Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Sloan tried to save some clock in the third quarter of Monday night’s Celtics-Nets tilt in Brooklyn, letting an inbound slowly roll past midcourt as the Nets set their offense — a move known as “walking the dog.”
As Sloan learned Monday, don’t walk the dog around Smart. Standing a few feet away from the incredulous Nets guard, Smart pounced on the ball from center-court. He appeared to come away with the ball cleanly and was looking to dish it off before Sloan wrapped him up, but the referee ended up blowing the whistle and calling for a jump ball.
CSNNE’s play-by-play man Mike Gorman likened the move to a cobra.
CBS Boston – Be Ready for Anything with Marcus Smart on the Floor
“I’ve never seen a guy dive on a ball rolling up the court before,” head coach Brad Stevens said after practice Tuesday. “It was a heck of a play. I think it surprised everybody.”
The other Celtics agreed.
“I’ve actually never seen that,” echoed Amir Johnson, an 11-year veteran. “A lot of guards try to save time on the clock by rolling the ball up, and he timed it perfect – like a snake out there, battling for it. It was pretty neat to see.”
Because of injuries, Marcus Smart has played in just 13 of Boston’s 34 games so far this season. Last season, he missed 15 games. He also famously mangled his fingers during a summer league game. Maybe it’s not the best idea for him to be diving on the floor and generally looking like a bowling ball knocking down pins.
But that’s who he is, and because of that we get moments like the one in Brooklyn where it looked like he stole someone’s lunch money.
That’s my kind of basketball. Before that play, I didn’t truly have one favorite player on this roster, but I do now: The Cobra.
Related: ESPN Boston – Don’t ‘walk the dog’ around the Celtics’ Marcus Smart | Providence Journal – Marcus Smart’s energy helped wake up struggling Celtics
On Page 2: Fingers crossed for Isaiah’s thumb
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Thomas has “a light” thumb sprain that should not keep him out of the lineup for Wednesday night’s game against the Detroit Pistons. Having players healthy is always a goal for any team, but the Celtics can ill afford to suffer another player down to injury in the backcourt.
Bradley, who got hit in the left hip during Saturday’s loss to the Nets and sat out Monday’s rematch in Brooklyn, observed Tuesday’s practice from the sideline in street clothes and spent the end of the session chatting with Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
“[Bradley is] feeling a little bit better today,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “Still not likely to play either of the next two games.”
Thomas was dressed for practice, but had his left wrist and thumb taped.
“He didn’t practice. He had a small sprain, slight sprain, I don’t know how you characterize it,” said Stevens. “But we just held him out just for practice. He’ll play [Wednesday].”
ESPN Boston – Avery Bradley (hip) likely out next 2 games
We know the Celtics’ roster is so deep that at times it’s been unclear who should play and who should sit. But that doesn’t apply to Thomas – he must play for the Cs to be effective. That would be true even if Bradley wasn’t out right now. Keep your fingers crossed.
Related: MassLive – Avery Bradley to miss next two games; Jordan Mickey wins D-League award
On Page 3: Dream on
Boston has a great collection of young talent, but the Celtics don’t have a player you could build a franchise around. Simmons is just that, and he’d be a perfect fit in Brad Stevens’ offense.
The Celtics have been searching for a true point guard for a while. With Simmons handling the ball, he should be able to take enormous pressure off Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley and supercharge an offense that can struggle to score at times. The Celtics, with Simmons, would be scary good next year; they could challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers as the best team in the East.
It’s a question that probably every Celtics fan is pondering, and undoubtedly Danny Ainge is, too. Would you be willing to package the rights to the Brooklyn Nets’ 2016 draft pick, which projects to be in the lottery, to trade for a proven but flawed all-star such as DeMarcus Cousins, who might – might – be the missing piece to make the Cs a contender?
Or, would you want the Celtics to hang onto that pick, which might – might – yield Ben Simmons, a 6’10” freshman at LSU who is averaging 20 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and two steals per game? That’s a difficult choice to make. And it’s possible that neither one becomes reality, especially as the Cousins trade is merely a rumor. But if it was up to me…
I don’t want the Celtics to go after Cousins. Yes, he’s got a world of talent, but I just don’t care for his personality or his new insistence on shooting threes. He attempted only eight triples total during 2014-15; this season he’s averaging 3.7 per game and making just 31%.
Meanwhile, Simmons, is a clever passer who looked smooth and poised last night in a win over no. 9 Kentucky, posting 14 points, 10 rebounds and three assists despite sitting with foul trouble for much of the first half. He functions as LSU’s point guard – at 6’10”! That is a whole lotta upside, which in my eyes is worth the risk of holding onto the pick and hoping for the best with the ping pong balls.
If you’re dreaming of one of these scenarios, hang tough until the trade deadline on February 18. Danny’s direction will start to become more clear by then.
And, finally: IT visits Woj
We all admire reporter Adrian Wojnarowski for his WojBomb scoops that are never wrong. His new podcast – while certainly not on the same level as Rainin’ J’s – is pretty cool, and more so this week since Isaiah Thomas is his guest today. Should be worth a listen.
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