In officially announcing the trade that delivered Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks, the Boston Celtics included the following quotes in their news release, including one attributed to the team's four-member managing partners.

“We would like to thank Rajon for everything that he has done for the Celtics organization and the success we have experienced during his tenure with us,” said Danny Ainge, Celtics President of Basketball Operations.

“We would not have won Banner 17 without Rajon and will always consider him one of our most valuable Celtics, both on the court and in the community working with kids. We will always cherish the time he was here,” said Celtics Managing Partners Wyc Grousbeck, Irv Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca and Robert Epstein.

Celtics release Vitor Faverani

December, 18, 2014
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The Boston Celtics announced the release of second-year center Vitor Faverani on Thursday night in order to facilitate the completion of the trade that delivered Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks.

Faverani hasn't participated in on-court activities other than light shooting since February when he injured his knee. He underwent two surgeries, including one in September after experiencing lingering pain and swelling in the knee while attempting to resume basketball workouts in training camp.

The Celtics had hoped to have Faverani back on the court for mid-December, but had recently pushed that timetable back to the new calendar year. With a need to shed a body while bringing back three players from Dallas, Faverani was deemed expendable.

Faverani will eat Faverani's $2.1 million salary. The third and final year of his contract next season was nonguaranteed.

Faverani appeared in 37 games for Boston last season, averaging 4.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 2 blocks over 13.2 minutes per game. He was Boston's opening night starter last year before fading and spending time in the NBA Development League where he suffered the knee injury.

Ironically, the man nicknamed El Hombre Indestructible never could get healthy enough to save his spot on the roster this season.

Video: MacMullan on Rondo trade

December, 18, 2014
Dec 18
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video

ESPN's Jackie MacMullan breaks down why Rajon Rondo is a perfect fit for the Mavericks and why Boston made the move.

Breakdown: How C's get $12.9M exception

December, 18, 2014
Dec 18
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The Boston Celtics will generate a $12.9 million trade exception after their five-player, two-draft pick swap with the Dallas Mavericks is finalized on Thursday evening. Here's how it works:

Boston sends: Rajon Rondo, Dwight Powell

Dallas sends: Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, and a future first- and second-round draft pick

How it works: Each team can present the deal differently to the league in order to maximize trade exceptions generated. Boston essentially lines up the deal by trading Rondo for no return, which generates a $12.9 million exception (his entire 2014-15 salary). Boston absorbs Wright's $5 million salary using Kris Humphries' trade exception ($5.3 million), Nelson's $2.7 million via Joel Anthony's trade exception ($3.8 million), and Crowder via the rest of the Anthony exception (or minimum salary exception).

The next step: Boston was at the roster maximum of 15 players and by receiving three players in return, the Celtics must waive one additional player. That final detail should emerge when Boston formally announces the trade. [Update: The Celtics have released second-year center Vitor Faverani]

Celtics, Mavs finalize Rondo trade

December, 18, 2014
Dec 18
6:24
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The Boston Celtics have traded Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks, the teams announced.

"We would like to thank Rajon for everything that he has done for the Celtics organization and the success we have experienced during his tenure with us," said Danny Ainge, Celtics president of basketball operations.

The Celtics are sending the All-Star point guard and forward Dwight Powell to Dallas for Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson and draft picks. Boston will receive a conditional first-round pick in the 2015 draft and a second-rounder in 2016, as well as a $12.9 million trade exception.

"Welcome to Rajon Rondo the newest member of the Dallas Mavericks," team owner Mark Cuban wrote on the social media application Cyber Dust. Cuban also thanked the three departing players, calling them "Amazing players and better people."

Rondo joins Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons in a high-octane starting five in Dallas.

Parsons addressed the possibility of playing with Rondo earlier Thursday on 103.3 FM ESPN in Dallas.

"To be able to get a guy like Rondo, it's unbelievable," he said. "It's not every day that you can get a point guard of his status, and the way he can pass the ball, he's a difference-maker. To be able have that, with the combination of what we already have with our system and the players put around him, it's special. It's definitely exciting. Like I said, I hope it goes through because he's a heck of a talent, one of [the] better point guards in the NBA."

[Read full story]

(Post updated at 9:30 p.m. to reflect official announcement of trade)

Practice: Smart returns, Wallace sits

December, 18, 2014
Dec 18
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- A handful of notes from Thursday's pre-practice access with the Boston Celtics (non-trade rumor edition):

Smart tries again: Celtics rookie guard Marcus Smart returned to practice Thursday to test his injured left foot with hopes of progressing towards game action. Smart, who missed 10 games last month due to a left ankle sprain and has sat out the past two games with a strained left Achilles, tried to return to practice on Tuesday, but removed himself early from the session after not feeling healthy enough to continue. The team has advised him to take his time with his recovery hoping to keep the No. 6 pick on the floor moving forward.

Wallace sits out: Celtics veteran guard/forward Gerald Wallace sat out Thursday's session after having some fluid drained from his knee. Wallace, whose 2013-14 was cut short by a meniscus tear, is not expected to miss game action. "We’re just doing that to rest him," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "He had a little bit of a knee [issue] that’s a lingering thing, but he’s available to play [on Friday versus Minnesota]."

Praise for Wallace: Earlier this week, we spotlighted Wallace's veteran contributions and noted how much Stevens appreciates being able to lean on Wallace whenever needed despite his limited overall role on this year's team. Stevens made special note Thursday of two instances in Wednesday's game in which Wallace made a savvy veteran play, including a blocked shot while scrambling to cover a miscommunication at the end of the first half. Asked about the man nicknamed Crash, Stevens said, "I was asked earlier this year, 'Are you worried about a guy diving on the floor or a guy [giving up his body]?' I went right into the locker room and just asked, ‘Hey, Gerald, how much money do you think you’ve made because you’ve done all those little things your entire life? And you’ve played the game the way it’s supposed to be played.’ And he continues to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. That’s a great example for young players." When Wallace was asked about how he became a great hustle player, he deadpanned, "Because I can't shoot that good."

Holiday Cheer: The entire Celtics team, including Stevens and his assistants, were set to visit Boston Children’s Hospital on Thursday afternoon to spread holiday cheer to patients. Past events have led to some spirited renditions of holiday tunes and often promotes some quality team bonding -- something that probably can't hurt this team as rumor season opens.

Stevens: Door is open amid trade chatter

December, 18, 2014
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens is taking a diplomatic approach to the early arrival of trade rumor season around his team, opening his office door to those who want to discuss any of the chatter while hoping it allows his team to stay focused on the action on the court.

[+] EnlargeBrad Stevens
Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
With the Celtics engaged in trade talks surrounding team captain Rajon Rondo, including substantive talks with the Dallas Mavericks about a potential swap, Stevens didn't shy away from the topic of trade chatter Thursday and stressed that his biggest challenge is keeping his team locked in on its next game.

"We experienced [trade rumors] all the way through last year," said Stevens, noting he's learned from his first trip through the trade whisper windmill during his rookie coaching campaign last season. "From my standpoint, the most challenging thing of it is just coaching the group and making sure that everybody knows that we’re focused on playing Minnesota [on Friday] and we’re focused on doing what we need to do to get everybody playing at the best level that they can. I think that a lot of these guys that are older have probably dealt with the talk throughout their years in the league. But I don’t know that it’s ever not unsettling.

"So the door is open if anybody wants to talk about it and those type of things. I don’t talk a ton to [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] and his staff, they only [talk trades] if there’s really something that I need to know, right? But it’s one of those things, you just try to do your job the best you can through all the circumstances."

While many coaches attempt to simply ignore the trade chatter or downplay it, Stevens recognizes the emotional obstacle it can present.

"I look at it, first and foremost, everybody is a person," said Stevens. "There’s a lot of emotions that go into those things, and a lot of things that you have to be aware that people can be affected by that. It’s not as easy as saying to your 12 guys, ‘Go play your best.’ You’ve got to make sure that you continue to work, you focus, you help everybody that you can. And then the door is open to talk if people want to talk."

Added Stevens: "I just want [the players] to know that that’s an option. And I won’t necessarily outwardly say that, but our doors are always open. The one thing that I would change about our [practice] facility here is I’d like my office to be on the first floor so that I get a chance to see everybody every day and walk by before practice. But I think that, these guys know, and hopefully they know that we’re approachable and we’re happy to talk about that, and talk about the challenges that come with those rumors and all those other things. Also to be able to say, 'Hey, we’ve all got a task and we’ve all got a job and we still have to focus on that.'"

Stevens was asked if he'd have a larger role or more input in deciding roster moves this season, but said he'd defer to Ainge and his staff while noting, "I just want to be in the loop as they deem appropriate. They are good at their jobs. I’m hired to coach."

Stevens admitted that you could see the impact of trade rumors around the deadline in February, suggesting a bit of anxiety might have turned to relief for players, including Rondo. But after nearly five minutes of trade-related questions on Thursday, Stevens politely tried to steer reporters off the topic.

"It’s part of the NBA. I don’t want to focus on things that aren’t there, right?" he said. "So, at the end of the day, my focus is on -- today, we have a film session, followed by a practice, followed by a visit to a local hospital, and we have to have a great day as a group. We have to have a great day as a team. And it needs to be a productive day to move forward. My focus can’t be on anything else other than that."
Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge acknowledged Thursday that he’s actively involved in trade discussions and, while he wouldn’t talk specifically about rumors surrounding team captain Rajon Rondo, didn’t shy away from addressing topics like what he might be pursuing in trades and how his team might navigate a Rondo-less future.

Sources told ESPN.com Wednesday that the Celtics are engaged in substantive talks with the Dallas Mavericks about a potential Rondo trade, while also holding discussions with numerous other teams.

During his weekly call to Boston sports radio WBZ-FM, Ainge said Thursday that his philosophies on how to return the Celtics to contender status haven’t changed, even as Rondo's reemergence in trade rumors runs counter to Ainge’s insistence that the team sees Rondo in its long-term future.

“Listen, my job is to look at all the different ways and pathways for us to be a championship team,” Ainge told the Toucher & Rich morning show. “This is the time of the year that there’s a lot of talking and calling that’s going on. Part of my job is to explore the variety of ways there are to get us to our next championship, And that’s all we’re trying to do -- just build a winner.”

Ainge noted that talks typically pick up this time of year when players acquired in the offseason become eligible to be traded on Dec. 15. He expects the rumor mill to crank straight through the trade deadline in mid-February and said Boston is both receiving and making calls about ways to tinker with its roster.

“This is a hot rumor time, and there’s a hot rumor time that comes up in the middle of February,” said Ainge. “But from the middle of December to the middle of February, there’s a lot of discussion amongst teams that are trying to tweak their teams in whatever direction they sort of feel their team needs to go. Yeah, we’re having a lot of discussions just like we do every year."

Added Ainge: “When you receive calls, you might not find a partner and a deal that’s satisfactory, so you try to get two or three or four teams involved,” said Ainge. “That’s where a lot of the rumors get started, and misconstrued -- what the purposes of each team is -- so sometimes you’re calling on behalf of doing a deal that’s part of another deal. And so the accuracy of some of the rumors aren’t there. I expect a lot of trade rumors over the next couple months for sure.”

Ainge was asked what this year’s Celtics roster might be capable of if Rondo wasn’t on the team.

“I don’t know. That’s a good question,” said Ainge. “Rajon has been a big part of our team, not just this year but for the past years, as we know. We haven’t really seen what [rookie guard] Marcus Smart has been able to do yet because he hasn’t been healthy, he’s got such a shortage of minutes and opportunities to play with the ankle sprain. So it’s a good question. I don’t think any of us know the answer to that.”

So what might Ainge be looking for in trades?

“That’s easy, let’s get stars,” said Ainge. “Everybody wants a star first. In lieu of getting a star, because there’s very few of those, there’s not very many to go around to the 30 teams, the next option is draft picks, which you hope to be able to find the next stars in the draft. Not every draft is going to be as successful, but you need swings of the bat, so that would be next. Then, the next probably best thing is good, solid players. Not stars, but good players. Guys that can play a role on a team.”

Ainge was asked how long Celtics fans can endure a rebuilding process that already feels tedious after little more than a season trying to build.

“I think Celtics fans want to see good team basketball and winning basketball,” said Ainge. “I think we need to start moving in that direction. We need to win; play the game the right way and win. I don’t know if stars are required. Winning is what’s important. It’s assumed in the NBA that stars are needed and that’s true, but there have been successful teams without a star. But I have every intention of continuing try to find stars. And when I say stars, I mean great players that have a positive affect on winning, not stars that people want to watch, but stars that help winning basketball because I think that’s what Celtics fans want -- to win.”

Rondo trade could prolong rebuild

December, 18, 2014
Dec 18
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BOSTON -- When Rajon Rondo met with reporters following Wednesday's win over the Orlando Magic, he seemed nonplussed by his latest churn through the rumor mill. Who could blame him? He's been down this path each of the last eight seasons and has yet to change ZIP codes.

[+] EnlargeRajon Rondo
AP Photo/Elise Amendola
"[Trade talk has been] a way of life since I've been here," shrugged Rondo. "It's just part of it."

But word that the Celtics were engaged in substantial discussions with the Dallas Mavericks, all while sources indicated that Boston was also talking to teams including the Sacramento Kings, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets, made it clear that these whispers had a bit more merit than any of the chatter that came before them.

So as Celtics fans crushed the refresh button on their Twitter feeds into the early hours of Thursday morning, two sobering realities set in: (1) This might not necessarily be a particularly quick process, especially with another 60 days until the trade deadline; and (2) The team's already-tedious rebuilding process might be on the verge of being extended if the Celtics ultimately elect to deal their captain.

And the latter is probably the toughest pill to swallow in a potential Rondo deal. Love him or hate him, Rondo's presence assured fans here that the Celtics would at least have a chance to contend in the immediate future. His departure would make things far murkier.

The Celtics might emerge with some quality future assets in any potential swap -- sources said the Mavs talked centered around at least one future first-round pick and big man Brandan Wright -- but those parts are unlikely to serve as an accelerator pedal to Boston's rebuild, at least not right now. No, a deal like that puts Boston in reverse, at least for the interim.

A Rondo-less Celtics team seems more likely to toil in the lottery again this season -- something that even a Rondo-led team might be unable to avoid -- and Boston would still have to maneuver with its growing pile of draft picks (unless it desires to draft enough young bodies to fill both its own roster and that of the affiliated Maine Red Claws of the D-League).

Without Rondo, getting established talent to Boston becomes a bit more difficult. Even the most Green Kool-Aid chugging Celtics fan has to admit that the Celtics' young core, as much potential as it has shown, is unlikely to lure a superstar to Boston the way Rondo's presence would. Does Kevin Love even bother securing Red Sox tickets this summer if the Celtics roster is devoid of a star like Rondo?

(Read full story)
BOSTON -- Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo shrugged off his latest immersion into trade whispers on Wednesday night.

[+] EnlargeRajon Rondo
Sam Sharpe/USA TODAY Sports
Even as the Celtics and Dallas Mavericks engaged in substantive discussions about a potential deal involving the 28-year-old point guard, Rondo downplayed the trade chatter while meeting with reporters after Boston's 109-92 win over the Orlando Magic.

"[Trade rumors have been] a way of life since I’ve been here," said Rondo. "It’s just part of it."

Rondo was asked if his preference remains to stay in Boston long term and he smiled before offering, "How many times do you want me to say it?"

When a reporter joked that he could say it one more time given the latest rumors, Rondo laughed.

"We discussed it on Media Day," he said. "My thoughts and opinions, as far as the organization, haven’t changed."

Rondo, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, has maintained that his preference is to continue his career in Boston. The Celtics, however, must decide whether to risk letting Rondo reach the open market, or move him for guaranteed assets before February's trade deadline.

Celtics brass, including president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, assistant general manager Mike Zarren, and team co-owner Steve Pagliuca were in the hallway outside the team's locker room around the same time that Rondo departed the building on Wednesday.

Rondo, who has often been frustrated by trade rumors during his career, took an easy-going approach to the topic on Wednesday night.

"I’m enjoying life," he said. "You can’t win them all. But [my teammates] are funny. I’m young and I’m doing what I love to do, it’s a dream come true. I can’t be upset about anything."

Rondo, in his second season as captain, has emerged as the veteran leader of a young team and has been a calming presence despite early season frustrations.

"I just want to be a better person this year, be a better teammate each year, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job of trying to lead these young guys," said Rondo. "I’m not that old. They make me feel like it."

Rondo was asked if he's better able to handle frustrations at this age.

"It’s hard to say," he said. "Hard to say what if, or coulda shoulda. It is what it is. Everything happens for a reason, and I believe in certain timing, things happen for a reason. I’m 28 and I’m pretty much the veteran guy on this team, that’s just part of it."

Sources: Celtics, Mavs talk Rondo swap

December, 17, 2014
Dec 17
11:30
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The Boston Celtics, after years of flirting with potential Rajon Rondo deals, are in substantive discussions on a trade that would send Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks, according to league sources.

[+] EnlargeRajon Rondo
Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports
Sources told ESPN.com that the Celtics and Mavericks have been discussing a swap that would furnish Boston with multiple draft picks -- including at least one future first-rounder -- as well as blossoming Mavericks center Brandan Wright and other players needed to make the salary-cap math work.

Sources say the Celtics also have been talking to teams such as the Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks about potential Rondo deals, but that the most advanced discussions so far have been with Dallas.

Because Rondo is in the final year of his current contract, sources say that any team that can come to terms on a trade with Boston likely will request permission to confer with Rondo and agent Bill Duffy to get Rondo's input on the new destination, which gives them a level of influence into where he's ultimately dealt.

(Read full story)
video
BOSTON -- On the day that his name made its annual return to trade whispers, Boston Celtics captain Rajon Rondo spearheaded Boston's balanced production by registering 13 points, 15 assists, and 7 rebounds during a 109-92 triumph over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday at TD Garden.

Rondo was flirting with his fourth triple-double of the year in the first half (7 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds) and got an extended second-half rest as backup Phil Pressey (9 points, 4 assists) helped Boston open the game up in the fourth quarter.

Brandon Bass led the double-figure scoring party with 18 points off the Boston bench. Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger scored 16 points apiece, while Kelly Olynyk -- fresh off a 30-point effort on Monday in Philadelphia -- added 15 points and 6 rebounds.

The Magic led by as much as 10 in the first half, but a second-quarter surge helped Boston pull ahead before the intermission.

Goodbye, Sully's slump: Jared Sullinger, who had scored just 15 points on 6 of 31 shooting (19.4 percent) over his past four games, broke out for 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting over 24 minutes.

Air Canada

Best basket that didn't count: Call it Air Canada after Celtics second-year big man Kelly Olynyk got some serious air for a post-whistle dunk in the second quarter. Not to be outdone, Rajon Rondo went behind his back from the blocks for a post-whistle make later in the frame.

Best basket that did count: Olynyk got his man with a pump fake then dunked over both Kyle O'Quinn and Mo Harkless early in the fourth quarter, leaving the entire Boston bench tumbling onto the floor in delight at another delivery from Air Canada.

Loose balls: The Celtics dressed only 11 players and stuck with a 10-man rotation. Rookie Dwight Powell did not play. ... Boston shot 55 percent from the floor overall (44 of 80).

What it means: The Celtics improved to 9-14, while the Magic fall to 10-18. ... Boston gets a practice day Thursday before hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

Smart out vs. Magic; Stevens talks injuries

December, 17, 2014
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Boston Celtics rookie guard Marcus Smart will not play in Wednesday's game against the Orlando Magic and the team is hopeful he can try again to return to practice on Thursday.

[+] EnlargeMarcus Smart
Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images
Smart, who suffered a left Achilles strain in Friday's loss to the New York Knicks, returned to practice on Tuesday, but removed himself early when he didn't feel healthy enough to continue.

Smart missed 10 games last month due to a sprained left ankle and the team has encouraged him to proceed with caution given the Achilles strain.

"[Smart] did some spot shooting and those type of things [at Wednesday's shootaround]," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "[The medical staff] said they are going to try [to get him back at practice] again [Thursday]."

On Tuesday, Stevens said: "[Smart] knows his body. And he knows if he feels right, especially when you’re talking about an Achilles or a knee or an ankle," said Stevens. "It’s a little bit different than an upper-body injury, just because every single movement, you feel it. The directive he was given [Tuesday] was, ‘You see how you feel and you decide.’ Obviously, he didn’t feel great and I don’t think it was anything that happened. I think he just didn’t feel great and pulled himself out. And that’s OK, again, that’s the directive he was given."

Smart is averaging 5.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 0.9 steals over 16.4 minutes per game in 10 appearances.

The Celtics were dressing only 11 players for Wednesday's game. The team is without Smart, James Young (shoulder), Marcus Thornton (calf), and Vitor Faverani (knee).

Young and Thornton were both expected to miss two weeks with recent injuries; Faverani has been out since February and the team is eyeing a return to basketball activities in the new calendar year.

Despite some little bites from the injury bug, Stevens was thankful to have avoided more serious maladies.

"We’ve got 11 guys and 11 guys have to be ready to play and all play well," said Stevens. "I think that every team is going to go through this at certain times. We haven’t gone through it as far as a lot of numbers that much yet. We’ve certainly missed Marcus the better part of this first 20 games some-odd games, but we’ve been pretty fortunate, injury-wise, thus far."

ESPN Stats and Info graphicIt's been a tough year for the league's top picks.
On the heels of Milwaukee's Jabari Parker suffering a torn ACL, Stevens downplayed the idea that the young age of this year's rookie class could be contributing to the first-year injuries.

"[Philadelphia's Joel] Embiid was hurt before he got here, so that one doesn’t really count as far as being injured in the NBA," said Stevens. "I still think it’s more unique circumstances and random than it is age, but there might be a medical study that proves me wrong. I don’t know. But I know there’s a lot of young guys for a lot of years that have played without injury, and I feel bad for Parker, because that’s a hard injury to recover from, but he’ll be diligent in his rehab and I’m sure he’ll be back as soon as possible."

W2W4: C's vs. Magic (Game 23 of 82)

December, 17, 2014
Dec 17
11:00
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The Boston Celtics (8-14, 5-8 home) host the Orlando Magic (10-17, 7-11 away) on Wednesday night at TD Garden (7:30 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

Oh Oh it's Magic: The Magic are an interesting bunch. They are 3-3 in their last six games, having posted wins on the road in Utah and Sacramento to close out a length trip out west, then stole one from the Hawks during a home-and-home series. After starting 6-12, Orlando has simply played better basketball since the end of November. Nikola Vucevic is averaging a double-double for the season (18.3 points, 11.6 rebounds) while Tobias Harris (18.5), Victor Oladipo (15.1), and Evan Fournier (14.4) are all averaging double digits in scoring.

Magic in focus: The Magic rank 25th in the league in offensive rating (98.9) and 18th in defensive rating (104). That places them in the bottom third of the league in net differential (minus-5.1, 23rd). Orlando resides in the back half of the league in most major advanced categories. What do the Magic do well? Orlando ranks sixth in defensive rebound percentage.

Keep shooting, Kelly: Kelly Olynyk scored a career-high 30 points during Monday's win in Philadelphia. The Celtics don't expect him to lead the team in scoring every night out, but he absolutely has to display the aggressiveness he showed Monday. Olynyk didn't pass up open looks and didn't get bashful at the rare times his shot didn't fall. Better yet, he did much of his dirty work in the second half near the basket against a long and athletic 76ers team. The Celtics need that Olynyk in order to be competitive, especially as the team's offense comes back to Earth a bit after a fast start.

Loose Balls: The Celtics are expected to be without rookie guard Marcus Smart (foot). Boston reserves Marcus Thornton (calf), James Young (shoulder), and Vitor Faverani (knee) are also out. ... Vucevic missed six games in December because of a lower-back injury, but has been back for Orlando's last two games. ... A couple notes of interest from STATS LLC: Orlando has been limited to an average of 90.1 points in dropping 11 of 12 to the Celtics. The Magic have lost seven straight in Boston. ... The Magic are averaging 92.3 points on the road and rank near the bottom of the league, but Boston is 28th with 105.2 allowed per game at home.

(Read full game preview)

A Crash course in being a good veteran

December, 16, 2014
Dec 16
7:35
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Boston Celtics veteran Gerald Wallace hadn't touched the floor in over a week's time when coach Brad Stevens looked down the bench and called his name in the first quarter of last week's game against the New York Knicks.

[+] EnlargeGerald Wallace
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images
The 32-year-old Wallace looked up, maybe a bit surprised by the early call, peeled off his warmup suit and headed toward the scorer's table as Stevens instructed him to go guard Carmelo Anthony.

This is Wallace's role now. He's a part-time player (79 minutes in 10 appearances; 12 DNPs) with a starter's contract ($10.1 million in each of the next two seasons) tasked with providing bits of defensive energy for a young team prone to lulls on that end of the floor.

Make no mistake, Wallace's contract is a blot, albeit one that Boston was willing to stomach in order to pry away three first-round picks from the Brooklyn Nets in a deal that looks better with each passing day. And Wallace's salary clog hasn't exactly hurt Boston as it navigates the initial stages of a rebuilding process while avoiding the luxury tax.

Stevens has the luxury of ignoring contract values. His job is to make the most of the players he has at his disposal, regardless of what they make or the ego they own. Wallace already endeared himself to Stevens before the season when he agreed to a reduced role such that Boston could give the majority of the minutes available at his position to younger bodies. And Stevens loves knowing that he can call on Wallace at any moment and know with certainty what he's going to get with him in the game.

Offensively, it won't be much. Not from a guy who has scored seven points on seven shots attempts this season. But, defensively, Wallace is happy to go check an opposing superstar like Anthony for a few minutes and give teammates like Jeff Green a blow, all while living up to his familiar nickname of Crash by tumbling around the court for loose balls.

Wallace's impact is reflected in the team's advanced numbers when he's on the floor. While mindful that it's a small sample, consisting of bite-sized chunks from multiple games, the Celtics are allowing a mere 89.8 points per 100 possessions with Wallace on the court. That's 13.6 points lower than the team's season average (103.4) and 6.2 points lower than the next best player on the team (Marcus Smart at 96). Even Boston's offensive rating climbs with Wallace on the floor, likely the impact of creating transition opportunities off stops.

Is Wallace's production sustainable over a longer sample? Probably not, though we'd point out that Wallace had a defensive rating of 59 (FIFTY-NINE!) over 12 minutes of action against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night (sure, it was the offensively anemic 76ers, but that's still a ridiculous number for a quarter's worth of play).

(Read full post)

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
19.6 1.5 1.0 34.0
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.2
AssistsE. Turner 3.3
StealsK. Olynyk 1.3
BlocksK. Olynyk 0.8