Celtics Rookie Earning His Keep In Brad Stevens’ Rotation

Getty Images Michael Porter Jr. of the Nuggets and Aaron Nesmith of the Celtics battle for a rebound during the first quarter at TD Garden

Boston Celtics rookie Aaron Nesmith is gradually making headway as the young prospect lent a hand in Tuesday’s 112-99 win over the Denver Nuggets.

Fending off speculation that head coach Brad Stevens and the Celtics are on the verge of bottoming out, Boston embarked on its mission to right the ship. And, according to Brad Stevens, Nesmith played a big part in that.

“He’s obviously becoming more comfortable with the speed of the game on the offensive end,” Stevens said after Tuesday night’s win. “I think that was probably the biggest transition for him and he’s handled that well. Credit to him; he just kept working, right? So, when a guy gets that opportunity, you want to see him succeed. And, that’s two good games in a row. I thought he was one of our bright spots in Washington — one of a very few.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of build-off there with what we did. I would say that he’s on a good two-game streak, we’ll see.”

Aaron Nesmith: ‘It Feels Good’

Nesmith, coming off of a healthy-DNP against the Detriot Pistons and a two-minute stint against the Toronto Raptors, found his footing playing 20+ minutes in each of his last two outings.

“It feels good,” Nesmith said Tuesday night. “To be able to go out there and play and participate towards winning games and try to making winning-plays, making the most of the opportunities that I’m given.”

Nesmith made one of those winning plays and it didn’t take long after checking into the game. Nuggets’ RJ Hampton was on the receiving end of a big block from the rookie, who later dove for loose balls on one end while draining 3-pointers on the other.

Brad Stevens: ‘We Rewards Guys For Running More’

He led the Celtics’ second unit with 9 points on 2-of-4 attempts, including a pair of threes in 24 minutes.

“I thought we would play well; you never know if that’s going to be enough. That’s a good team,” Stevens explained. “I thought we handled their runs well and stayed the course throughout the whole game. The ball moved right out of the gate and even though we weren’t making shots the first couple of minutes, the ball was popping around the way that it hasn’t been.

“We rewarded guys for running more than we have in the past few weeks and we’ve rewarded guys for cutting more than we have in the last few weeks — that’s a huge part of team-ness, making the right play, and all that other stuff. I was encouraged by that.”

Brad Stevens On Celtics Upcoming Schedule: ‘These Games Are Coming In A Flurry’

But, now is not the time to dwell on Tuesday’s hard-fought win.

Stevens is well aware that this current back-to-back set is just the very beginning of one of the most grueling stretches — seven games in ten days — of the regular season.

“You know, these games are coming in a flurry,” Stevens said. “This stretch is incredible. So, we don’t have enough time to think about what just happened. We have to just turn our attention and do it again tomorrow night.”

The Celtics are hosting the Atlanta Hawks, Wednesday night at TD Garden.

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