Last night, the Celtics won another game without our most notable players. Coming off a shocking win over the OKC Thunder, which ended in insane fashion, the Celtics went up against one of the hottest teams in basketball, the Portland Trailblazers. The Lillard-led Blazers held a 13-2 record over the past 15 games before last night.
The story of the game was all Marcus Morris. For a second straight game, Mook led the thin Celtics’ roster on offense and did not disappoint in the slightest. Marcus Morris followed up his 21 point game against OKC with a 30 point game against Portland.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, Marcus Morris is a very underrated player for the Celtics and has proven to be huge for the team down the stretch, especially now that the team needs someone to step up. When Avery Bradley was traded to Detroit, and everyone was freaking out over losing our best defender and arguably one of our best players, I knew the return of Marcus Morris would be worth it.
Enough about my love for Marcus Morris. Let’s talk about the other guys who made this win possible. Al Horford didn’t have his best game, only finishing with 11 points and 3 rebounds, but he made huge plays late in the game. Greg Monroe continued to impress, finishing with a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds). Scary Terry had 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists. Jayson Tatum had a pretty lackluster game leading up to the fourth quarter. The same can be said for Shane Larkin. But once the fourth quarter hit, all hell broke loose.
You have to credit to all the guys that have stepped up in the recent absence of the teams’ best players, but there’s one man who we should really be thanking: Brad Stevens. If the Celtics’ recent string of wins without our best players doesn’t prove that Brad Stevens is a certified genius and the Coach of the Year, then I don’t know what else he has to do to prove that he is. Not only did Coach Stevens turn the Celtics into a powerhouse in the NBA WITHOUT Gordon Hayward, but he’s also continuing to make the C’s competitive without Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Daniel Theis, and Marcus Smart. The only other coach I can see taking the award away from him would be Mike D’Antoni, but even then I don’t think he has as big of an argument to win the award as Stevens does.
Will the Celtics continue to be successful without some of their best players going into the playoffs? Who knows honestly. This team is so hard to predict. But I’ll tell you one thing, they’ll compete and try as hard as they can to continue winning with such a thin roster. We should be getting a timetable for Kyrie’s return within the day, so keep your eye out for that. The early timetable is 6-8 weeks. If this is the case, Terry Rozier and Shane Larkin need to continue holding down the point guard position for the time being. They’ve done a great job so far, but there are still ten games left in the regular season.
Time to close out the season strong, boys. Injuries or not, I have full faith in this team to still compete with the best teams in the league, even with a G-League lineup. Whether it’s the Boston Celtics or Maine Red Claws, they’re still going to make noise, prove people wrong, and make your team miserable.