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Celtics hope for some sense of normal

Celtics guard Evan Turner suffered a sprained right thumb in Wednesday night’s loss to the Hawks.JIM DAVIS/GLOBE STAFF

WALTHAM — Brad Stevens joked prior to Wednesday’s 105-91 loss to the Atlanta Hawks that because of all the changes the Celtics were making, he asked his bosses to e-mail him an updated roster each morning.

Though only a quip, there’s been a revolving door on Causeway Street over the last month. But with the NBA trade deadline still more than a month away on Feb. 19, things appear to be slowing down.

And so, Stevens and the players can properly begin a process that is achievable only with some sense of regularity and a heaping helping of time — cohesion.


After a disappointing showing in the final three quarters against the Hawks, Thursday’s walkthrough awarded the Celtics an opportunity ahead of Friday’s game against the Chicago Bulls to step back and pinpoint details that have sent the Green to losses in 10 of their last 13 games.

“We didn’t pay enough attention to detail to beat that team,” Stevens said of the Eastern Conference-leading Hawks. “We talked before the game, it takes intense concentration for 48 minutes to beat that team, and we weren’t even close to that.

“Whatever the reason for that, whether it’s because we’re not there yet, because we weren’t there [Wednesday] night, whatever the case may be, you know what you need to do better.”

An already young roster has been made even younger with the slew of trades. Rookie Marcus Smart has become a core player almost overnight.

Newcomer Jae Crowder walked into a starting job after filling a bench role with Dallas, now playing big minutes while learning a new offense and defense on the fly.

So, the primary emphasis of Thursday’s walkthrough and film session was where to catch the ball, how to anticipate and defend cuts, and how best to orchestrate Plan B when Plan A falls through.


“I don’t think I’m overstating this, but we don’t have the margin to throw the ball away and give them 10 points in transition,” Stevens said. “We don’t have the margin to not get back on defense. We’ve got to be able to do every little thing well and then make them earn their baskets.

“Our half-court defense is good enough, even against the really good teams. If we can just have reasonable offense and make them play against our half-court defense, we should have a shot. But if we just throw the ball over to them and give them run-outs or don’t get back in transition, we’re in trouble.”

Extra attention has been paid to scouting reports as the Celtics search to exploit opponent weaknesses. But the easiest way to take advantage of a weakness is by bettering oneself first.

This team has little of the familiarity of the great teams in the league, but the early strides made by the young roster over the last month have players feeling that success is not out of reach.

“[We’re] very confident,” Crowder said. “A lot of things have been thrown at us, and the way that we’ve responded . . . it’s been great.

“Our coaches see us trying to go in the right direction as a unit. The older guys are still battling, and us younger guys are still learning as much as possible on the fly. But I think we’re going in the right direction, for sure.”


Turner has sprain

Turner missed the walkthrough after being diagnosed with a sprained right thumb, suffered when he hit the knee of Atlanta’s DeMarre Carroll on Wednesday.

“I thought it was broken, to tell you the truth, because I couldn’t really grip with it or anything,” Turner said. “If you threw me the ball, it kind of hurt because it hurt the inside of it.”

Turner has started the last nine games at shooting guard, averaging 9.4 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. He has played in every game this season, his 24.5 minutes per game tied for third on the team with Kelly Olynyk.

While Stevens was noncommittal about Turner’s status for Friday, Turner seemed upbeat.

“I’ll be fine,” he said. “I just need a day for it to rest, heal up, and get a little bit better. We’ll figure out a way to tape it up and I’ll be fine. I’ve got a left hand, so that’s all that matters.”

Left wanting more

The Celtics had only nine healthy bodies for practice. Jared Sullinger and James Young were sent home with illness but are expected to play Friday . . . The Celtics have 12 players on the active roster but will make an addition prior to tip-off against the Bulls. “We’ll have a minimum of 13,” Stevens said. “I don’t know exactly how that’s all going to shake itself out. I know you have to have 13, we’ll have that. We’ll find out.”

Andrew MacDougall can be reached at andrew.macdougall@globe.com