Celtics coach Brad Stevens conducted a 10-minute conference call on Wednesday from London. The call began with a question about whether he was surprised by Kyrie Irving’s leadership ability, which he was not, and we’ll pick it up from there with a transcription of the Q&A …
Q: Is his leadership something that you knew him for when he played for Cleveland or something that he discovered along the way?
A: “Our expectation is that everybody leads through, No. 1, doing your job as well as you can, and No. 2, supporting everybody as we all move forward. So, that expectation is not just on him. It’s not just on Al [Horford]. It’s not just on coaches. It’s on everybody on our team, whether it’s a 19-year-old like Jayson Tatum or a 31-year-old like Aron Baynes, so that’s an expectation that everybody has.”
Q: Obviously, everybody gets all in a huff when they see Gordon Hayward without a brace on …
… but is there any update or are you still checking off milestones at this point?
A: “I don’t know exactly the time of it. I think we’re approaching 12 weeks out or something like that, and that was where he was anticipated to be if the treatment would continue to go well. He’d be moving out of the boot and then the brace and now being able to do without. I’m not sure that’s a 24-hour thing right now. I haven’t talked to anybody back in Boston since we landed, but obviously nothing’s changed with his timelines. This isn’t like a huge ordeal. This is what was expected.
Q: Do you feel like with the way things have progressed that it’s maybe more realistic that he returns this season than you initially thought?
A: “No change in our expectations or from what we thought from the time of the surgery. This is the process of the rehab and everything else after the surgery happened and after everything went well. Again, I haven’t been told anything any different, and we’ve been in pretty constant contact until I got over here, so I would say that there’s really nothing more to read into. Sorry.”
Q: How has the trip been logistically as far as practicing and fitting into the grander scheme of the schedule? Is this turning out to be more or less of a distraction than maybe you had anticipated?
A: “I don’t know from the standpoint of what it does to you long-term. Obviously, it’s a great opportunity to spend time to be with the team. We went out to dinner together, obviously traveling abroad, being able to represent the NBA on a global schedule is a great opportunity, and everybody’s looking forward to that.
“And, at the same time, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about how we’re going to manage this appropriately from a standpoint of travel and practice and rest and everything else, not only through tomorrow, but then through the next few weeks as well. We’ve got three home games, and then a West Coast road trip right after that, so we’ve spent a lot of time focused on that, and it’s something we need to, because obviously it is quite a bit of travel.”
Q: You are probably playing the best basketball in the Eastern Conference. How satisfied are you with the status of your team, and what do you think you need to improve going forward?
A: “Well, we’re not good enough to be where we want to be. We’ve been fortunate to win some games, and ultimately we’ve got to get better on both sides of the floor. Certainly, we’ve got to become a more consistent offensive team, and then we’ve got to make sure that, as we have to improve in that area and we get a chance to improve through practice and those types of things, we don’t lose our defensive mentality that we’ve played with for most of the year. We haven’t been perfect, but we’ve been pretty good on that end.
“But basketball has such a small margin of error, and the other teams out there are getting better, too, and every game’s a challenge. You have to play your ‘A’ game to win.”
Q: Now that Marcus Morris’ minutes restrictions are up, is that going to change the way you plan on using him [as a reserve or starter]?
A: “I think it just depends game-to-game, as far as how we go about the starting or coming off the bench thing. I think that’s been productive for our team, and even though his minutes restriction has been upped a little, I think that ultimately you’re still conscious of his minutes. We want to continue to make sure that we’re progressing well, so that we’re playing at our very best and he’s a big part of us playing our very best.”
Q: What do you think has made the difference for Jayson Tatum in terms of reliability, being a starter and getting crunch-time minutes?
A: “As people around Boston know, we don’t give anything. Everything is earned, and you get an opportunity by adding value to winning. He’s proven that he can add value to winning on both ends of the floor. I think he will continue to get better. I think his best quality at this age is his maturity, his ability to move on to what’s next, regardless of if he had success or found a rough patch. I think that he’s unique in that regard, so I think ultimately that he’s got a bright future.
“The other thing is, both him and Jaylen [Brown] have done a really good job of embracing what they need to do to be successful and recognizing the impact and opportunity to play alongside guys who draw so much attention, like Kyrie and Al.”
We’ve got more British-themed content coming for you this week, and we’re also trying to nail down a Q&A with Kadeem Allen about what it’s like to chase your NBA dream on a two-way contract in the G League.
Finally, a big thank you to all Parquet Post subscribers. Your December subscription fees bought a week’s worth of meals for a homeless veteran through the New England Center and Home for Veterans. Well done.