No sooner had three players been cleared to play yesterday after bouts with the flu than something worse emerged for the Celtics on the injury front.
Gordon Hayward ran head-first into the sizeable shoulder of Hawks forward John Collins in the first quarter of the Celtics’ 129-120 win, and after heading to the locker room in a dazed state, was sent home. Celtics coach Brad Stevens had no further information on Hayward, who has played well over the past five games since recovering from an ankle sprain.
Al Horford, who had taken time off earlier this season due to left knee soreness, banged the knee during yesterday’s game, and later returned for the stretch run.
But Stevens said the team has come up with a rest program for Horford that will involve missing an unspecified number of games over the last 12 games of the season.
“We have three or four games already picked out over the next 12 that Al will not play, so if he feels like tomorrow he doesn’t feel good, he won’t play Monday,” Stevens said of tomorrow’s game against the Nuggets. “We’ll make sure that we manage that over the course of time. He’s felt great all the way through. It’s the first time this has come up. And so, that’s why I didn’t want to put him back in. For whatever reason, he felt better in the fourth. He came up and said he wanted to go in.”
Horford didn’t sound concerned, saying, “Knee is fine. I just bumped knees at the end of the half, but it felt much better going out there in the second half.”
Asked about his new rest plan, Horford said, “I think it’s just the amount of games that we’ve been playing at the level that we’ve been playing, and just making sure that I’m at my best and we are all at our best come playoff time.”
Kyrie hits the boards
After going approximately five years between his first and second triple-doubles, Kyrie Irving nearly pulled off the feat in consecutive games for No. 3 when he fell one assist shy with yesterday’s 30-point, 11-rebound, nine-assist performance. The 11 boards were a career high.
The rounding of Irving’s game does indeed illustrate a change in what he’s being asked to do.
“I’m just trying to play the game the right way, play with just unbelievable effort, making sure I’m getting guys involved, but staying aggressive looking for my shot,” he said. “As I do that more, it starts to open up for my teammates. I think I was being a little more conservative over the past games before All-Star break, and since then I’ve just tried to be as aggressive as possible. When I’m aggressive, the team is aggressive, and it helps us. It’s a lot easier to get assists when you’re looking for your shot first, if that makes sense. Coming off and you’re acting like you’re about to shoot, you can see the defense collapsing off just a simple play. Just reading it really well, so.”
Above all, Irving has been rebounding at a high rate, averaging almost seven boards over his past six games.
“I just wasn’t asked to do it a lot in Cleveland,” he said. “Tristan (Thompson) was like an offensive rebound maniac and ‘Bron was trying to get every rebound. I was with some thirsty guys for rebounding. And that’s OK, that’s their job and I fully support that. So I wasn’t really down there that much. I’ve always been capable of doing it, but helping our bigs here is a point of emphasis for us. And we finish out defensive possessions with rebounds, and especially as guards, it helps our bigs just feel good about boxing their guy out, and keeping John Collins and (Dewayne) Dedmon off the board, keeping these other big guys off the board is a tough task. It’s our job. We’re playing with Mook at the 4, we’re pretty small. But we have length, we just have to do the little things like boxing out and finishing defensive possessions.”
Push for playoffs
Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce was an assistant on Brett Brown’s Philadelphia staff prior to getting the Atlanta job this year, and understands better than many what the Celtics are trying to get back to this season.
“Obviously playing these guys in the playoffs last year, we know what to expect,” he said. “When it’s that time of year, and it’s definitely that time of year, up and downs, whatever you want to call it, this team is preparing themselves for what they’re built for, and that’s the playoffs.
“You see when they’re on, when they’re really good, it’s on the defensive end, the toughness,” Pierce said. “We’re looking back at the last game and felt good about how we played until the fourth quarter came, and next thing you know it’s 30-16 and we scored 38 points in the second half, and that’s who the Celtics are and that’s what I know what they’re trying to get back to as they prepare for this playoff run.”
Sick bay finally cleared out yesterday, with Terry Rozier, Daniel Theis and Guerschon Yabusele all cleared to play after a mini-flu epidemic.
“They’re feeling better,” said Stevens, who, when asked about preventative measures, said, “Lots of hand sanitizer. Telling people that are sick to stay home. We also had a couple members of our staff that had it, too. Jamie (Young) got a small vacation here the last three days. So, this is part of the NBA, these things go through teams, just like everything else. Just part of it.”
Normal preventative measures didn’t seem to work in this instance, though. Everyone on the team, coaches included, got a flu shot.
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Celtics notebook: Gordon Hayward, Al Horford banged up have 1065 words, post on www.bostonherald.com at March 16, 2019. This is cached page on Talk Vietnam. If you want remove this page, please contact us.