Celtics

Celtics' Marcus Morris pleased his nickname -- Bench With Attitude -- is catching on

Celtics' Marcus Morris pleased his nickname -- Bench With Attitude -- is catching on

BOSTON — “You like B.W.A.?” Marcus Morris asked, a smile stretching across his face.

Morris coined the nickname  — an acronym for Bench With Attitude and a play off the rap group N.W.A. — for Boston’s backups during Monday’s Media Day and he’s pleased to hear it’s been positively received from all corners, even earning coach Brad Stevens’ immediate stamp of approval.

“[Fans are] selling t-shirts, I need a couple dollars off that,” said Morris. "I just want to have fun with all that. We definitely have a lot of guys who could start in this league. For opposing teams, if your bench not ready, it could get real ugly. When we get out there, we’re going to try to separate every time. That’s going to be our main focus.”

Morris’ bench brigade, with fellow headliners Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart, bested the starters during scrimmage work at the end of Day 2 of camp. But Morris said the goal of the B.W.A. isn’t to show that they should be starting, it’s to help Boston’s first unit be the best it can possibly be.

"For us, we’re just trying to be competitive. We’re trying to push them, man,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. "I don’t think it’s us trying to prove anything. I’ve been in the league a long time and these guys have been in the league, we know what each other can do. I think it’s more about the competition. The way I look at it, [the starters] can’t go and play against another bench that is going to be as good as us every day. I think that’s going to be great for us.”

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Morris' bench cohorts think the B.W.A. is the perfect description for a gritty group.

"We have the toughest team, the toughest bench, the toughest coach,” said Smart. "I definitely have a lot of attitude, I know Morris has some attitude, I know other guys have some attitude. I'm rocking with the name.”

It’s notable that the bench has pushed the starters in each of the two brief scrimmage sessions open to media since the start of camp. The bench might have held off the starters on Tuesday if not for Kyrie Irving’s last-second 3-pointer, and Rozier ensured no starter rally at the end of Wednesday’s work with a strong sequence that included a driving layup and a 3-pointer.

Stevens is quick to point out that he hasn’t necessarily announced his starters yet — though it’s a good bet that an Irving/Hayward/Al Horford/Jayson Tatum/Jaylen Brown combo will start most games, with Aron Baynes getting the occasional nod against lineups with pure centers — and the coach believes that having so many good players on the bench will force the starters to bring their A games each night.

"I love that [bench] group,” said Stevens. "Who knows how long those things will stay that way. You have a bunch of guys who have already proven they belong. It’s a responsibility of all the players to play as hard as they can. There’s no reason for us to have to get into a rhythm in a game, because we have a bunch of guys who will be itching to get in. That mindset off the bench will be really important.”

Morris is the biggest supporter for Boston’s starters and admitted the versatility of that group is what makes them so daunting on both ends of the court. But Morris believes the bench could be true difference-makers, able to pounce on teams with lesser second units. 

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In fact, he’s making that the mission statement of the B.W.A.

"I’m excited to see where we come in and change games,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. "That’s just our main focus is when our second unit comes in. If [opposing team’s] second unit’s not ready, you’re getting your a-- busted, you know I’m saying? That’s what it’s going to be.”

The Celtics’ bench players know that, even if they have to sacrifice their individual stat lines, everyone will benefit if the Celtics win. 

"For a team to be great you have to sacrifice, put your egos aside,” said Smart. "When you have a group of guys who come together like this, you believe in each other. Everybody just wants to play as a team.”

Which means the “Bench With Attitude" will also sometimes have to be the “Bench Without Attitude” if the Celtics are going to be successful. And Morris is perfectly fine with that.

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Kyrie Irving (shoulder) out indefinitely, could miss March 3 game in Boston

Kyrie Irving (shoulder) out indefinitely, could miss March 3 game in Boston

It looks like Boston Celtics fans may have to wait even longer to witness Kyrie Irving's return to TD Garden.

The ex-Celtics guard has been ruled out indefinitely after re-aggravating his injured right shoulder, Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said Tuesday. That likely puts Irving's status in doubt for the March 3 C's-Nets game in Boston.


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Irving didn't travel to Boston when his Nets visited the Celtics on Nov. 27. The shoulder injury has limited him to only 20 games this season, but he's been effective when healthy, averaging 27.4 points and 6.4 assists per game. 

This Friday is Jayson Tatum Day here at NBC Sports Boston. Be sure to check out our exclusive content around Tatum throughout the day, both online and on the broadcast of Celtics-Timberwolves, which begins Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 8 p.m. You can also stream it on the MyTeams App.

That 617 Life Podcast: What can NBA do to improve dunk and 3-point contests?

That 617 Life Podcast: What can NBA do to improve dunk and 3-point contests?

If you missed this year's NBA All-Star Game, you missed one of the most entertaining All-Star events in recent sports history.

Team LeBron vs. Team Giannis came down to the wire, with both teams battling at 100-percent effort to reach the target score of 157 under the game's new format. Defense was being played at a tremendously high level, which we've hardly ever seen in any NBA All-Star Game. Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry even took two charges.

But as great as the game was, All-Star Weekend as a whole could still use some improvement. Particularly in the dunk and 3-point contests.

On the latest edition of the "That 617 Life" podcast, hosts Leroy Irvin, Shanda Foster, and Cerrone Battle discuss what the NBA could do to make them better:

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.

Battle thought the 3-point and dunk contests were entertaining, but would like to see more participants:

Another issue I have with All-Star Weekend when it comes to the 3-point contest and the dunk contest is the amount of participants ... I remember Terry Porter and Mark Price going at it at the same time. It was like 12 guys in the contest, you know what I'm saying?

And in the dunk contest -- I mean at one point back in the 80's it was like 10 dudes trying to win it. And it's like now, as good as it is, I would love to see more participants. I want to see more people in it. I want to see a longer contest. A true tournament.

Foster agrees with Battle and wants to see some of the biggest stars in the league step up to join in on the festivities.

They need to bring that back. I got really sick and tired of seeing -- and you know, I get it, it's the vacation -- but it was irritating to see the big names just flossing all their photos on Instagram from vacation when it's like, you know, it's All-Star break -- it's called All-Star for a reason. It's not "All-Star" if the All-Stars aren't all there.

For more NBA All-Star Weekend discussion, you can click here to listen and subscribe to Thar 617 Life Podcast.