Celtics

Horford, Celtics find motivation in Red Sox

Horford, Celtics find motivation in Red Sox

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Celtics don’t need any additional motivation when it comes to championship desires but, with the region captivated by the Red Sox in the World Series, the local nine are offering a little extra inspiration — and maybe a tiny diversion — as the Celtics ease into a season with their own championship expectations.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has routinely gushed about the Sox’ postseason exploits and players such as Al Horford have made their games appointment viewing. The Celtics are very aware of what’s happening over at Fenway Park.

“I think it’s just something special,” said Horford. “Being in Boston, and just seeing something like that, it motivates me. It motivates us to try to go out and do some special things as well.

“Right now, it's kind of their moment. It’s just good to see their group come together and play at such a high level because — that Houston series, obviously, I was just impressed because Houston’s a really good team. Right now, they’ve had tough games the first two games [against the Dodgers] and [Game 2] was very gritty. I’m just excited to see them doing well.”

Horford’s baseball-playing grandfather instilled a love of the sport and Horford has made friends with many of the MLB stars from his native Dominican Republic. It was the presence of David Ortiz and Pedro Martinez that made Horford a fan of the Red Sox even before he signed in the Celtics and, even though he doesn’t know many of the current Sox, Horford still finds himself screaming at his hotel TV while watching the games.

And it doesn’t hurt that the Sox’ success is providing nice cover as the Celtics work through some early-season growing pains.

"That’s one way to look at it,” Horford said with a laugh. “Fortunately, we’re in October...There’s a lot of expectations for our group. And when you’re not fulfilling them, you’re going to get criticized and that’s fair. We need to play better, that’s no secret.”

Both Horford and Stevens noted how much fun the Red Sox look like they’re having in their games. Celtics players have admitted they might be pressing a bit amid an underwhelming start to the season and players yearn to get back to simply having fun on the court.

“[The Red Sox] just continue to have this unbelievable mentality,” said Stevens. "I haven’t watched every World Series for the past 50 years but, at the same time, I can’t imagine any team looks like they are having more fun than the Red Sox. I think you can see that in their play, how together they are, how many smiles you see, it’s a fun team. And I hope they get it done in the next two games, but at the same time know how hard that’s going to be and you take it one pitch at a time. But, man, they are fun to watch.”

As Alex Cora pushes all the right buttons this postseason, it’s clear Stevens respects the way the Sox manager leads his team.

"He’s such a great guy, and he’s so good with people that’s it’s not a shock,” said Stevens. “You can clearly tell everybody’s on board. And the way they are supporting one another, and the way they are going about their business is a blast. 

"If you’re not from Boston and you’re just watching from afar, you’re looking for a team to root for, they’d be an easy one to pick because of the way they play and the way they pick up each other.”

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Brad Stevens: No more minutes restriction for Gordon Hayward

Brad Stevens: No more minutes restriction for Gordon Hayward

BOSTON – There may be games in the future when Gordon Hayward logs just 25 or so minutes of court time, but it won’t have anything to do with team-imposed limitations anymore.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Hayward, coming off a season-high 39 minutes of court time in Boston’s 123-116 overtime win against Toronto on Friday night, is no longer on a minutes restriction.

Stevens said the lifting of the minutes came after Hayward played in back-to-back games for the first time this season at Phoenix and Utah.

In the three games since then, Hayward has averaged 33 minutes per game while scoring 11 points, 6 rebounds and 4.7 assists.

Following Friday’s win, Hayward said he was surprised that Stevens kept in in the game for the entire five-minute overtime period after he had already logged more than 30 minutes on the floor.

“I wasn’t even thinking about it,” Stevens said. “I was told he was not on a minutes restriction. So, I played who I thought gave us the best chance of winning on that given night. I didn’t realize he had gotten to 39 minutes. With an overtime game, everybody got up there in minutes. I didn’t even think about it, because I was told I don’t need to think about it anymore.”

Stevens added, “Now he’s going to have games where he plays 25 (minutes) again. But at the end of the day, not restrictive which is good. The whole idea of a minutes restriction is to get yourself back to the point where you physically can handle the demands of this season and do so without taking steps back.”

For the season, Hayward is averaging 10.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. He missed all but the first five minutes of last season after suffering a left ankle/leg injury in the season opener. 

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Kyrie Irving did something only 2 other Celtics have done

Kyrie Irving did something only 2 other Celtics have done

How special was Kyrie Irving's performance Friday night?

Only two other Celtics have done what he did. 

Irving's 43-point, 11-assist effort propelled the Celtics to a 123-116 overtime victory over the Raptors. You have to go back to 2001 to find a 40-plus-points, 10-plus-assists game from a Green Teamer. Antoine Walker scored 43 and had 13 assists against the Kings in Sacramento. 

And prior to that? Larry Bird, in his final season, had triple-double of 49 points, 12 assists and 14 rebounds in a victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Of course, that was the THIRD time in his career Larry Legend accomplished the feat. He did it in 1990 (43 points, 13 assists) against the Denver Nuggets and earlier victimized the Blazers again with 47 and 11 in Portland in 1986.

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