The Celtics selected Abdel Nader with the 58th pick of the 2017 draft. In July 2018, the team intended to waive Nader before they found a trade partner in the Thunder. The move that helped both teams financially, as Boston sent the Thunder cash considerations but avoided paying Nader his partially guaranteed salary.
It seemed likely that the Thunder would later waive Nader, too, but instead he has become a dependable part of their bench rotation. He entered Sunday’s game averaging 6 points and 1.9 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per game.
“I think he’s really taken more steps in OKC,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “He’s in a great place with a great structure, great coaching and he just continues to become better and better. He’s a guy that you can put in the game and impact winning with because he can shoot it, he can drive it, he’s great in those slots, catching it on the run and driving it. Then he’s a long athletic guy that cares and that usually adds up to a pretty good defender as well. He’s done a good job. I’m happy for him. Like him a lot.”
Nader had 6 points and 2 rebounds in his team’s 105-104 win over the Celtics on Sunday night at TD Garden.
The Celtics remain in a bit of a holding pattern as they await further guidance from the NBA regarding the coronavirus outbreak.
The team had doctors speak to the players about safety measures last week. Stevens said he has not spoken to his team about the possibility of playing games without fans. But if it came to that, he did have one suggestion.
“If we do that, I hope they move the games to the afternoon so we can get it in a little earlier,” he said. “Hopefully we don’t have to do that.”
Celtics forward Gordon Hayward returned on Sunday after missing two games because of a knee contusion. Stevens said that he was not facing any minutes restriction. Jaylen Brown missed his third game in a row because of a strained hamstring and is expected to miss Tuesday’s game against the Pacers, too.
Hayward had 24 points and 5 rebounds.
Finding the range — finally
Grant Williams started his NBA career by missing 25 3-pointers in a row. He mostly steadied himself after that, but another slightly smaller rut emerged over the past month. After starting the game by missing a pair of 3-pointers, Williams had been 0 for his last 13. Then in the third quarter he hit one of his most difficult attempts of all, a scattered, contested step-back try from the right corner.
This one went their way
The Celtics haven’t had a ton of luck on coaches challenges this year, but they were successful on a big one midway through the fourth quarter. With 5:24 left and OKC leading, 97-96, Marcus Smart was whistled for fouling Dennis Schroder on a 3-pointer. It would have been Smart’s fifth foul and it would have given the Thunder three big free throws. But the review showed that Nerlens Noel committed an illegal screen.