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Celtics notebook

With new players, Celtics focusing on minute details

Celtics coach Brad Stevens is still trying to figure out his post-Rajon Rondo rotation.Alex Brandon/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — When Rajon Rondo was shipped to Dallas for three game-ready players, Celtics coach Brad Stevens was left with a math problem.

“We had one rotation player that was playing 30-plus minutes a game for us that left and we add three that you can throw into any game at any time,” Stevens said. “And you have all of our other rotation players that are still here.

“So you’re balancing all that. It’s a tough balance. They’ve all been professionals about it.”

Stevens is still figuring out where and how to squeeze Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright, and Jae Crowder into the action.


Minutes already were scarce.

Adding Nelson was relatively easy. He started against the Magic on Tuesday and has averaged 21.5 minutes in his first four games. Crowder and Wright have averaged 12.3 and 10.5 minutes, respectively, in their first four games.

“I think all those guys, especially Jameer, Brandan, and Jae — I’ve probably talked more to Jae about it than anybody else — but I think they all realize that there’s a transition period for them, for our team,” Stevens said.

Nowhere is more crowded than the Celtics frontcourt, where Wright is in the mix with Jared Sullinger, Brandon Ba ss, Tyler Zeller, and Kelly Olynyk.

“Every night, there’s going to be somebody you can ask about,” Stevens said. “That’s just the way our roster’s structured right now at the ‘4’ and the ‘5’.

“It’s a tough situation. The one good thing about it, I think we all know all five of those guys can play.”

Road test coming

The Celtics haven’t had a road trip longer than two games this season. Only the Wizards have played fewer road games (11).

Both teams face their first true road tests in the coming weeks. The Wizards start a six-game swing through the Western Conference on Monday.


The Celtics play 10 of 16 games on the road in January, with a six-game run through the West near the end of the month. Away games haven’t been kind to the Celtics this season. They are 3-9 on the road, with two of those victories coming against the woeful 76ers.

“Every night in this league is hard home or away,” Stevens said. “So I think there are particular challenges no matter [what]. The challenge of feeling comfortable anywhere is difficult in this league.

“The one thing I haven’t been able to determine is knowing exactly how that game’s going to look on a given night. And that’s what we always see in the NBA. The NBA is an amazing league from the standpoint [that] there’s tons of close games every night, and road or home you have to execute to win. I think we’ve gotten better in some of those areas, but also for us, it’s been a lot of steps forwards, steps back.”

Wizards impressive

There was no denying that the Wizards were a threat in the Eastern Conference coming into the season, but after facing them three times, Stevens took it a step further.

“I think they could win the East,” Stevens said.

By no means was he bypassing teams such as the Raptors, Bulls, or Cavaliers, but the Wizards have an undeniable mix of talent and depth, Stevens said.

“I think there’s probably a couple of other teams that could, too,” Stevens said. “But you look at the talent in the backcourt, you look at the depth in the frontcourt and the talent then you just add guys like [Paul] Pierce and [Rasual] Butler playing at such a high level, they’ve got a lot of weapons.”


As for his own team, the Celtics are in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, 2½ games behind the Nets for eighth place (12 behind Toronto in the Atlantic Division). But with so many games left, Stevens is staying in the moment.

“We talk about all that stuff, but I think it’s more important to talk about today,” Stevens said. “I think the playoffs is a great thing to talk about especially as you look at the East. It’s pretty wide open, although you’re starting to see some separation even in the spots below one through four. We all have to play well to get a chance to do that so playing well takes precedent over everything else.”

Bradley shakes slump

Avery Bradley snapped out of a mini-slump by following up a 20-point game against Orlando with a 17-point night against Brooklyn. But before that, he was shooting a combined 30 percent in the previous six games. “I think water finds its level,” Stevens said. “He’s not going to shoot 30 percent for long.” However, he was 0 for 5 from the field Saturday, finishing with 2 points . . . At first glance, Kris Humphries’s shooting numbers have dived with the Wizards compared with the season he spent in Boston. It’d be easy to blame his midrange shooting, but those numbers have remained at the same clip, 45 percent. Instead, he has struggled from 5 to 14 feet (11 for 32). Stevens said Humphries shouldn’t stretch out beyond the 3-point line. “I think some guys, you do, and maybe in the corner. But I think his comfort level is just inside the line.” . . . Marcus Thornton (left calf) and James Young were inactive.


Julian Benbow can be reached at jbenbow@globe.com.