Celtics

Irving, Horford give seal of approval to All-Star changes

Irving, Horford give seal of approval to All-Star changes

LOS ANGELES -- Kyrie Irving and Al Horford were on different teams for the NBA's All-Star game pitting Team LeBron vs Team Steph, so somebody was coming back a loser.

But considering how competitive the game was for longer stretches than usual, both players came away feeling good in a relatively close All-Star game that ended with Team LeBron edging Team Steph, 148-145.

LeBron James led all scorers with 29 points along with 10 rebounds and 8 assists and walked away with Game MVP honors for the third time.

Irving, who played for Team LeBron, had a near double-double with 13 points and nine assists along with seven rebounds.

And Horford, who came off the bench for Team Steph, had six points and five rebounds along with two assists.  

“This was pretty fun,” Irving said. “I think that we showcased that tonight with an incredible competitive spirit. The game was kind of getting away, but I think a few of us took it a little personal that we wanted to keep the game still competitive and at a high level. Fans and everyone across so many different countries want to see the best players in the world showcase their talent.”

Horford echoed similar sentiments about the game, which had a different format this year. LeBron James and Stephen Curry picked the two teams from the 22-player pool of players from both the Eastern and Western Conferences.

“Early, guys were making [defensive] plays,” Horford said. “Guys were making a point, they weren’t going to let it be a dunk fest.

Horford added, “Even last year and the year before, there was a lot of heat on how bad the game was. I felt like this game was, it was good.”

Irving, a five-time All-Star, also acknowledged how he and some of the players wanted to change the perception of the All-Star Game as being nothing more than a glorified lay-up line.

“I think we all took it kind of personal,” Irving said. “Individually we wanted to come out and be competitive. Last year it was (192-182), that’s just not as fun as communicating with guys that you don’t necessarily play with every single day, bouncing ideas off in the time-outs. It’s just that competitive fire that we all share.”

And then there’s the payday for winning.

Not only will various charities benefit from the game -- LeBron James’ charity of choice gets $350,000 because his team won and Steph Curry’s charity of choice gets $150,000 -- but the players on the winning team get a pretty nice check as well.

The winning team members each get $100,000 while the players on the losing team come away with $25,000.

“There was something that, something that we could look forward to if we got the win,” Irving acknowledged. “You know, they’ll probably bring up the cash prize, but . . . $100,000 to $25,000, I think everybody in this room would be doing the same things we were doing.”

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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.

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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.

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