Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Nelson Back in Orlando

Photo: Getty Images

The Boston Celtics are taking on the Magic for the second time in less than week. The C's won last Wednesday night 109-92 at the TD Garden, which turned out to be Rajon Rondo's final game as a Celtic. The former captain was traded the following day to the Dallas Mavericks for Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder and Jameer Nelson.

Nelson played in Orlando for 10 years before he got amnestied last summer for salary-cap reasons and became a free-agent. The veteran guard who averaged 12.6 points, 5.4 assists and was a all-star in 2009 (the same year the team reached the NBA Finals), will make his return to a place he called home for the first time this season.

Once Nelson signed with Dallas in July, he was expected to lead a high-offense Mavs team through the west and possibly to another Finals appearance. In 23 games (all starts), his average dipped to 7.3 points, and 4.1 assists before he was dealt to Boston.

"I'm a leader no matter what, no matter what team I'm on, who's on the floor, or who's in the locker room," Nelson said. "I take the challenge. I'm not a guy who runs away from adversity." [Celtics.com]

In his Celtics debut on Sunday against the Miami Heat, Nelson scored three points, handed out three assists and turned the ball over twice in 20 minutes off the bench. Boston loss 100-84 and got their three-game winning streak snapped in the process.

Nelson more than likely will replace Rondo in the starting lineup, as rookie Marcus Smart is still recovering from a high-ankle sprain and an achilles injury, despite making his first start of his professional career two nights ago.

The former Maverick guard, who's been pretty vocal in the locker room since his arrival on Friday, believes Brad Stevens' system is similar to that of his former and Detroit Pistons' current head coach, Stan Van Gundy's (lead the Magic from 2007-2012).

"Basically, you've got to come here with a clear mind and become brainwashed quickly," Nelson said. "It's a great group of guys here and the organization is one of the best. I've come here and been welcomed pretty warmly." [ESPN Boston]

Nelson's homecoming came sooner rather than later, as he was not set to return to Orlando until January 31, when the Magic were to host the Mavericks. As of five days ago that all changed after being acquired by the Celtics in the biggest swap of the 2014-15 season thus far.

Boston, 10-15, look to get their second win over the Magic (10-20) in less than seven days. Tip-off is at 7:30 from the Amway Center.

Joel Pavón

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