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Only an injury could slow down Abdel Nader

Abdel Nader, a second-round pick by the Celtics, has been playing in the D-League.AP file

Maine Red Claws coach Scott Morrison said Celtics draft pick Abdel Nader, who has been sidelined since injuring his left shoulder Nov. 22, is likely to return for the team’s two-game homestand this weekend.

Nader suffered the injury when he drove to the basket, collided with an opponent, and fell to the floor during Maine’s game against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Morrison said it was a contusion, and there was no ligament or tendon damage.

Nader was not considered a likely draft pick last June after a solid but unspectacular career at Iowa State, but the Celtics selected him (second round, 58th overall) after he agreed to sign with the Red Claws.


Then he was a revelation during summer league play. In Las Vegas, he was third on the team in scoring, behind Celtics regulars Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown.

And Nader has continued to shine in Maine. In the five games prior to his injury, he was averaging 27.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. He has made 52.6 percent of his field goal attempts and 45.2 percent of his 3-point tries.

“I think he’s basically played the way I expected him to,” Morrison said by phone Wednesday. “I knew he’d be tough going to the basket.

“He’s a matchup problem in this league. He’s either going to be a little more athletic than his matchup if he’s playing [power forward] or a little bigger and stronger if he’s playing [small forward]. We’ve been able to exploit him and give him opportunities to score.”

While Nader’s offensive skills are obvious, Morrison said he is working diligently to improve his defense.

“Probably the biggest thing is just defending the ball, closing out, keeping his man in front and not allowing drives to the rim,” Morrison said. “And then just being more vocal in terms of communication when he’s off the ball.


“Coach [Brad] Stevens impressed on us that what’s going to be an important thing for him to try to get in the rotation next year is the defensive side of the ball, which is no surprise based on the other guys in Boston. So we focus on it.”

Morrison said that during summer league play, Nader sometimes took an all-or-nothing approach when he attacked the basket on offense. So they are teaching him that there are other options when the defense takes away his ability to score.

It has been a work in progress, as Nader had eight assists in one game and eight turnovers in another.

“He’s had times where he’s made last-second reads to our big man, or for corner threes, and I’ve been very encouraged by those games,” Morrison said. “I think if he can do that, he’s going to be really tough off the dribble.”

Pistons at a glance

■  When, where: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., at TD Garden.

■  TV, radio: CSN, WBZ-FM (98.5).

■  Scoring: Tobias Harris 16.4, Andre Drummond 14.6, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 14.1.

■  Rebounding: Drummond 13.4, Jon Leuer 6.8, Harris 4.6.

■  Assists: Ish Smith 6.2, Beno Udrih 3.4, Caldwell-Pope 2.7.

■  Head to head: This is the second of four meetings. The Celtics won the first, 94-92, on Nov. 19.

■  Miscellany: Drummond is second in the league in rebounding . . . The Pistons are 2-5 in their last seven . . . Reggie Jackson has missed the entire season after undergoing procedures on his left knee and right thumb in early October; he is aiming for a December return.


Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.