Kelly Olynyk remains sidelined after spraining his right ankle Jan. 22 and will not play in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star Weekend. However, the Celtics’ 7-footer still plans to travel to New York to take part in the rest of the festivities.
Coach Brad Stevens hopes Olynyk can return to practice Wednesday, as the Celtics begin their final West Coast road trip of the season. But he acknowledged that even that target might be “pushing it.”
“It was a significant deal,” Stevens said of the injury. “You know, obviously he’s done some court work, but he hasn’t done extensive court work and he certainly hasn’t done any lateral court work. Anybody that’s ever [injured] the ankle knows that’s a major step.”
Olynyk said this ankle injury is worse than the one he suffered last season. He watched video of the sprain and said, “It was pretty bad.” Olynyk wasn’t able to walk or put pressure on the joint for four or five days; last time he was more mobile.
Olynyk said that given the timing of the All-Star break there was no reason to rush back for Wednesday’s game against the Hawks.
“I’m not trying to push it to the point where you’re going to get a setback or anything, since we do have this added bonus section of time,” Olynyk said. “You’ve got to make sure you’re ready to go and able to help the team as much as you can . . . You know, you don’t want to half-heartedly be out there.”
Plans for the break
With Olynyk out, the Celtics will not have any participants in All-Star Weekend. Stevens said that during the break he will attend his sister-in-law’s wedding in Cleveland. Guard Evan Turner said he did not plan to watch the All-Star Game.
“I don’t watch TV in general,” Turner said. “If it’s on, then cool. But I’ve got other stuff to do. I just never watch it.”
Will he read about it afterward?
“Nah, I really don’t care, to tell you the truth. It just doesn’t float my boat,” Turner said. “I’ll find something else to do. ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ is coming out. I might go check that out.”
Turner was asked who would win an all-Celtics slam-dunk contest, and he peered up at the locker nameplates to remind himself of his choices. He said Boston does not have many high-flying dunkers, and then he settled on guard Phil Pressey as his choice.
Tyler Zeller, sitting in the next stall, suggested rookie forward James Young, but Turner said Young has just two dunks in his arsenal. Young heard this statement from his locker a few feet away.
“You’ve only seen me do two dunks,” he said.
In the first half of the Celtics’ 89-88 win over the Hawks, rookie guard Marcus Smart was scuffling. He went just 1 for 8 from the floor and had four turnovers.
So Stevens inserted veteran guard Marcus Thornton in Smart’s place to start the second half. The move provided a spark, as Thornton drained a pair of quick 3-pointers to spark the Celtics back from an 18-point deficit.
But Smart found redemption, too. He played 8:46 in the final period, with 7 points, an assist, and a steal. His 3-pointer with 2:18 left pulled the Celtics within 84-82.
“He didn’t play well tonight,” Stevens said of Smart, “but he hit huge shots late. And he stepped up when it was all on the line.”
Smart appreciated the second chance.
“It shows a lot on the coaching staff that they trusted me to put me back in down the stretch, even though things weren’t going my way in the beginning,” he said. “But they stuck with me. It shows a lot of respect from those guys that I’ve earned and I’m still earning.”
The Hawks took two separate shuttle buses to TD Garden — standard procedure — but the snow-shrunken lanes and gridlocked roads caused the second shuttle to take about an hour to go about 2 miles . . . Stevens is aware that the Feb. 19 trade deadline is fast approaching and said he is prepared for anything, but is looking forward to some continuity. “Certainly we’re hopeful from our standpoint there’s as minimal change as possible,” he said.