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.
Stevens wouldn’t tip his hand when asked who will start in Crowder’s place moving forward, but stressed that multiple players on the team’s roster will have to step up in his absence. Without Crowder, who had started all 66 games this season, Boston’s lack of swingman depth is exposed. Turner is maybe Boston’s closest thing to a backup small forward, though he’s utilized in a hybrid ball-handler role with smaller lineups off the bench. The team will not only lean heavier on Turner, but also Marcus Smart, a second-year guard who has occasionally been tasked with guarding bigger swingmen, and Jonas Jerebko, a veteran forward who the team prefers to play as an undersized 4 (his numbers at the 3 have been less than stellar) but has the length that can help him defend opposing small forwards.
Said Stevens: “Inevitably, you’re probably going to play one of those three young guys. It may not be the same guy every night but they’re going to play most every game. So we’re going to need those guys to produce and to contribute to winning. That’s what they practice for, that’s why they lift, that’s why they go to Maine [Red Claws of the D-League], and that’s why we have to depend on each other as a team.”
ESPN Boston – How Jae Crowder’s absence impacts the Celtics
John said it yesterday: the Cs perch in the upper-half of the eastern conference playoff bracket, already on shaky ground, is officially in danger of collapsing. Crowder has been a steadying perimeter defender — unafraid of checking any small forward that takes the court across from him. He’s also grown his offensive game exponentially, and the Celtics will miss his much improved three-point shooting. His injury just so happens to coincide with a portion of the schedule ripe with excellent small forwards, and the Cs will have to find someone other than Crowder to neutralize them.
So, how, exactly, will they do that? Stevens will probably play the match-ups — choosing to start Smart one night and go small, and then go with a bit more size on other nights with Jerebko. Smart is an incredibly versatile defender, having shown the ability to hound guards his size and then muscle up on power forwards when asked to do so. If the Celtics are to tread water without Crowder, Smart’s continued growth as a two-way, position-versatile player will be a significant reason why.
Then, the question becomes, which unproven youngster makes an impact during this stretch run? Is this finally when James Young finds his long-range shooting touch? Does RJ Hunter, used sparingly since November, get a shot? Stay tuned. And get better quick, Jae.
Related Links: Mass Live – Jae Crowder injury: Boston Celtics wing out at least two weeks with sprained ankle | Boston Herald – Jae Crowder out two weeks, Kelly Olynyk close to return | CSNNE – Celtics brace for tough stretch without Crowder
On page 2, but here’s the good news: Kelly’s set to return Tuesday
After going through a full practice Sunday, the injured big man said he is “striving” to suit up against the Indiana Pacers in a couple of days. Olynyk believes he will be a game-time decision after missing the last 11 contests.
“It’s feeling better. It’s loosening up,” he said after Sunday’s practice. “The muscle is getting stronger each day from (Celtics strength and conditioning coach Bryan Doo). And that’s really what it comes down to, if it’s strong enough to rebound and take a hit and help shoot the ball.”
Head coach Brad Stevens said he thought Olynyk looked “solid” at practice. Wanting to push the 24-year-old back toward game shape, Stevens said the team scrimmaged partially for Olynyk to “get up and down and kind of get the rust off a little bit.”
Olynyk’s tentative return tomorrow night doesn’t serve to mask the absence of Crowder, but it does soften the blow a bit and adds front-court depth as the Cs look to hold on to a top-four playoff spot.
When Kelly went down right before the all-star break, it coincided with arguably his best stretch of play as a pro. He shot lights out in January and into early February and seemed to grow in confidence with each flick of the wrist — this from a guy who was plagued by a lack of confidence in his first two seasons in the league.
I mention all of this because coming off of a month long absence, it could take Kelly a bit of time to rediscover his shooting stroke. Shooters rely on rhythm and a month away from game action is the antithesis of rhythm. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kelly endures a few 2-10 and 1-6 shooting nights on his way back to 100%.
Though hopefully this time next week I can make fun of myself for writing the above paragraph.
And finally, a long-term deal for Evan Turner?
Danny Ainge told the Boston Globe that the Celtics would like to re-sign versatile guard Evan Turner.
“Yes,” Ainge said when asked if they’d like to re-sign Turner. “We’re big fans of Evan. I think Evan likes us and we like him.”
Turner, a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year, is averaging 10 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game this season. Turner’s 45.9 eFG percentage is a career-high, and he’s easily having his best year on the defensive end.
“As you know I’m a fan of Evan and I think he’s had a really good year,” Ainge added. “I think he’s had a good two years [with the Celtics]. He won a lot of games for us. Down the stretch of games, he’s a good guy to have on your team, he’s a versatile player. He plays multiple positions.”
Depending on the price, I’m with Danny Ainge on this one. Turner’s versatility, his court vision, his confidence (bordering on irrational) are all things I want on this team long-term. I was hoping the Cs would ship him off this past off-season to free up playing time for the James Youngs of the world, but without ET, the Cs would not be a top three team in the East.
I’ve heard some say that Turner is a rich man’s Jordan Crawford: A rudderless enigma destined to wander the league (National, Developmental, Chinese, you pick the league) in search of reaching his potential, until miracle workers Ainge and Stevens injected life and direction into him, much to the disbelief of others. Turner’s a far more complete player than Crawford ever was, but it does beg the question: If Turner does leave Boston, is he a bust elsewhere? It’s possible we won’t find out until the end of his next contract in green.
Related links: Mass Live – Danny Ainge: Boston Celtics ‘big fans’ of impending free agent Evan Turner
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