BOSTON – As you make your way through the Celtics locker room and then peak your head inside the Phoenix Suns’ locker room, it becomes pretty apparent that these early starts aren’t exactly embraced by the players.
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And then there’s Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who is downright giddy (by Stevens’ standards at least) about getting the day started with a game to be played.
“I love day games,” Stevens said. “Kids get to come. They get to enjoy the game, don’t have to worry about them waking up tired for school. I like day games.”
And by the sound of silence following his words, Stevens realized, “more than everybody else.”
NO HERO BALL FOR IRVING
Brad Stevens had a good feel for what the Celtics could expect from Kyrie Irving on the floor. But his engagement with his teammates and the organization, that was a different story. So far, Irving has been everything the Celtics were hoping for when they traded for him during the offseason.
“Very engaged in everyone; treats everyone the same, from coaching staff to young players, to support staff,” Stevens said. “Has a good energy about him … has been a great teammate in every way.
Stevens added, “That’s important when heading into a new situation, with all eyes on you. People expect you to be in a leadership role but there are different ways to approach that. I think he’s done that by really embracing everybody, trying to just be himself but be very approachable by everybody. He has been very good.”
MORRIS' MINUTES ON THE RISE?
Marcus Morris comes into today’s game having played a season-high 28 minutes in Boston’s 108-97 win against Philadelphia on Thursday. Stevens said the 6-foot-9 forward is inching closer towards having his minutes restriction lifted altogether.
“Marcus is now at the 25-30 [minute] mark,” said Stevens who does not have a specific timetable for the minutes restrictions to end but added that it will be most likely ending soon.
Morris has developed into an important offensive weapon for the Celtics, particularly when he’s coming off the bench.
The seventh-year veteran has scored in double figures three of the last four games he has played in, averaging 13.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 35.7 percent from 3-point range.
The last time the Celtics faced the Phoenix Suns at the TD Garden, Devin Booker had a game for the ages, dropping a career-high 70 points on Boston.
Most of the players from last season are gone now, but there’s no way anyone can completely forget about Booker becoming just the sixth different player in NBA history to score 70 or more points in a game.
“It was a unique game,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens whose team still came away with a 130-120 win. “WE put him on the foul line the whole game; he scored in transition and then he really got going late. He’s a heck of a player.”
The lesson learned?
“We have to do a much better job on him,” Stevens said.