Celtics notebook: Rising early to greet the Suns


Celtics notebook: Rising early to greet the Suns

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.


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.”

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.”

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.


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.”