Avery Bradley, Al Horford out vs. Suns

Avery Bradley, Al Horford out vs. Suns

The injury bug has once again found a victim in the Boston Celtics who will once again find themselves playing without key starters.

Boston will be without shooting guard Avery Bradley (hamstring soreness) and forward/center Al Horford (elbow) for tonight’s game against the Phoenix Suns.

Bradley, who had missed 18 games earlier this season with an Achilles injury, returns to the injured list after having played well in Boston’s last three games.

“We felt it would be best for him to rest another 36 hours,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “And Al sprained his elbow in the Lakers game, so neither of those guys is available.”

Said Bradley: “I don’t really feel sore. I just think … I wasn’t going to play both games on a back-to-back anyway. It was going to be one of these games I was going to be out. This was probably the better choice for me to come back.”

The Celtics will play at the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night, the final game for ex-Celtic Paul Pierce against his former team.

Listening to Bradley talk, it sounds as though the team’s medical staff is keeping him on the bench despite him feeling good enough to play. As a competitor, Bradley acknowledges those conversations have not been easy for him to accept, but understands their purpose.

“It’s beyond frustrating,” Bradley told reporters. “But I guess I have to just trust them and be ready for the next game. I’ve have like five of my teammates ask me if I’m OK. But I’m fine. I’m excited about the game tomorrow, I know that.”

Stevens said rookie Jaylen Brown and Jonas Jerebko would be in tonight’s starting lineup along with Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson.

Horford’s injury occurred when he went up to block a shot against the Lakers, Stevens said.

“They (medical staff) don’t feel like it’s a long, long-term issue,” Stevens said of Horford's injury. “But he’s better today, a little better range of motion, feels stronger from the test they gave him but not ready to play yet.”

The timing of the injuries come when the Celtics seemed completely healthy, something that has been a rarity this season. 

“That part is a little frustrating,” Horford told reporters. “Things like this happen unexpectedly. I just hope to get better soon as possible.”

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

1:13 - The Celtics came away with a 105-100 win in Portland on Friday night. Find out why Chris Mannix is calling this the best Celtics win of the season.

6:05 - Mannix discusses details about Kyrie Irving’s ‘minimally invasive’ procedure on his knee and what his level of concern is with A. Sherrod Blakely and Gary Tanguay.

10:03 - Michael Holley and Tom Curran discuss what NFL players, including Devin McCourty, are doing beyond the gridiron by being active in criminal justice reform discussions held at Harvard this week.



Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

When you think about Marcus Morris these days, big-time scoring immediately comes to mind. 

But in Boston’s 105-100 comeback win over Portland, Morris’ contributions went beyond the game-high 30 points he dropped on the Blazers.

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“Coach (Brad Stevens) is doing a great job of getting me the ball in my spots and my teammates are finding me,” Morris told reporters after the win. “And I’m just coming through.”

He’s providing strong play and a tremendous presence at both ends of the floor which has been critical to the team navigating some choppy waters with a number of regular rotation players – namely Kyrie Irving – out with injuries.

“One thing is, he’s healthy,” said Boston’s Al Horford, referring to the sore knee that limited Morris earlier this season and at times forced him to miss games. “And the other is, he’s just more confident, he’s playing very assertive. He’s playing great right now, in a really good rhythm.”

Said Stevens: “That’s been him (Morris). As he’s continued to feel better; I think physically he’s felt as good as he’s felt. He’s comfortable in our system and we need him to score. If you’re a basketball player and your job is to score, that’s a pretty good job.”

And it’s one that even with all the injuries Boston has played through, few envisioned him being such an integral part of the offense. 

Morris’ calling card prior to arriving in Boston was his defense. 

But Morris has made it known that his focus on the floor is to be as complete a player as possible.

“I’m not trying to just limit myself to just being that scorer,” Morris said. “Also, on the defensive end I think I’m bringing it; my defense has gotten a lot better, especially my on-the-ball defense. I’m trying to be that all-around player and not just an offensive player … but I can score.”