We preview the 2016-2017 Celtics with Danny Ainge on opening night.

[0:00:06] ... the choir around the corner. From the TD garden where tonight the Boston Celtics. Kick off their 201617. Season against the Brooklyn nets. I put this team together Danny Ainge joins us now on the AT&T ...
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[0:02:53] ... development in the starting tonight. We're talking with Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics Celtics open the season tonight at home against the Brooklyn nets. We try to cut earlier in the show from your Coach ...
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R.J. Hunter

R.J. Hunter

The Celtics may not need to wait too long before they see R.J. Hunter as an opponent. According to The Vertical, Hunter is nearing a deal with the Chicago Bulls, the only team with an open roster spot — who will also face off against the Celtics on Thursday in Chicago.

Earlier in the day, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reported that Hunter was “very close” to a deal.

Hunter was waived by the Celtics on Monday after being passed on for the final spot on the roster in favor of James Young. 

Described as a pure shooter when the Celtics took him in the first round, 28th overall out of Georgia State in the 2015 draft, the 23-year-old struggled to find his form with the C’s, shooting 36.7 percent from the field and 30.2 percent from 3-point range.

Blog Author: 
Logan Mullen

Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens

With the start of the Celtics season set to begin Wednesday night against the Nets, it will also be the first regular season indication of what the 2016-17 Celtics — and all the hype, expectations and concerns surrounding them — have to offer.

Speaking prior to the game Celtics head coach Brad Stevens isn’t trying to get ahead of himself.

“I just hope we play well tonight. That’s the bottom line, there’s 82 of these,” Stevens said. “The last thing anybody is thinking in there is what happens down the road. We have to play well, and you look at this stuff, and I’ve said this before, we’re as close to second as tenth. So I understand [the pick to be contenders in the East], but I understand we better play well.”

The roster won’t necessarily have the look Wednesday that it will as soon as mid-November due to injuries to Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk, but that notwithstanding, there will still be indications left and right of what the Celtics look like both offensively and defensively.

And with some new faces via both the draft and free agency, there’s new roles to be established and claimed in the early going.

“I’m anxious to see what we look like on both ends of the floor. We’re going to have some guys that haven’t played as much here that are going to have to contribute for us to have success, so I think that’s another thing I’m interested to see how that goes,” Stevens said.

“We’re going to have to play well, and that’s going to be a constant thing. The team that plays the best and the team that plays the most together and the hardest and everything else usually wins and we’ve got to really challenge ourselves to be the best version of ourselves in as many of the 48 minutes as possible.”

There will be a void off the bench, however, as Kelly Olynyk is still some time away from returning to game action, something the 7-footer didn’t see any of during the preseason with a right shoulder injury. He saw the surgeon that performed the surgery on Tuesday, and though him timetable has become more clear — which was as much detail as Stevens divulged — he is still a few weeks 

“He’s still probably a couple of weeks away, but he’s doing 5-on-5 and it’s just a matter of ramping it up so that the next day the fatigue is less and less. He will not participate in every 5-on-5 segment, but each day will be ramped up and increased a little bit more. Again, it’s more about the fatigue in his shoulder after the fact,” Stevens said.

Even still, Stevens has an idea of how many players he’s trying to utilize in his rotation, even though Olynyk and Smart won’t be available anytime soon.

“Not tonight, just simply because the fact that two of them that are probably in it, or at least have been mainstays in it, are out,” Stevens said when if he knew who the guys are that will be consistently in the rotation. “I think ideally you’d like to play in the 9-to-10 range. I’ve got an idea right now, but it’s based on a month of work and the exhibition games and everything else. But this is why these are such important games for the guys that get to play when others are out, because this establishes a trust of consistency, right, so that you can see them doing their job on every possession.”

Blog Author: 
Logan Mullen

Terry Rozier

Terry Rozier

WALTHAM – How will the Celtics cope without Marcus Smart for the first two weeks of the season? 

Ask Brad Stevens that question and he’ll give the same answer that he has for everything involving his defense-based system. 

“I think we were third or fourth last year, so it was pretty good. The bottom line is we have to be more versatile defensively,” Stevens said Tuesday when Smart and the team announced that his left ankle would sideline him for at least two weeks.

“You have to be able to do more things. We have to be able to tweak on the fly, we have to be able to adjust if something is killing us and be able to play either big or small. I think it will be interesting to see what our best lineups are that separate themselves. But our idea is that we should have some versatility. But, again, I think defense is one of those things that you gotta go out there and do it. It’s not about talking about it. It’s not about the anticipation of how good we can be. That’s an everyday commitment and thus far we’ve done it at a pretty good level, but we’ll see.”

Smart’s injury also means significantly more opportunity for Terry Rozier to continue what he showed in Summer League and camp and preseason. 

“He comes off the bench and he’s not playing, so it’s a bigger opportunity for me,” Rozier said of Smart. “It’s a step up, something where I have to be ready when my number is called. Be ready to take care of business. I want to come in and play my part, whether it’s scoring some nights, or just getting starts. The main thing is I want to play hard and do that every night.”

In Rozier’s mind, the best preparation for an increased role has been facing Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley every day in practice. 

“I think IT said it best – when you play against those two every day in practice, when you get out there in a real game it’s looser,” Rozier said. “You’re not having guys all over you like it is in practice. That’s a big help, something you have to take advantage of when you get out on the court, because in practice you’re not getting that breathing room.

“Thinking like a pro, just becoming a pro. This off-season I wanted to get better, whether it’s watching film or more hours of shooting. Just becoming a pro, having a routine, whether it’s eating, things like that. Just being smarter and becoming a pro.”

Last year, the Celtics finished fourth overall in team defense in the NBA and second in steals. The Celtics were very active on the perimeter and that figures to continue this season. 

“I think, obviously, we knew with Evan [Turner] being where he was and you were going to be able to have a guy that started some games for us and everything else. So we’re going to have some young guys that are going to be put out there and have to perform under real lights. So it’ll be a great experience for them, a great opportunity for them. And we’re going to need other guys to step up. That’s why you have a team, why everybody prepares. I’m interested and excited to see how they play.”

Helping the versatility on defense is Al Horford, who is a 6-foot-10 presence who can defend the wing. 

“Should improve our versatility defensively, yeah,” Stevens said. “Again, I think he also improves our ability to play big or small. You can play him at the 4 and play big, or play him at the 5 and his mobility defensively and his ability to stretch the floor allows us to do both.”

The more you can do, the more valuable you are in the Stevens’ system. 

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Horford-Al-Celtics 10-4-16

With Al Horford on board, the Celtics are a popular pick to reach the Eastern Conference finals this season. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

As the Celtics begin their journey to Banner 18 with Wednesday night’s opener against the lowly Nets, optimism runs high in Boston. And it should, because this team should have an entertaining and successful regular season.

But any Celtics fan rooted in reality knows this to be true as well: This team is not built to win a title.

No doubt you’ve already read plenty of breakdowns about how a team needs a true star to win an NBA championship, and even the C’s front office has acknowledged there is a piece missing from this club.

On the positive side, the offseason acquisition of free agent center Al Horford was a good one, and it presents an apt comparison for this Celtics team in Horford’s former employers.

Two years ago, a smart young coach took a team with rising stars but no superstar and led that squad to an impressive 60-22 record — best in the Eastern Conference (by a whopping seven games over the Cavaliers) and second best in the entire NBA. In the playoffs, Mike Budenholzer’s Hawks took out the underwhelming Nets and Wizards in six-game series. Then, faced with LeBron James’ Cavs in the conference finals, Atlanta became the fourth No. 1 seed in NBA history to be swept in a playoff series.

The postseason awards were telling. Budenholzer was named Coach of the Year, but no Hawks were on the All-NBA first, second or third teams. Nor was there a Hawk found on the All-Defensive first or second team, or the All-Rookie first or second team.

In a nod to the team’s balance, the entire starting lineup — Horford, DeMarre Carroll, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague — was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for January after Atlanta went 17-0 to start the year. But that was it for major awards.

Like those Hawks, these Celtics have solid balance and depth, crucial factors to help overcome injuries that are sure to pop up during the season. And with the Eastern Conference perhaps even less challenging than the last couple of years, a run at 60 wins is not out of the question. But come playoff time, temper those expectations.

Fortunately for the Celtics, even if this year turns out similarly, they are in a much better position to rectify the situation, as they are likely to draft in the top three the next two years, courtesy of the Nets. Or, if another general manager has the guts to deal with Danny Ainge this season, the Celtics could acquire a proven star and make a run at a championship next spring.

For now, let’s focus on a regular season that is sure to please the TD Garden crowds.




1. Raptors, 54-28 — Toronto will battle the Celtics for second place in the Eastern Conference (with both teams ready to pounce if the Cavaliers get stung by the injury bug), but the Raptors lost a key piece in defensive stopper/rebounder Bismack Biyombo, and the team’s only offseason acquisition, former Celtics big man Jared Sullinger, already is injured.

2. Celtics, 52-30 — Evan Turner has his detractors, but he did come up big in the clutch a number of times for this team last season. This is the biggest concern for this team: Can the C’s close out tight games, especially with their questionable outside shooting and the lack of a proven finisher outside of All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas?

3. Knicks, 42-40 — Jeff Hornacek takes over a team that added former Bulls stars Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah to a roster led by Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. As Tuesday’s season-opening blowout loss to the Cavaliers showed, this team isn’t likely to be a threat, although if the stars are healthy they could make a little noise.

4. 76ers, 19-63 — Ben Simmons is hurt, but Joel Embiid is not. And Dario Saric finally has arrived from Croatia, two years after being picked 12th overall. This team has to finally start improving. It can’t get any worse.

5. Nets, 15-67 — New coach Kenny Atkinson is going to have a rough first year, but the Nets did the best they could this offseason, bringing in the likes of Jeremy Lin and Randy Foye and taking a shot with former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett in an attempt to be competitive. They’ll need to trade Brook Lopez at some point so they can replace the draft picks they lost to the Celtics.


1. Cavaliers, 57-25 — Barring injuries, the defending NBA champions will be back in the Finals. However, LeBron James turns 32 in December, and with seven NBA Finals appearances the past seven years, he’s got a lot of basketball miles in him. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, who have a history of health issues, will need to take some of the load off LeBron. Look for coach Tyronn Lue to follow Gregg Popovich’s lead and schedule some days off for his stars.

2. Pacers, 47-35 — Larry Bird had a busy offseason, replacing coach Frank Vogel with Nate McMillan, trading guard George Hill and first-round pick Carlos LeVert, acquiring Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young, and signing free agents Al Jefferson, Aaron Brooks and Kevin Seraphin. If this team jells, a deep playoff run is a possibility.

3. Pistons, 46-36 –– Newly acquired guard Ish Smith will have to hold down the fort while Reggie Jackson misses the first 6-8 weeks with knee tendinitis. Stan Van Gundy will have this team competitive, but the Pistons don’t have enough to make a long run in the postseason.

4. Bulls, 41-41 — Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo have teamed up with Jimmy Butler and are saying all the right things about it being Butler’s team. We’ll see how that plays out.

5. Bucks, 32-50 — This team was supposed to be climbing the Eastern Conference ladder, but things have been going the wrong way in Milwaukee. Khris Middleton’s torn hamstring doesn’t help. Giannis Antetokounmpo will again be fun to watch, though.


1. Hawks, 47-35 — Al Horford and Jeff Teague are out, Dwight Howard and Tim Hardaway Jr. are in. As noted above, this is a good team that just doesn’t have what it takes in the postseason, and Atlanta got no better in the offseason.

2. Hornets, 44-38 — The Hornets won 48 games last season but lost Al Jefferson, Jeremy Lin and Courtney Lee. They’re hoping for a resurgence from free agent center Roy Hibbert, but that seems unlikely. Charlotte won’t be an easy out, but there’s not enough here to scare anyone.

3. Wizards, 40-42 — John Wall and Bradley Beal are playing nice with each other (so they say), but first-year coach Scott Brooks doesn’t have enough weapons and would do well just to make the playoffs.

4. Heat, 29-53 — When Dwyane Wade left for Chicago the rebuilding officially began in Miami. There’s enough talent to win some games in a Southeast Division that is on the decline, but not enough to earn a playoff berth.

5. Magic, 25-57 — Victor Oladipo was sent to Oklahoma City as Orlando put its faith in Evan Fournier. New coach Frank Vogel has a couple of premier rim-protectors in Serge Ibaka and Bismarck Biyombo, but this team lacks a leader, and free agent Jeff Green is unlikely to be that guy.



1. Spurs, 60-22 — Tim Duncan retired, and 36-year-old Pau Gasol was brought in as a replacement. That should keep San Antonio atop the Southwest, assuming LaMarcus Aldridge (18 ppg, 8.5 rpg) is speaking the truth when he says he’s OK sharing the ball with Kawhi Leonard (21.1 ppg) and company.

2. Grizzlies, 51-31 — New coach David Fizdale takes over a team that was hit big by injuries last season. Marc Gasol (foot) is back, and Chandler Parsons (13.7 ppg) has joined Zach Randolph (15.3 ppg, 7.8 rig) and Mike Conley (15.3 ppg) to get this team back among the conference’s elite.

3. Mavericks, 43-39 — Harrison Barnes (11.7 ppg) comes over from Golden State, but it remains to be seen if he’ll come close to justifying the $94 million Mark Cuban threw at him. Dirk Nowitzki (18.3 ppg) is 38, and he does not have enough help on this team to play deep in the postseason.

4. Rockets, 40-42 — James Harden (29.0 ppg) is saying the right things after being criticized for his lack of defense and leadership last season. New coach Mike D’Antoni will have this team’s offense in high gear, but he’ll be hard-pressed to stop Houston’s decline.

5. Pelicans, 26-56 — Anthony Davis (24.3 ppg) remains the standout — when he’s healthy — on an underwhelming team. Celtics fans will keep an eye on rookie Buddy Hield, after some draft prognosticators expected the former Oklahoma star to end up in Boston.


1. Thunder, 53-29 — Kevin Durant’s departure puts the weight squarely on the shoulders of Russell Westbrook (23.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 10.4 apg), but the front office helped him out with the acquisition of Victor Oladipo (16.0 ppg). Despite the loss of Serge Ibaka, the Thunder have some talent down low in Steven Adams, Enes Kanter and rookie Domantas Sabonis.

2. Trail Blazers, 46-36 — This is a fun team to watch, with Damian Lillard (25.1 ppg, 6.8 apg) and C.J. McCollum (20.8 ppg)  leading the way, but Portland is no match for the conference’s elite. Evan Turner was a good — albeit expensive — acquisition.

3. Timberwolves, 44-38 — Kris Dunn is the early favorite for Rookie of the Year, which would give Minnesota three such awards in three years. It’s time for some of that talent to start paying dividends. Karl-Anthony Towns (18.3 ppg, 10.5 rpg) and Andrew Wiggins (20.7 ppg) are ready to lead this team to the playoffs.

4. Jazz, 41-41 — Newcomers George Hill, Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw should have the Jazz contending for a playoff berth, but Gordon Hayward (broken finger) will miss the season’s first few weeks and this team’s young talent is not yet ready for prime time.

5. Nuggets, 36-46 — Danilo Gallinari averaged a career-high 19.5 points before missing the final couple of months of the season with an ankle injury. The Nuggets cannot afford any such injuries this season if they are to contend for a playoff berth.


1. Warriors, 64-18 — OK, we know from Tuesday’s season-opening loss to the Spurs that the Warriors are not unbeatable. Their drop-off in depth from last season could be an issue, especially if Steph Curry or Kevin Durant get hurt. But clearly this is the team to beat, and don’t be surprised if the Warriors take the regular season less seriously to make sure they have enough in the tank for the playoffs.

2. Clippers, 59-23 — Doc Rivers’ crew should move past OKC but would need an injury in the Bay Area to ascend to the Western Conference title. Blake Griffin (21.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg) has seen his shooting percentage decline four years in a row, and he needs to refocus to make up for last year’s off-court issues.

3. Kings, 32-50 — New coach Dave Joerger inherits a dysfunctional team led by DeMarcus Cousins (26.9 ppg, 11.5 rpg). Second-leading scorer Rudy Gay (17.2 ppg) reportedly wants out, and who can blame him?

4. Suns, 28-54 — All eyes are on No. 4 overall pick Dragan Bender. It will help if Eric Bledsoe (20.4 ppg) can stay healthy.

5. Lakers, 17-65 — Kobe Bryant finally is gone, and the Lakers can fully focus on rebuilding the roster. Second overall pick Brandon Ingram joins D’Angelo Russell (13.2 ppg) and Julius Randle (11.3 ppg, 10.2 rpg) to provide hope for the future.



Cavaliers over Knicks
Raptors over Hornets
Celtics over Pistons
Pacers over Hawks

Cavaliers over Pacers
Celtics over Raptors

Cavaliers over Celtics


Warriors over Mavericks
Spurs over Timberwolves
Clippers over Trail Blazers
Thunder over Grizzlies

Warriors over Thunder
Spurs over Clippers

Warriors over Spurs

Warriors over Cavaliers

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar


WALTHAM — The battle of Craig Sager has been one that has touched nearly everyone in the NBA.

The most colorful broadcaster in sports is again battling acute myeloid leukemia.

After practice and before speaking with reporters, coaches and players put on multi-colored spotted shirts, symbolic of the bright and colorful suits only Sager could wear. The team then took a picture and shouted the words “Sager Strong!” to a camera for the purpose of sending get-well wishes to the man who has become an institution on NBA sidelines over his long and successful career.

The shirts are for sale for $29.99 at the SagerStrong Foundation website, with proceeds going to benefit the foundation’s mission of cancer research and education. 

For Sager, who announced in March that his cancer had come out of remission, the prognosis is not great, and that was evident again on the face of Isaiah Thomas Tuesday after Celtics practice.

“These [shirts] are Craig Sager. A guy that means a lot to this game of basketball,” Thomas said with a heavy heart. “A guy who means a lot to the NBA, the NBA family. And we just wish him well, and we’re praying for him and his family daily. The shirts are nice. They look like something he would wear. I wouldn’t wear them but I know he would.”

Sager’s son, Craig Jr. helped save Sager’s life as he was a match for the bone marrow transplant needed to push Sager into remission in 2014. But in March, doctors had told him that he had 3–6 months to live without treatment. On July 29, Sager underwent bone marrow surgery.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

WALTHAM – Isaiah Thomas is well aware of the lofty expectations of most Celtics fans this season. 

The All-Star guard from a year ago has his own goals heading into the 2016-17 season opener Wednesday against the Nets. 

Oct 17, 2016; Boston, MA, USA;  Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) drives to the basket past Brooklyn Nets guard Isaiah Whitehead (15) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas looks to raise the Celtics to a new level this season. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM – Isaiah Thomas is well aware of the lofty expectations of most Celtics fans this season. 

The All-Star guard from a year ago has his own goals heading into the 2016-17 season opener Wednesday against the Nets. 

“To be another All-Star. All-NBA. Win a playoff series and go from there. That wasn’t in order, but those are definitely goals of mine. And first off, I definitely want to win a playoff series. So that’s the most important. But individual things, I have a lot of goals I want to achieve.” Thomas said after Tuesday’s final practice before the opener. 

The Celtics are coming off a 48-34 season in Brad Stevens’ third year with the team. What is the next step? What is the potential of this Celtics’ unit?

“If we can put it all together, we could be special,” Thomas said, before hedging. “I’m not going to say we’re going to go to the NBA Finals or do none of that, but like I said before teams know we can be really good. We just have to put it together and find our identity, which is on the defensive end. And if we do that everything else will take care of itself.” 

Thomas was asked if he’s going to be paying any attention to the season of his opponent Wednesday night, the Brooklyn Nets. If the Nets finish with the worst record in the league, the Celtics will have a very good chance of the top overall pick. 

“I worry about scoring the ball, getting my teammates involved and winning games,” Thomas said. “I don’t know nothing about those first-round picks. And I wasn’t a first-round pick so I don’t care about first-rounders.”

What Thomas has seen so far in practice and the preseason gives him plenty of reason to be optimistic. 

“We played pretty well. I think overall as a group we’re ahead of the curve. We showed glimpses of how good we can be, and then we also showed glimpses of we’re not that great at the same time. But that happens in preseason. So hopefully we got all the kinks out and we can be perfect [Wednesday].”

Thomas sounded anxious to get past the preseason and the practices and start playing games that count.

“They’ve been important,” he said of preseason games. “Paying attention to detail more. Just trying to lock in on the things we do well and get better at the things we don’t do as well, and worry about us. Now it finally means something to play. So, we’re ready. I’ve been ready. I’ve been ready for the preseason to be over and things to start counting.”

 Thomas is coming off a season in which he averaged a career-high 22.2 points in 79 starts. He shot 35.9 percent from beyond the arc. But his propensity as a streaky shooter from 3-point distance was a point of emphasis in the offseason.  

“Sure. That’s what I worked on this summer, just consistently knocking down the 3-point shot, trying to shoot within 38 to 40 percent this year and be more of a consistent shooter,” Thomas said. “I put the work in, so we’ll see if it all buckles down. And they still don’t want to leave me open. They definitely don’t. I’m going to knock those down. But I’m working at it, so I’m going to continue to work at it each and every day and become more consistent on that end.

“If you can knock down that 3-ball that opens up everything else for you. I can drive at a pretty high level as well. So if I can up my 3-point percentage it’s only going to make me more dangerous.”

With Al Horford and Gerald Green on the court, and Avery Bradley working on his shooting range, Thomas could have a lot more chances to make a pass when he’s pressured. 

“Make the right play,” Thomas said. “I’m not worried about getting 10 assists per game. I’m not worried about getting 30 points a game. I’m the lead guard out there that’s supposed to make the right play each and every time down. So the game is going to dictate what happens. If it’s going to be a game where I need to score 30, I’m going to go do that. If it’s going to be a game where I need to facilitate and make the extra pass then I have to do that. So I don’t worry about trying to get a certain amount of assists or going into games like, oh, I’m going to pass more today. Nah, that’s not me. And that will never be me. I just go out there and try to make the right play.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

WALTHAM – When Marcus Smart went down with a left ankle injury against the Knicks in the preseason finale, he knew the timing was bad.

Oct 19, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; New York Knicks center Joakim Noah (13) grabs the ball against Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Before going down with an ankle injury Marcus Smart (36) was playing his typical intense D last Wednesday. (Bob DeChiara-USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM – When Marcus Smart went down with a left ankle injury against the Knicks in the preseason finale, he knew the timing was bad.

Smart has been working hard ever since the end of Game 6 of the Hawks series to be the leader of a Celtics team ready to take that next step. Then he took a wrong step against the Knicks last Wednesday and his season has been put on hold for at least two weeks, as he announced after Tuesday’s practice. 

“A couple weeks. That’s the projection that they gave me, really just not trying to rush anything and just trying to make sure that we can limit this from happening again,” Smart said. “We’re taking every precaution we can with it.” 

But that means Smart, the projected sixth man for Brad Stevens, won’t be suiting up against the Nets when the season tips off Wednesday at TD Garden. 

“It sucks. It does suck just because you work so hard and, especially with these guys out here, you’ve been in the battles in practice and the fighting, and preseason,” Smart lamented. “I mean, the last game of preseason you get hurt, everything’s going wrong for you. But I’m optimistic about it and this team is. I’m just waiting to come back and get on the court with those guys.”

The best sign Tuesday was the sight of Smart on the sideline, chirping at his teammates and not wearing a boot on the injury foot.

“I’m feeling better. The swelling’s going down,” Smart said. “I’ve been in the training room, working with those guys and trying to help strengthen the ankle and get all the fluid out. It shouldn’t be too long. But like I said, better safe than sorry.”

Smart injured the same ankle early on in his rookie year with the Celtics and appeared to be in serious pain last Wednesday. Smart admitted that he feels somewhat fortunate that it’s only two weeks. 

“Definitely. With this being the same ankle that pretty much blew up before my rookie year really bad and missed almost a couple months with that,” Smart said. “For me to be out of the boot and walking on it right now, two weeks from the injury is a good sign.

“This isn’t my first ankle sprain and I know it won’t be my last. We’ve just got to let it heal on its own, let your body do what it does.

“I wasn’t as nervous just for the fact that it didn’t feel as bad as the first one I did my rookie year. I kind of knew what it was, it was sprained and I just thank God that it wasn’t more. It was taped. That does help but obviously, as we’ve seen, even though you’re taped, it still happened.” 

In the meantime, Smart will be very vocal, imploring his teammates to play the kind of defense that is his trademark. 

“Definitely. That’s one of the perks about me. I’m able to coach guys off the court, even if I’m not playing,” Smart said. “That’s one of the things that these coaches and my teammates love about me. It’s just something unique that I think about myself. I’m able to stay engaged even though I’m not on the floor.” 

What will he be working on?

“I’m still working, like stationary ball-handling, stationary shooting once they allow me to get on the floor a little bit and get on my feet a little bit. It’s a big deal. It’s a big key for me. Every play, every athlete, you’re a competitor and you want to get back out there but you’ve got to see the reality that you’re going to feel better before you actually are better and take the time to let your body heal.

“This isn’t my first ankle injury. this is nothing new to me. It won’t be my last. This isn’t the first or last ankle injury that they’re going to see or that they’ve seen. Those guys do a really good job with what they do and they understand and they know what they’re doing.

“We’re going to be good, really good. We have a lot of players that can do a lot of things. Every day in practice we’re pushing each other and everybody’s showing the things they can do. There’s a lot of potential. As long as we stay focused and focus on the things we’re told, we can be as good as we want.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia