Celtics

Celtics bench the bright spot in a disappointing loss

my_post_11.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Photo

Celtics bench the bright spot in a disappointing loss

HOUSTON – Marcus Morris was knocking down shots all over the floor. Ditto for Terry Rozier and Greg Monroe.

Marcus Smart was having a decent night as well. 

It was just the kind of performance Boston needed from its bench in order to compete with a Houston Rockets team that came into Saturday’s game with the best record in the NBA. 

Even with the Celtics bench having their best scoring game of the season, it still wasn’t enough as the Rockets edged the Boston Celtics 123-120.

MORE CELTICS

Smart launched a desperation 3-point shot as the final horn sounded that grazed the rim as time expired. 

“When I released it, I thought it was (going in),” Smart said.

If it did, it wouldn’t have been a total shock considering how the game was playing out for Boston’s bench which tallied a season-high 67 points. 

“They were great,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens of his second unit players. “I didn’t think we were great out of the gates, but we were great off the bench and I thought obviously Terry (Rozier III) is playing at a high level. I thought (Marcus) Smart was great in the first half, and Greg Monroe played great, and I thought Marcus (Morris) obviously had another really good game. We’re going to need those guys and then some to continue to help us.” 

Leading the Celtics’ second unit scoring was Morris who had a team-high 21 points. In fact, three of Boston’s top four scorers on Saturday came off the bench.

“We’re just going out there and playing,” said Morris when asked about the improved play of the bench since returning from the All-Star break.

Said Rozier: “We know we can play. We’re here for a reason. A lot of people may have their doubts; there are a lot of things that weren’t going well throughout the season. But we’re the ones that have to play. We have to keep it going, finish out the season strong for our team.”

MORE CELTICS

Boston came into Saturday’s game averaging 53.5 bench points since the all-star break which ranks third in the NBA according to hoopsstats.com.

Prior to the All-Star break, Boston’s 32.1 bench points per game ranked 23rd in the NBA.

Their improved play comes at a time when the Celtics sense the need to start clicking in all phases of play, never knowing what will be needed in the postseason in order to win.

“The bench is really coming together at the right time,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “And that’s one of the encouraging things (following Saturday’s loss). Even though we didn’t win the game, I feel like we will all be better.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Anything is Podable podcast Episode 7: Bumpy playoff road through the East

Anything is Podable podcast Episode 7: Bumpy playoff road through the East

Episode 7 of NBC Sports Boston’s “Anything is Podable” podcast looks back at the playoff road the revitalized Celtics took to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1987. 

Boston breezed through the regular season winning 66 games, the third-most in team history. When the playoffs started, the road was not as easy. The Celtics found a surprisingly difficult test in the first round against a young Atlanta Hawks team.

"The crowd was like something I had never seen in Atlanta before," Paul Pierce said of the fans at Games 3 and 4 and 6 at Phillips Arena, where the Hawks beat the C's to force a Game 7 at TD Garden. 

Back at the Garden, order was restored, as it usually is for the Green at home in seventh games. "Game 7 was an absolute annihilation," said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. 

In the second round, the Cleveland Cavaliers and their young superstar, LeBron James, awaited. That also went seven. Pierce (41 points) and James (45) went toe-to-toe in one of the best Game 7 duels in NBA history. 

"That was one of the great games in the history of NBA basketball," said Ainge of the Celtics' 97-92 victory. 

When you've got a great player like LeBron anything can happen in a Game 7. He can be special and he was. Unfortunately for him, I was able to be special, too." 

The conference finals featured the changing of the guard in the East from the veteran Detroit Pistons. The Celtics overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to capture Game 6 on the road and head back to the Finals. 

Anything is Podable is a ten-part series diving into the story of the 2008 Celtics and their championship season, with exclusive, never-before-heard interviews with team executives, former players, and media members.

Narrated by Kyle Draper, it’s the perfect way for Celtics fans to pass time this offseason and get excited for 2018-19, a season in which the Celtics have as good a chance at raising their 18th championship banner as they’ve had since that magical 2008 season.

Fans can subscribe here or through the link below and check out the other nine episodes for a look at this exclusive series.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Morris says Ainge, Stevens encouraged him to seek help for anxiety and depression

Morris says Ainge, Stevens encouraged him to seek help for anxiety and depression

Marcus Morris opened up about his mental health issues and says the Celtics were instrumental in encouraging him to seek help.

In the first part of Jackie MacMullan's series on the mental health stigma in the NBA, Paul Piece detailed his battle with depression after being stabbed at a nightclub in 2000. On Tuesday, the second part of MacMullan's series was published and included some eye-opening anecdotes from Morris, who dealt with anxiety and depression issues of his own.

Morris discussed he and his brother Markieff Morris' (currently on Wizards) rough childhoods growing up in North Philadelphia, and how their childhoods led to mental health issues later on in life.

“Honestly, I didn't feel like I could trust anybody -- not even the people in my neighborhood, who I knew my whole life,” Morris told ESPN. “We just walked out stressed all the time. I said to my brother once, 'You know, this is no way to live.'"

After being traded from the Suns to the Pistons in 2015, Morris began questioning whether professional basketball was really meant for him.

"I start asking myself, 'Is this for me?'" Morris told ESPN. "Growing up, I loved the game so much -- it was the only thing that made me happy. But now it's stressing me out. It's all negative. It's all business, and I'm having trouble with that. So you start flipping back and forth. The money is great, but is it good for me as a human? Shouldn't that matter more than anything?"

When Morris was traded again, this time to Boston, things changed for the better. GM Danny Ainge and coach Brad Stevens helped Morris get help, referring him to psychologist Dr. Stephanie Pinder-Amaker.

"She has helped me so much," Morris told ESPN. "It may sound silly, but just closing my eyes in a dark room and breathing for 10 minutes a day helps me. I know lots of guys who are dealing with some kind of anxiety and depression -- not knowing if they have a job next season, not knowing if they're going to get traded. It's so stressful. Everyone is pulling at you. They want your time, your money, a piece of your fame...If you have depression, you should be trying to get rid of it instead of bottling it up and letting it weigh on you and weigh on you and weigh on you.”

You can read MacMullan's entire piece here.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE