BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens knows Jordan Crawford will have some extra emotions playing against his former team during Saturday's matinee visit from the Washington Wizards, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
"There are human elements to this game and you can either approach them in that way, or you can just focus on team and controlling what you can control," said Stevens. "One of Jordan’s greatest strengths is his willingness and his desire to step up in the moment. I don’t want to do anything to limit that. One of the things that I talked to him about is, ‘OK, this is what we’re looking to do, this is how we’re looking to attack,’ but he needs to be able to pick his spots and choose his spots, and he’ll make some mistakes, but that’s OK. We’ll live with that and ride with that. Hopefully the good ones outweigh the bad ones at the end of the game."
Acquired from the Wizards at February's trade deadline last season, Crawford played his former squad last April. He registered six points, two assists and two steals over 16 minutes in Boston's 107-96 triumph at TD Garden. Crawford's role has expanded this season, elevating to starting point guard as Rajon Rondo rehabs from ACL surgery. Crawford even netted the NBA's Eastern Conference Player of the Week honor earlier this month.
"He’s been capable of that. We’ve all known that, of doing what he’s able to do," said Washington coach Randy Wittman. "He’s a good player that can affect the game in a lot of different ways. Again, I have a hard enough time following our team closely to really give you any more than that. I mean, I coached him. I know what he’s capable of. I think you guys are seeing that here."
Former teammate John Wall fully expects an amped Crawford.
"You know Jordan. You know how he is. He’s a competitive guy," said Wall. "And when he feels like a team lets him go or something like that, he uses that as more motivation. He wants to show them a reason why. I think he matured, so he’ll show them in a better way than he would have in the past. In the past, he probably would’ve tried to go out and get 30 or 40 [points]. Now, I think he’ll try to do whatever he’s doing in the right way and try to set his guys up and just try to win the basketball game."
A couple other pregame notes:
SANTA VISITS EARLY: Each Celtics player had an Xbox One with a ribbon stuck to it at their locker on Saturday morning. Courtney Lee, an avid gamer, said he hoped the gifts would inspire his teammates to dedicate themselves to bringing their video gaming to his level. "Hopefully these guys will work on their skills so I can have some people to compete against in here," said Lee.
BETTER DEFENSE REQUIRED: Asked about his team's offensive progression lately, Stevens said, "We’re progressing offensively. When you score 106 points [Wednesday night against Detroit], I feel like we should win [that game]. So I didn’t think we were as good defensively, but part of that was that we turned the ball over too much. We go through our lulls with turning it over, we have to get better with that. But I think we’re utilizing our strengths better than we were at the start of the year, and, hey, we’re small. When you look out there, especially with [Brandon] Bass and Jared [Sullinger] out there, we’re a small team, even in the perimeter we’re small. We’re going to have to utilize all of different skill sets to be the best that we can be. And our guys are doing a pretty good job of finding people in spots to be successful."