Celtics-Bucks preview: C's control their own destiny

Celtics-Bucks preview: C's control their own destiny

BOSTON – With only one game left in the regular season, it’s hard for the Boston Celtics to not look ahead to the playoffs.
Focusing on the present which includes a regular season finale at home against Milwaukee tonight, while being acutely aware of the future which may include them being the top seed in the East, makes this game as much of a mental challenge as a physical one for Boston.
“It’s hard,” acknowledged Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “But you have to focus on what we can control.”


And right now, the Celtics (52-29) control their own destiny when it comes to being the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
If they beat the Bucks tonight, they finish with the best record in the East and with it, they will have home court advantage for as long as they stay in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
For Milwaukee (42-39) which has won two straight, they have incentive tonight to play well.
The Bucks are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference, with no hope of moving up to the fifth spot after Atlanta’s win over Charlotte. And a loss could potentially drop them to the No. 7 spot where they start off on the road at either Cleveland or Boston.
And on Tuesday, Stevens reiterated that the team had no plans on resting any of his players after so many of them missed significant time during the season dealing with lots of injuries and illnesses.
“We feel like from the standpoint of rest and freshness, we’re in a pretty good shape,” Stevens said. “When you look at it from a total minutes and minutes per game standpoint, total number of games, we tried our best to manage those things appropriately all year. And we got the silver lining of injuries. We should be ready to go.”
Boston’s defense has picked up its play lately, and that has a lot to do with Avery Bradley’s return.
The 6-foot-3 guard is showing off the skills that have made him one of the best two-way talents in the NBA.
And while his offense has certainly been solid, Bradley’s true impact on the game will come with his defense.
“It’s been really good the last five quarters,” Stevens said of the team’s defense. “It seems Avery got his burst back. Obviously, the more that your guys can play together the better. The other good thing is we’ve gotten a lot of good contributions from a lot of people. Your opportunity will dictate some of the matchups. it may be someone that hasn’t played a whole lot this year who may need to be impactful for us.”


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.”