Celtics in London: Stevens warns not to get excited about Hayward's return


Celtics in London: Stevens warns not to get excited about Hayward's return

LONDON -- The image posted by Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge of Gordon Hayward without an ankle brace renewed the optimism that Hayward will beat the odds and return to the floor in time for the playoffs and maybe even some late regular-season games. 
But coach Brad Stevens was quick to caution folks to pump the breaks when it comes to Hayward’s return.
Stevens said the photo shouldn't be a surprise, because Hayward was always scheduled to get out of his brace sometime this week. 
“This is exactly what they thought the timeline would be like, just being out of a brace,” Stevens said. “There’s a long way to go.”
Stevens added: "[All] the way from the surgery to the rehab and everything else, it’s been great. That said, he hasn’t done anything on the court. So, there’s so many boxes still to check. It’s great that he’s making good strides, but the timelines and those things don’t change.”
Hayward landed awkwardly on a lob pass in Boston’s season opener against Cleveland, resulting in a dislocated left ankle that was believed to be season-ending. Boston received an $8.4 million disabled player exception for Hayward’s injury. Among the factors needed to qualify for a DPE was an independent doctor's determination that it was “unlikely” Hayward would return to playing prior to June 15. 


The new All-Star format will have the player with the most votes in each conference serve as captains. Those captains will then select their team, regardless of conference affiliations, from among the players voted as starters and reserves. 
So Kyrie Irving was asked if he were a captain, who would his first pick be? 
“That’s a set-up [question],” Irving said. “That’s a set-up.”
And with that, Irving Euro-stepped his way around that question. 


The surroundings are different and the amount of time to practice has changed, but Brad Stevens is going to stay true to who Brad Stevens is. 
When asked about what he has done thus far in London, he replied, “Personal time? Nothing. I’ve done nothing other than go out and eat with the team the other night.” 
But he was planning to change that on Wednesday afternoon. 
“I’ll try to walk around a little bit today, I think,” Stevens said.


Tomorrow’s game might prove to be a huge boost for some of the players on each respective team when it comes to All-Star voting. Irving and Al Horford could potentially see a European bump. The same can be said for Sixers big man Joel Embiid. 
“That would be great,” Embiid said. “Every time I play I feel like, this is a business, I want to win, I’m a winner, I’m competitive. But at the same time, this is also for the fans. I want to have fun. I always do have fun on the court. And I play better when I have fun.”


Thursday’s game features two of the NBA’s top rookies in Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons. 
“I think he’s been consistent; solid,” Simmons said when asked about Tatum. 
While the respect is there, Simmons makes no secret about who he thinks is better.
“I know I’m the best rookie in the league,” Simmons said. 


There’s classic architecture, buildings and structures that have stood the test of time for centuries. There’s quite a bit of beauty in London.

And Joel Embiid acknowledges that he has taken in some of the sights in London, but not the ones you might be thinking. 
“You see a lot of beautiful women,” Embiid said. “I don’t know. Last time I was here it was quite a sight to see. I love beautiful women. That’s what’s exciting about London.” 



 There was a notable face not among the Sixers when they took to the floor for practice on Wednesday. Former Celtic Amir Johnson was nowhere to be found. A team official said Johnson was under the weather and stayed back at the team hotel. His status for Thursday’s game remains uncertain.



How to watch/stream Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics, Game 5

How to watch/stream Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics, Game 5

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch Game 5 of the opening round of the NBA playoffs, as the Celtics host the Bucks at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: C's: Game 5 will come down to 'who wants it more'

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Celtics: Game 5 will come down to 'who wants it more'

Celtics: Game 5 will come down to 'who wants it more'

BOSTON -- We are at that point in this Boston-Milwaukee playoff series where X’s and O’s have little value. 

There’s very little either team can do at this point that would come as a complete shock to the other, and make sense at the same time. 

“It’s nothing new anymore,” said Jayson Tatum. “We’ve played them four games in a row. We know what we are going to do, they know what we are going to do.”


So what’s left?

“It’s just effort,” Tatum said. “Who wants it more.”

So far in this series, desire to win has been directly tied with the game’s location. 

Boston won an overtime nail-biter in Game 1 at the TD Garden and followed that up with another win in Game 2. The Bucks returned home and delivered a decisive Game 3 beatdown, then survived a late Celtics surge in Game 4 to hold on for a two-point win that included some late-game controversy

“The biggest thing that you learn as you go further into this is transition matters so much more; and rebounding matters so much more,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “Making the right reads on offense matters so much more and those are the things that are somewhat within your control.”

And control is exactly what’s at stake tonight for both teams, knowing the loser will be in the first true must-win scenario when these two square off again in Milwaukee for Game 6. 

The significance of tonight is not lost on any of the Celtics players.

“Got to protect home court,” said Jaylen Brown. “Got to protect our house. They felt comfortable the last two games until those last few quarters, and that’s how we want to continue to play.”

Boston fell behind by 20 points (65-45) in the third quarter of Game 4, then steadily chipped away at the Bucks lead and eventually went ahead 100-99 with less than a minute to play on a jumper by Tatum. 

But Milwaukee eventually came away with the victory following a tip-in by Giannis Antetokounmpo with 5.1 seconds to play. 

Boston had one last chance to tie the game and force overtime, but Marcus Morris’ fadeaway jumper was off the mark as the final horn sounded. 

The Celtics had practice on Monday and watched some video. But at this point, there’s very little they will do or see that will dramatically change their outlook and approach to tonight’s game other than the prospect of Marcus Smart (right thumb) suiting up tonight. That seemed a long shot until late Monday afternoon when the Celtics listed him as “questionable” for the game, the first time since his right thumb was surgically repaired last month that he hasn't been ruled out.


Regardless of who steps on the floor, the Celtics know at this point there are no secrets among these two teams.

“It becomes a game of inches now,” Brown said. “We played this team what, three or four times in the regular season, now it’s game five of the playoffs. We both know. Through the film, like we both know what each team wants to do and get out of it. Now it’s just who is going to come out on top.”