Atlantic Notes: Bird, Nogueira, Raptors, Sixers

After barely playing for the Celtics this season, two-way player Jabari Bird has averaged 22.8 MPG in Boston’s last two games, posting 12.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 2.5 APG while shooting 11-of-15 from the field. Despite his solid play lately, Bird won’t be postseason-eligible for the Celtics unless the team converts his two-way contract into a standard deal. And to do that, the C’s would have to waive one of their 15 players with guaranteed contracts.

There are no obvious expendable pieces on the Celtics’ roster, so the idea of Bird joining the team for the postseason may be a long shot. For his part, the rookie tells A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston that he’s focused on playing hard during the regular season and “trying to control what I can control.” Brad Stevens also deferred on the topic of Bird becoming playoff-eligible, but had praise for the youngster.

“Those aren’t my discussions or my job,” the Celtics head coach said of Bird’s contract situation. “But at the end of the day, I think he is playing well. He’s doing some good things. I thought offensively he was pretty good, especially early. He’s done a good job in the last couple of games and will probably play some of the next two.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Raptors center Lucas Nogueira will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer, but a qualifying offer “seems unlikely,” writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. That’s probably a reflection of Toronto’s cap situation and depth chart rather than an indication of how much the team likes Nogueira. He falls behind Jonas Valanciunas and Jakob Poeltl at center for the Raptors, who also sometimes use Serge Ibaka at the five.
  • Much has been made of the Raptors‘ “culture reset” within the last year, but what exactly did that culture reset consist of? Josh Lewenberg of attempts to pull back the curtain, writing that the culture change in Toronto isn’t just about the club’s reworked offense. “The culture change is about the whole organization. It’s not about offense and defense,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “Believe me, when [president Masai Ujiri] mentioned that, it was about all of us. Everything we do. From scouting, training, how we go about our day in the front office, it’s included in that.”
  • The Sixers are the NBA’s hottest team right now, but there are still questions about how the club will look in the playoffs. Sarah Todd of explores the potential postseason roles for Markelle Fultz and T.J. McConnell, while David Murphy of wonders how much responsibility – and how many minutes – Ben Simmons will be asked to handle.
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