Celtics

Brad Stevens tells Celtics why it's more important to play like an All-Star than to be one

Brad Stevens tells Celtics why it's more important to play like an All-Star than to be one

The NBA All-Star Game is on the horizon, and it's apparent that some players leading the voting don't deserve to. Case and point, Boston Celtics fan-favorite Tacko Fall is sixth in the Eastern Conference in frontcourt votes. But his teammates aren't getting the love they deserve.

Among guards in the Eastern Conference, Kemba Walker is third in votes while Jaylen Brown is in seventh. And in the frontcourt, Jayson Tatum is in fifth place with Gordon Hayward in eighth. 

Although they may not be leading the way in voting, Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens stressed the importance of his players playing at a high level every game, not just in lieu of the All-Star Game voting. 

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“There’s always more deserving guys,” Stevens said Monday. “My message to all of our guys is it’s a lot more important to be playing like an All-Star than to be named one. That’s the bottom line. Anything subjective is what it is, you know? So just do your best.”

The All-Star Game in every sport is just a bunch of hoopla, so it's important for the Celtics to think about what Stevens said ahead of Monday's matchup with the Chicago Bulls at TD Garden.

Even if Boston players don't receive a majority of the votes, they should be focusing on what really matters -- the remainder of the season and gearing up for the playoffs in the coming months. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Pistons-Celtics, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike and Tommy have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Marcus Smart, Celtics fire back at Jazz fans who booed Gordon Hayward

Marcus Smart, Celtics fire back at Jazz fans who booed Gordon Hayward

Utah Jazz fans are still salty over Gordon Hayward's 2017 departure.

And Hayward's Boston Celtics teammates aren't above rubbing salt in their wounds.

Jazz fans heartily booed Hayward on Wednesday night in his second trip back to Vivint Smart Home Arena since leaving Utah to sign with the Celtics in 2017.

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But Boston got the last laugh in a 114-103 victory, and after the game, several C's players said those boos motivated them to win on Hayward's behalf.

"It was huge. Gordon has worked his tail off,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart told reporters, as aired on NBC Sports Boston. “It always feels good to come back where you started and to hear that crowd booing and to come out and win."

"They can't say anything."

Added Jayson Tatum, who led all scorers with 33 points, "I’m happy we got this win for G."

Celtics big man Enes Kanter, who was drafted by the Jazz and spent three-plus seasons as Hayward's teammate from 2011 to 2015, had a bit more to say for Utah fans heckling his teammate.

"One thing about Gordon, before he’s a good basketball player, he’s a really good teammate," Kanter said. "So it’s just a little silly that he gets all the boos still. I don’t think it’s hate anymore. It’s just, they’re just enjoying it."

Hayward was the Jazz's franchise player before signing a maximum contract with Boston, so he'll likely still hear boos every time he returns to Utah.

The 29-year-old had a relatively quiet homecoming --12 points on 4-of-12 shooting -- and didn't speak to reporters after the game, but his Celtics teammates did the talking for him, both on and off the court.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Rockets-Celtics, which begins Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

Celtics-Jazz Takeaways: Tatum gets his again, but C's spread it around

Celtics-Jazz Takeaways: Tatum gets his again, but C's spread it around

Kemba Walker missing games this season has drawn more attention to his Boston Celtics teammate Jayson Tatum. 

When that happens, it puts a greater premium on those around Tatum to elevate their play and make teams pay for focusing on the All-Star. 

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Tatum, who had 33 points in the C's 114-103 win over Utah, is on the kind of scoring binge that has set him apart not just from his teammates, but from most of the top players in the NBA. 

His play set the tone for Boston’s strong start against Utah, but the Jazz got back into the game and made it a back-and-forth tussle for most the final three quarters. 

The Celtics began to separate themselves in the fourth, getting solid contributions from bench players at both ends of the floor to pull away for another win - their 11th in their past 13. 

Here are a few takeaways from a solid win that closes a strong 3-1 trip west:

WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR C'S? A LOT

Jaylen Brown was one of the most outspoken Celtics when it came to talking about the need for players to do a better job of supporting Tatum when he has it going offensively. 

Brown was more than up to the challenge, finishing with 20 points, including 10 points in a third quarter that ended with the Celtics clinging to a three-point lead. 

The Celtics have the kind of roster where the offensive pecking order will fluctuate from game-to-game. Still, Brown has consistently shown he's the kind of player who makes the most of an increased opportunity and Wednesday was no exception. 

Indeed, it has worked out well for Boston this season and will need to continue to be part of who they are going forward. 

PLAYING (MARCUS) SMART DOWN THE STRETCH

Marcus Smart makes shots in the fourth quarter. Marcus Smart makes shots in the fourth quarter. It’s worth repeating because, for some reason, Celtics opponents consistently leave him wide open. 

And to Smart’s credit, he continues to make the opposition pay when it matters most. 

Smart had 17 points, nine in the fourth quarter. He also led the Celtics with nine assists.

Knocking down shots in the fourth is something that Smart does consistently. Now, those shots are coming with even less resistance because of the added attention being paid to Tatum. 

INSIDE JOB BY BOSTON

Much is made of Boston’s lack of bigs, and yet they continue to do what teams with size do: generate points in the paint. 

Boston won the paint battle against Utah, outscoring the Jazz 56-46 in the paint in addition to out-rebounding them, 44-41. 

The Celtics have consistently mixed up their inside scoring coming from drives and post-ups, a good mix that has kept defenses off balance and in many instances, incapable of slowing them down. 

Having multiple guys who can finish at the rim while creating their own shot, poses a great challenge to most defenses. 

And maybe most important, it has given the Celtics exactly what they are seeking every night: a win. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Rockets-Celtics, which begins Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.