Celtics

Stars, studs, and duds from the Celtics' overtime win vs the Suns

Stars, studs, and duds from the Celtics' overtime win vs the Suns

And to think, this was supposed to be the easiest game for the Boston Celtics on this West coast road trip.

That was so not the case against the Phoenix Suns on Thursday as they seemingly had the Celtics beat only for Boston to stage a late-game surge that propelled them to an improbable 116-109 overtime win.

Phoenix star Devin Booker hit a floating bank-shot with 3:45 to play in the fourth quarter that pushed the Suns lead to 94-80.

Boston put the clamps on defensively from there as they closed out the fourth with a furious 20-6 run to force overtime.

With the momentum in their favor, the Celtics picked up where they left off in the fourth and in doing so, picked up a much-needed victory which snapped a two-game losing skid.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s come-from-behind win.

STARS

Kyrie Irving: By no means was this one of Irving’s better games, but he did what he had to do in order to carry the Celtics to victory in a game that for most of the night, they did not play well enough to win. He finished with a game-high 39 points on 13-for-28 shooting to go with seven rebounds and six assists.

Devin Booker: The Suns have lauded Booker for his potential as a playmaker, something the Celtics saw up close on Thursday night. In addition to splashing a bevy of 3-pointers which is commonplace for Booker, he also got a number of teammates involved. For the night, he tallied a near double-double of 38 points on 15-for-30 shooting to go with nine assists.

STUDS

T.J. Warren Jr.: His playing time has fluctuated a bit lately, but Thursday’s performance showed he’s not quite ready to give up his spot in the rotation. He was on the scoring prowl from the jump and finished with 29 points on 9-for-17 shooting from the field.

Jaylen Brown: It was indeed a solid night for Brown who came through with some big shots during Boston’s surge in the fourth quarter and overtime, and finished with 17 points and six rebounds for the night.

DeAndre Ayton: His rookie of the year resume just keeps on growing with each passing game. The No. 1 overall pick in last June’s draft finished with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds.

DUDS

Jayson Tatum: Easily one of the worst games Tatum has had as a professional shooting the ball, finishing with just four points while missing six of his seven shot attempts from the field.

Celtics defense: They got the win, but there were a number of mistakes and miscues defensively that allowed Phoenix to play with control for most of the night. They were better in the second half, for sure. But they can’t bank on winning too many games playing as poorly as they did defensively for most of the night.

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The Camera Guys: Some coaching pointers for Brad Stevens

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The Camera Guys: Some coaching pointers for Brad Stevens

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens stopped by the Red Sox spring training facility Sunday in Fort Myers, Fla., so you know NBC Sports Boston's Camera Guys had to get a few minutes with the man of the hour.

Stevens, of course, is an Indiana native. And he's a master at running set plays. So you know Glenn Gleason and Bill "Moose" Messina had to ask him if he'd ever consider installing the iconic "Picket Fence" play run by coach Norman Dale in the movie "Hoosiers".

"I’ve heard of the play," Stevens told Moose. "I need to go back and look at it closer."

Not to worry, Brad.

"We’re tape eaters," Glenn interjected. "We can get it done for you!"

The Celtics resume their regular season post-All-Star break on Thursday with a huge tilt in Milwaukee against the Bucks, who sport the NBA's best record. Tip off is 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Boston.

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Brad Stevens visits Red Sox camp and reflects on Boston coaching fraternity

Brad Stevens visits Red Sox camp and reflects on Boston coaching fraternity

If Boston were a college campus, the hottest fraternity to join right now would be the coaching one. The chapter president, of course, is Bill Belichick, but right behind him in the ranks are Brad Stevens and Alex Cora.

Which is why for the second year in a row Stevens made his way to Fort Meyers to watch batting practice and bullpen sessions while picking the brains of his Red Sox equivalent Alex Cora and FOB (friend of Bill), Tony LaRussa.

“It’s one of the great benefits of being the Celtics coach. You get a chance to meet these people and learn a great deal from them,” Stevens said. “Whether it’s those guys or {Bill} Belichick or Bruce {Cassidy} or whoever. We’re really blessed to have a lot of people to pick the minds of in Boston.”

The way Stevens sees things, he learns as much or more from the men who lead teams in sports other than basketball. 

“You are all dealing with the same things on a day to day basis. The challenges of a team. The challenges of being the best that you can be.”

MORE FROM TRENNI KUSNIEREK

Cora views the opportunity in a similar light. He feels he can learn a little something from everyone that in turn makes his job a little easier in a tough market like Boston. 

A place that becomes a lot tougher when you aren’t cruising to a team record 108 wins in the regular season and a World Series title. 

“It’s not that I’m expecting them, {bad stretches} but when it comes, I know how the city reacts to it,” Cora explained, “and how the media reacts to it. It’s a good learning experience.”

Although Cora marveled at how Bill Belichick can stand in front of a room of reporters and say almost nothing, Cora conceded with a laugh he doesn’t quite have that clout yet.

“I can’t do it yet with you guys,” Cora admitted, “But it’s pretty cool he is the way he is with the media. But then you talk to him and he’s a real person and he’s funny and obviously very smart.”

At the end of the day both Cora and Stevens understand that every coach and manager in town is aiming for the same thing. 

“I think that ultimately we all want to improve,” Stevens said. “We all want to get better.”

CELTICS NOTES

Stevens also touched on a few basketball topics on Sunday afternoon. 

On Jayson Tatum’s All-Star Game Challenge win:

“Yeah, he made a big shot, from deep. That challenge always seems to come to down to whether you make that shot or not. Jayson did a great job finishing it with a little flair. That’s what the All-Star game is all about.”

Anthony Davis comments:

“I can’t talk about all that stuff. As far as just generally in regards to rumors, we do talk about as a team, focusing on what we can control. Danny does a great job of handling all that.”

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