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Celtics notebook

Evan Turner, Marcus Smart get lots of playing time in opener

Jared Sullinger shoots over the 76ers’ Nerlens Noel during the first quarter Monday night.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

With Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green both out with injuries, Celtics coach Brad Stevens gave heavy minutes to a pair of newcomers in Monday night’s preseason opener against the 76ers at TD Garden.

Evan Turner and Marcus Smart received the starting nods and each flourished in their own particular ways during the Celtics’ 98-78 win.

Turner, playing for his third NBA team, displayed the versatility that has made him an intriguing asset, scoring 15 points with 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and a steal in 31 minutes.

And while Smart expectedly struggled from the field — he was 0 for 8 — he did add 6 assists, 3 steals, and strong backcourt defense.


“I thought they did a pretty good job,” Stevens said. “I mean, Evan’s stats are great, 15 and 10, that’s awfully good. Marcus didn’t shoot it as well as Evan, but Marcus’s value and what Marcus does to affect the game is going to be hard to find on a stat sheet in a lot of games. I mean he’s so, so tough defensively and he’s one of these guys that I think will get stronger as the game goes along defensively. And that’s hard to play against for the whole time.”

With what Stevens calls the “evenness” on the roster and a lot of nagging early injuries, the starting lineups in the coming weeks will be intriguing.

With Rondo out with his fractured left hand and Green sitting with a strained left calf, Stevens mixed up the lineup. Eleven Celtics played at least 13 minutes, including recently acquired Marcus Thornton, who scored 14 points in 14 minutes on 5-for-13 shooting.

Brandon Bass played despite a corneal abrasion and added 15 points in 20 minutes and rookie James Young scored 10 points in 20 minutes.

With no prominent center, Stevens moved second-year power forward Kelly Olynyk there, starting him alongside Jared Sullinger. The result was predictably ghastly with a lineup that had played little together. Olynyk had 14 points and nine rebounds and Sullinger finished with 10 and 13.


Stevens said his early lineups are subject to change.

“You have to figure out what works best,” he said. “We don’t have to have true positions by the way people would define them. What we have to do is we have to win those positions.

“As I told our players, by no means this is set in stone and it will probably change throughout the preseason.”

Rapid return

Chris Johnson made a splash with the Celtics last season, sticking with the club after a pair of 10-day contracts. He signed a three-year deal with Boston, but the swingman was waived last week because of his nonguaranteed deal and the team’s glut of small forwards.

Johnson quickly was claimed by the 76ers and Monday returned to the Garden.

“It was a surprise [to get waived], but I was fortunate that they gave me advice on what to do and thankfully Philadelphia chose to pick me up,” he said during shootaround. “I just want to be in this league as long as I can, be given an opportunity and I’m just thankful to be here.”

While Johnson made a positive impact with the Celtics, the nonguaranteed deal made him expendable. He was waived along with Chris Babb, whose contract was also nonguaranteed.

“You can only control what you can control,” he said. “It’s weird being back. I love Boston, but I’m looking for the opportunity in Philly now. I thank [the Celtics] for bringing me in, Brad Stevens for giving me an opportunity to be here. If I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t be here right now.”


Stevens said Johnson was an exemplary player in his system.

“I’m really happy for him. I like Chris a lot,” Stevens said.

“You talk about you’re going to have to match his energy because he’s a huge energy player. He gets down the corners [to shoot 3-pointers] quicker than most anybody in the league. You’ve got to be able to match that from our standpoint.

“As far as a guy you love having on your team, you love having around, you root for throughout every stop, it’s Chris Johnson.”

In his thoughts

Stevens said he hasn’t talked with Butler coach Brandon Miller, his successor at the school, since Miller took a leave of absence for health reasons. “It hits me close to home because he’s my friend and I’ve known him since we were both in high school,” Stevens said. “My only thoughts are with him and hopefully he’ll get through what he needs to get through.” . . . Rondo was on the court before the game taking jumpers with just a bandage covering the scar on his surgically repaired left hand. He took 3-pointers and free throws. Rondo is expected to miss another six weeks . . . Hamilton native Michael Carter-Williams was not available because of right shoulder surgery, but is expected to be ready for the 76ers’ season opener. Third overall pick Joel Embiid made the trip and helped gather rebounds during Philly’s shootaround while not placing much pressure on his surgically repaired right foot . . . Keith Bogans is on the 76ers roster after being acquired from the Cavaliers just days after being acquired from the Celtics. But he was not in Boston and hasn’t been assigned a uniform number.


Gary Washburn can be reached at