Stars, studs and duds: Garnett’s presence remains alive in Celtics locker room

Stars, studs and duds: Garnett’s presence remains alive in Celtics locker room

CHICAGO – Even though he hasn’t played a minute for the Boston Celtics in four years, Kevin Garnett’s presence remains alive and well in the Boston Celtics’ locker room.
A taped message left by Garnett with a Celtics staff member to share with some of the players, was soon passed along to the entire team.
And it would serve as one of the many motivations Boston had heading into a must-win Game 3 matchup that ended with the Celtics pulling away for a 104-87 victory.


The Celtics now trail the best-of-seven 2-1 with Game 4 at the United Center on Sunday.
As much as the talk after the game centered around Boston getting its first win in the series, Garnett’s message which had a few – OK, more than a few – expletives in was viewed as one of the keys to Boston getting a much-needed win.
“To me personally, it was everything,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “It was just a little motivational speech. We looked like a team that wasn’t having fun; a team that was sulking in the moment. Just have to play for one another, play for the moment … and have fun with it. That’s what he was saying, with a little more KG into it.”
The message hit home in a big way for the Celtics, as player after player talked about how “pumped” up Garnett’s words made them feel before the game.
“Oh man, that was exciting,” said Boston’s Terry Rozier. “That got the whole team pumped. That was great hearing from a legend that played for this organization, been through it all, got to the Finals, won the Finals. Just to hear that inspiration from him was good, especially going into an important game like this.”
It showed in the early moments as Boston raced out to a 14-4 lead to start the game, and led by as many as 20 points in the first half.
Avery Bradley is the only Celtic on the roster who played with Garnett when he was in Boston, so the message really hit home with him.
“It almost felt like he was in the locker room with me again,” Bradley said. “It was a good feeling.”
 I asked Bradley did the message have any curse words.
“Of course,” said Bradley, grinning. “Of course; same KG but it got us going.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Game 3 between Boston and Chicago.

Al Horford

The stat line for Horford doesn’t look all that different than other games we’ve seen from him, but make no mistake about it. This was Horford’s best game as a Celtic, not only because of his numbers but because of his overall impact at both ends of the floor in what was an absolute must-win matchup if Boston were to have any shot at rallying back in this series. He finished with 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting with eight rebounds, six assists, four steals and a blocked shot.
Dwyane Wade

The Bulls were searching for a spark all game, and Wade came as close as anyone to providing what they needed. He led the Bulls with 18 points but did so on a not-so-efficient 6-for-18 shooting.

Avery Bradley

This was easily Bradley’s most complete game in the postseason thus far. He had 15 points on 5-for-10 shooting with seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals all the while playing a key role as one of the many defenders Boston used to limit the scoring of Chicago’s Jimmy Butler.
Terry Rozier

After an up and down regular season, Rozier was very much a difference-maker for the Celtics off the bench in Game 3. He led Boston’s second unit scoring with 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting with three rebounds and a steal. And just as significant, Boston was a +19 in the 23 minutes, 18 seconds he played.
Robin Lopez

He wasn’t as dominant in Game 3 as we saw in Games 1 and 2, but Lopez was nonetheless effective when he was on the floor. He finished with 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting with six rebounds.

Jimmy Butler

At no point did it seem Butler was going to lead the Bulls back into the game. Boston’s perimeter defenders absolutely dogged him all game, limiting the usually high-scoring Butler to just 14 points on 14-for-21 shooting. The most telling stat about his game? The Bulls were a minus-27 when he was on the floor.

Marcus Morris leads Celtics to comeback victory over Trail Blazers, 105-100

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Marcus Morris leads Celtics to comeback victory over Trail Blazers, 105-100

In the first quarter, the Boston Celtics had one of those “not again!” moments when Marcus Morris, with a noticeable limp, headed to the Celtics locker room with a member of the training staff. 

Even though it didn’t seem like that big a deal, Celtics fans have seen this scene before and more often than not – at least this season – it hasn’t ended well for Boston. 

Fortunately for Boston, Morris went back to get his right ankle re-taped, returned to the floor and started to do Marcus Morris-like things like, you know, hit late-game daggers. 

Morris, whose 3-pointer lifted Boston to an improbable win earlier this week over Oklahoma City, was once again coming through in the clutch as Boston swept the season series against Portland with a 105-100 win. 

“I’m just being aggressive and … shots are going down for me,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin after the win.

Boston’s execution in the closing seconds was huge for the Celtics, but it was Morris’ 3-pointer with less than a minute to play that gave the Celtics a 101-96 lead that would later serve as the game-winning shot, his second in as many games. 

Morris also led all players with 30 points, with Terry Rozier (16 points) and Jayson Tatum (13 points) also coming up big for Boston. 

The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum who each had 26 points.

Morris’ big game came hours after the Celtics learned that leading scorer Kyrie Irving was going to have a “minimally invasive” procedure performed on Saturday, which meant the Celtics would have to continue searching for a go-to scorer in Irving’s absence.

That player appears to be Morris who led the Celtics to yet another unlikely win against one of the better teams in the NBA. 

Morris’ late-game heroics began earlier in the fourth when he hit a top-of-the-key 3-pointer that put Boston up 85-84 with 6:26 to play. 

But the Blazers responded with a 7-2 run with all seven points scored by McCollum to put Portland back on top 91-87.

Boston came back with four straight points to tie the game at 91, with all four points being scored by Al Horford only for Lillard, following an offensive rebound by Al-Farouq Aminu, hit a go-ahead 3-pointer.

But back came Boston, scoring five straight that included a pair of go-ahead free throws by Rozier with 2:07 to play.


Irving's procedure means Celtics may add player via 'hardship roster exception'

Irving's procedure means Celtics may add player via 'hardship roster exception'

With Kyrie Irving undergoing a “minimally invasive procedure” on Saturday, the Boston Celtics may look to add a player via the “hardship roster exception” that only teams that are significantly impacted by injuries, are eligible for. 

MORE - Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

The Celtics won’t have a clear sense of what the timetable will be for Irving’s return until after his procedure is performed. 

But it’s likely to be at least a couple weeks which at the earliest would put Irving’s return just before the playoffs. 

In order to qualify for the NBA’s hardship roster exception, at least four players must miss a minimum of three consecutive games, and later be deemed to be out for an additional two weeks. 

Gordon Hayward (dislocated left ankle) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus, left knee) are out for the season, and Marcus Smart (right thumb) recently underwent surgery that will keep him sidelined for at least another five weeks. 

An independent doctor will determine if the extent of the aforementioned injuries as well as the recovery time for Irving, meet the two-week criteria to be eligible for the hardship roster exception. 

Once that’s determined, Boston will be given a hardship roster exception to use on a player for the remainder of the regular season but won’t be eligible for the postseason. 

If Boston does add a player, look for him to come from the Gatorade League, possibly their G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. 

Boston has a collection of guards who have helped fill the void left by Irving’s absence, but Boston has not been able to address the loss of Daniel Theis. 

Keep an eye on former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 16.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Red Claws this season. 

MORE - Hayward gives update on rehab

Boston has a 45-day cap on the use of its two-way players with the parent team, but that limitation ends tomorrow which means guard/forward Jabari Bird and guard Kadeem Allen can earn the league minimum for every day they are with the Celtics going forward in the regular season. That can provide some depth to a Celtics team that because of injuries, can use every healthy body they can find.