WASHINGTON — Last season, Celtics forward Gerald Wallace was quite vocal about his Patriots fandom, even attending the Super Bowl parade in the middle of the Celtics' season. But he was traded last summer, leaving an opening for a Patriots super fan on Boston's roster.
So perhaps forward Kelly Olynyk's friendship with Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman will have to do. Olynyk said he was introduced to Edelman by a mutual friend after he was drafted by the Celtics in 2013.
"Obviously being around Boston all the time, we'd see each other a lot," Olynyk said. "He sent me some of his gear. I didn't talk to him today, obviously, but he's a great guy."
In the Celtics' locker room at the Verizon Center, the large flat-screen television was showing recent Wizards highlights, as is custom before a game. But the small television in the trainer's room was turned to the Patriots' playoff game against the Chiefs, which New England won, 27-20.
Marcus Smart and Evan Turner were among those watching from the training tables. After Rob Gronkowski caught a third-quarter touchdown to give the Patriots a 21-6 lead, Olynyk mildly celebrated.
"He's a beast," Olynyk said of Gronkowski.
Hunter to D-League
The Celtics assigned rookie guard R.J. Hunter to the D-League's Maine Red Claws on Saturday, as he joined fellow rookies Terry Rozier and Jordan Mickey in a game against the Canton Charge. Hunter had made just one other appearance with Maine this season, scoring 28 points in a Dec. 30 game in Portland.
In Canton's 96-83 victory, Hunter had 9 points on 4-of-17 shooting in 39 minutes, Rozier had 17 points and seven assists in 29 minutes, and Mickey had 4 points in seven minutes.
Now, though, the Celtics are fully healthy, putting playing time at a premium for Hunter. The sharpshooter had played a total of just nine minutes over the Celtics' last nine games.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he was unsure if Hunter would remain with the Red Claws throughout the Celtics' three-game road trip.
"It's all dependent on how our team looks after every game and how they do, but none of those decisions are finite by any means," Stevens said. "As was well-documented when James [Young] was in San Antonio, sometimes we make them on the fly."
In early December, the Celtics optioned Young to the Red Claws in the midst of a road trip. But while he was waiting at the airport in San Antonio, the Celtics had a last-minute change of heart before Young boarded his flight, and he returned to the team.
The Celtics once again veered toward small-ball lineups in their win against the Suns Friday, and Stevens said he will continue to look for opportunities to use those groups.
"I think the one thing is whether it's Isaiah [Thomas], Marcus, Avery [Bradley], Jae [Crowder] or whether it's Isaiah, Marcus, Evan, Jae, whatever the mix of guys are there, the biggest thing is that that group does have some positional versatility defensively, and is able to space the floor with some good quickness offensively," Stevens said. "So I think that's something we might certainly do more and more of if again, knock on wood health allows, and the appropriate opportunities present themselves."
While the Celtics are finally healthy, the Wizards certainly are not. Saturday night, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kris Humphries, Drew Gooden, and Alan Anderson all sat out because of injuries.
Beal is now mostly healthy after missing 16 games with a leg injury, but he is on a minutes restriction. He sat out Saturday to rest.
Beal scored 22 points in just 22 minutes in a win over the Pacers on Friday.