WALTHAM — Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been impressed by Andre Dawkins’s play in the NBA Development League this season. The former Duke guard has averaged 22.1 points and made 46.3 percent of his 3-point attempts in 13 games and was signed to a 10-day contract Jan. 23.
But Stevens’s admiration for Dawkins, who was briefly recalled from the Maine Red Claws on Thursday before being sent back down to play for Maine Friday, goes back further. Stevens recalled Duke’s 82-70 win over Butler Dec. 4, 2010, eight months after their epic title game.
“I remember that game well, because that was [Kyrie] Irving’s freshman year,” Stevens said. “They used to run a spread pick-and-roll with [Mason] Plumlee setting it for Irving, with Dawkins, [Kyle] Singler, and Seth Curry standing around him . . . And you had nowhere to help off of, because they were all phenomenal shooters. [Dawkins] was certainly elite shooting the ball. That stuck in my mind.”
Dawkins is still known for his marksmanship, but has worked diligently to establish the all-around game that is essential in this league.
“Being at Sioux Falls [in the D-League] I had to adjust my game a little bit,” Dawkins said. “I had to be able to make plays off the pick-and-roll and off the bounce. I knew it was good for me to kind of develop those things. I added a little bit of a post-up to my game. It was cool to be able to do some things differently as opposed to just catching and shooting.”
Olynyk on the mend
Kelly Olynyk’s right foot was in a large, protective boot when he met with reporters. The 7-footer sprained his ankle in the win against the Portland Trail Blazers last week and is out indefinitely.
“It’s basically almost treatment overload,” Olynyk said. “You just try to do whatever you can to keep that swelling down and get the pain out of there and try to get it moving as much as I can.”
Olynyk suffered a similar setback last season so is he familiar with the recovery process, but he knows that ankle injuries can be fickle. A Canadian native, he has been selected to play for the international team in the Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star weekend, but it is unclear if he will be ready.
“It could be a week, it could be three weeks, it could be a month,” Olynyk said. “You never know. You keep getting better and evaluate each day.”
The Celtics returned from their grueling six-game road trip early Thursday morning, and with a game against Houston Friday, it was slightly unusual for the team to hold a practice Thursday afternoon.
But Stevens elected to have the practice because it would allow his team to rest Thursday and Friday mornings, as it recoups and readjusts to the time change.
“A couple of them are in the same situation that I am,” Stevens said, smiling. “Hey, no matter what time you get home, your kids get up at a certain time and you’d better be up. But most of these guys got to sleep in, which was good.”
Former Celtics coach Rick Pitino spoke highly of Stevens after Louisville’s win over Boston College on Wednesday night. Pitino said that he even once suggested Stevens as his eventual successor.
“Way before he came [to Boston], I said to my [athletic director] and my staff, ‘When I retire, go after that guy. Whatever it costs, get that guy,’ ” Pitino said. “He’s going to do a fabulous job because it doesn’t get to him — the losing. He understands the journey. He’s going to do a great job.”
Pitino said there were some parallels between Stevens’s current predicament and the one he faced while coaching Boston from 1997-2001.
“It’s tough,” Pitino said. “When I took over, they won 14 or 15 games. He’s taken over the same type situation, except he has a lot of patience and I had very little.”
Stevens smiled when he was asked about Pitino’s comment.
“I don’t think patient would be the first word that anybody that knows me would describe me as,” he said. “But I think that’s anybody in competitive sports.”
It was pointed out to Stevens that he does come across as patient.
“We only spend 15 minutes a day together,” he said with a smile, referring to the assembled media corps. “There’s a lot of day left. There’s a lot of day left.”
Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.