Stevens: Physicality expected, but important not to cross line


Stevens: Physicality expected, but important not to cross line

BOSTON - If you caught any of Game 3 between the Celtics and Hawks, you undoubtedly saw some pushing and shoving going on.

You may have also caught a flagrant foul or two . . . or three.

It's to be expected that with the stakes so high, emotions will run high. That's what's been going on between the C's and Hawks and it can be expected to last throughout the series.

But the Celtics dodged a bullet when it was announced that Isaiah Thomas wouldn't be suspended for Game 4 after footage of him came out making contact with Hawks guard Dennis Schroder with a bit of a swinging motion. That's not to say Thomas should have been suspended for it, but you just never know these days in the NBA.

The C's want to remain physical and emotional, but Brad Stevens has made it clear with his team that they can only go so far.

“Yeah. I think we talk about, all the time about not wanting to cross that line," Stevens said. "And at the same time it’s going to be physical and competitive because you watch every playoff series, that’s what they are. You’re playing a team for the fifth time in two weeks. They’re used to us, we’re used to them. It’s prideful people on both sides of the floor, really good players. There’s gonna be some of that. But obviously you don’t want it to cross the line. That’s something that certainly we’ve addressed. And we’re not going to spend a ton of time on it, and I’m sure they aren’t either. We’ve got to focus on what we can do to play well.”

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer addressed the physicality in the series, specifically the incident with Thomas.

"The playoffs, always, there’s an edge and there’s a competitiveness that comes with it, so I think all that’s to be expected," Budenholzer said. "The NBA always does a thorough job. Their job is not easy and they cannot make everybody happy, and we also have a ton of respect for their process, their work and their integrity. We can all see things differently and we’re ready to move forward."

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.”