-round draft picks in June.

"I’ve already been past that part a long time ago,: he said. "I’m a person that’s always when it’s time to move on, you move on. You can ask any girlfriend I’ve ever had. That’s just the way it is. It’s no hard feelings. I’m here. This is where I’m at now. You’ve got to move on. You can’t mourn or put your head down, this is what it is.

"I think emotions are already behind me. We played them in the preseason. We had our press conference. Emotions are all behind. I probably won’t have any more emotions until I go back into the arena that I played in but I’ve moved on, they’ve moved on, Doc’s moved on, Ray’s moved on. It is what it is.”

When asked about the surprising Celtics, who are 10-12 after a 41-point shellacking of the New York Knicks on Sunday, Pierce said: "A whole new coaching staff, a lot of young guys, they’re in development stages, trying to bring up the guys that are there, (Rajon) Rondo, their leader now. You have to move towards the future at some point. I’ve been there for a long, long time and the Celtics are aiming towards the future.

"They’re really surprising a lot of people. Guys are stepping up. They’re played good team ball, they’re running, they’re playing together despite Rondo being out. Nobody expected them to play good right now, especially without their leader. They’re probably going to be a better team once Rondo comes back and try to make a playoff push and that’s something a lot of people didn’t expect."

The Nets were assembled to win a championship immediately but have been one of the league's most disappointing teams. Pierce said a title remains a possibility.

"I think we have the potential of a championship team, the talent of a championship team. It’s about putting it all together, getting healthy and then seeing what we got," he saud. "We’ve seen flashes of it at times but it’s tough when you don’t know who’s going to be in the lineup one night and who’s going to be out but injuries do happen to every team and it’s something we’ve got to deal with but I’d like to see us when we get fully healthy and see what our potential could possibly be."

Welcome to Madison Square Garden for Celtics-Knicks

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff December 8, 2013 10:53 AM

NEW YORK -- The first-place Celtics begin a two-game road trip in the Big Apple with a rare noontime start against the Knicks. New York has had its share of troubles but has responded with consecutive 30-point victories over the Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic. The Knicks are beginning to resemble the team that reached the second round of the playoffs last season with their 3-point shooting and ball movement.

The Celtics have won two straight games, including Friday's impressive win over the Denver Nuggets. The Celtics play two emotional games in the next couple of nights, Tuesday at Brooklyn and Wednesday at home against Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (9-12)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Rajon Rondo

NEW YORK KNICKS (5-13)
PG Raymond Felton
SG Iman Shumpert
SF Tim Hardaway Jr.
PF Carmelo Anthony
C Andrea Bargnani

Inactives: Tyson Chandler, Chris Smith


Officials: Ken Mauer, Sean Corbin, Derek Richardson

TV, radio: Noon, Comcast SportsNet, (WBZ FM, 98.5).

Pregame notes:

• Knicks coach Mike Woodson has decided to go extra small and replace Kenyon Martin in the starting lineup with Tim Hardaway Jr. That lineup creates tons of matchup issues for the Celtics. Jared Sullinger must defend Andrea Bargnani while Brandon Bass will be assigned to Carmelo Anthony.

• In the Knicks past two wins, Anthony is a combined 14-for-22 shooting and averaging just 19.5 points. He said after Friday's victory over Orlando that he wanted to try something new in distributing the ball (10 combined assists) because "Me scoring 30 wasn't working."

• Rookie Kelly Olynyk was on the court working out lightly before the game and continues to make progress from his sprained right ankle but there is no timetable on his return. Olynyk was injured on Nov. 22 against the Indiana Pacers.

• The Celtics will practice Monday in New York in preparation for their Tuesday showdown with the Brooklyn Nets. Paul Pierce and Jason Terry will not play against the Celtics.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Nuggets

Posted by Staff December 6, 2013 05:35 PM

After beating Milwaukee Tuesday with a 108-100 victory, the Celtics are looking to string together a pair of victories before heading to New York for a two-game road trip against the Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets. Denver comes to TD Garden two days after a 98-88 loss, which snapped its seven-game win streak.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (8-12)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Rajon Rondo, Kelly Olynyk

DENVER NUGGETS (11-7)
PG Ty Lawson
SG Randy Foye
SF Kenneth Faried
PF Wilson Chandler
C J.J. Hickson

Inactives: none


Officials: Monty McCutchen, Pat Fraher, Scott Twardoski

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., ESPN, Comcast SportsNet, (WBZ FM, 98.5).

Pregame notes:

• Before the game, Brad Stevens said Jordan Crawford's wrist is a little bit sore, but otherwise he is good. The Celtics' guard had his left wrist taped at Thursday's practice. "I've said this many a times, if there was a pickup game somewhere and he wasn't in the NBA, he'd be playing in a pickup game," Stevens said. "It doesn't surprise me he has it taped up and ready to play."

• Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk will miss his seventh-straight game because of a sprained ankle, but Stevens said "he is close" to returning. Stevens said he will go light on practice Friday and will be out Sunday against New York, but will be day-to-day starting next week.

• Stevens had plenty of praise for Denver forward Kenneth Faried, who has posted seven double-doubles in the last 13 games. Faried is averaging 10.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game this season, and has pulled in 10-plus boards in 9 of the last 13 games.

• The last time the Nuggets and Celtics squared off, Denver took a 97-90 win at the Pepsi Center.

Danny Ainge: Rajon Rondo won't return in 'next few weeks'

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff December 5, 2013 09:50 AM

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said on 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich show Thursday morning that point guard Rajon Rondo was still a long way from returning to the court.

"I don't think he's close," Ainge said. "I don't think it's gonna happen in the next few weeks. We're not on pins and needles about it. We're being very cautious with Rondo. He's still got a little bit of a limp. He needs to get his strength back."

Ainge told the Globe's Baxter Holmes Wednesday that Rondo will meet with Dr. James Andrews, who performed Rondo's knee surgery, within 10 to 14 days. The Celtics guard has not been cleared for 5-on-5 basketball.

"He's just not himself yet, but he's getting there and he's pushing himself to get there," Ainge said. "Listen, we're going to be very cautious with him and make sure he's right before he comes back. There's just a little bit of a limp still, and he's got to get that strength in his knee back to 100 percent before we'll let him back out on the court."

Ainge's comments the last two days suggest no definitive timetable for Rondo's return to the court. The Celtics boss also said he was more concerned with development of the team's younger players than with wins and losses or the early season standings, mentioning Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley, and Jordan Crawford as players he was particularly interested in monitoring.

Rajon Rondo scheduled to meet Dr. James Andrews within 10-14 days

Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff December 4, 2013 01:49 PM

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo is scheduled to head to Florida within the next 10 to 14 days to meet with Dr. James Andrews, who performed surgery on Rondo's right knee.

"It has nothing to do with Rondo’s health and it’s not like a final straw or anything," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Wednesday. "It’s just a checkup that they’ve scheduled for the beginning of December. It’s been on the calendar for a while."

Celtics team doctor Brian McKeon will also make the trip with Rondo, and together with Andrews, those two will likely determine the next step in the rehabilitation process for Rondo, Ainge said.

But steps remain before Rondo will see the court again for the Celtics -- and it's not as though either Rondo or the Celtics, who have both been patient throughout the whole rehabilitation process, are about to begin rushing the All-Star point guard back to the court.

First, Rondo, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in January and had it repaired by Andrews a month later, must be cleared to participate in full-contact practice, which Ainge said still hasn't happened yet.

"He’s playing one-on-one and two-on-two, that type of thing, but he hasn’t been cleared to do much more than that," Ainge said.

It's unclear what the timeline will be after Rondo is cleared to participate in full-contact practice, but it figures that, again, both Rondo and the Celtics will be patient, meaning that Celtics fans and others should also do the same.

Watch: Avery Bradley goes Larry Bird on the Bucks

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff December 4, 2013 07:47 AM

Avery Bradley echoed Larry Bird -- and may have even did him one better -- with a circus shot against the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday night. Bradley caught the ball on the bounce and, in one motion, pushed it back up over the right corner of the backboard while falling out of bounds.

For comparison's sake, here's the Bird shot:

It might be blasphemy, but I'm partial to the AB one.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Bucks

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff December 3, 2013 06:57 PM

The Celtics are looking to snap a two-game losing streak against the Bucks, who have registered two of their three wins over Boston. On Saturday, the Bucks dominated the final three quarters en route to a 92-85 win. Brandon Knight, who had hit three 3-pointers the entire season, hit three Saturday and O.J. Mayo was also key with 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting.

Courtney Lee did not play in Saturday's game with a sore left knee but is a game-time decision tonight.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (7-12)

PG Avery Bradley
SG Jordan Crawford
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Jared Sullinger

Inactives: Rajon Rondo

MILWAUKEE BUCKS (3-13)
PG Brandon Knight
SG O.J. Mayo
SF Khris Middleton
PF Ekpe Udoh
C John Henson

Inactives: Carlos Delfino, Larry Sanders


Officials: David Jones, Gary Zielinski, JT Orr

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, (WBZ FM, 98.5).

Pregame notes:

• Lee participated in practice Monday and said the knee feels a lot better after missing the past two games. MarShon Brooks and Keith Bogans saw action Saturday in Lee's absence.

• The Bucks will be without Caron Butler (sore knee) and Ersan Ilyasova (hamstring) again tonight. Henson and Udoh were pressed into starting duty.

• Rajon Rondo worked out lightly before the game and is apparently getting close. He has been participating in practice but has not been cleared for five-on-five contact.

• The Celtics have Wednesday and Thursday's off before a Friday matchup with the Denver Nuggets. The Celtics then hit New York for games at the Knicks on Sunday and Nets on Tuesday. Former Celtics assistant coach Lawrence Frank was relieved of his duties as bench assistant coach for Brooklyn. He will work away from the team.

News, analysis and commentary from the following Boston Globe and Boston.com writers:

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