BOSTON -- First-year Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens stepped to the podium Wednesday and asked longtime team PR man Jeff Twiss if he wanted him to give an opening statement. When Twiss nodded in affirmation, Stevens leaned into the microphone and deadpanned, “Winning’s more fun than losing."
With Boston's 97-87 triumph over the winless Utah Jazz, Stevens notched his first NBA victory at TD Garden. The Celtics (1-4) fell behind by 13 early, then played some sensational ball while building as much as a 25-point lead (but held on for dear life at the finish line).
Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck alertly snagged the game ball after the final whistle for a Stevens family keepsake. That shows how little Stevens was thinking about the moment. He got a quick on-court hug from Jeff Green, lingered around midcourt for a moment, then headed for the locker room with Boston's next game already on his mind during a week in which the Celtics play five games in seven days in five different cities.
"I’m going to celebrate for a whole 12 minutes and then I’m going to start watching Orlando and trying to figure them out," Stevens joked. "Obviously they’ve had a great start to their season, and they’ve got good young talent. And we’ve got a couple more road games -- I feel like we’ve already toured half the NBA this week -- so just a couple of more road games this week.”
Before the game, Stevens admitted that losing wasn't easy for him to digest. After an 0-4 start, one in which Boston has come up short late in games, it's a morale boost for the Celtics' locker room to get in the win column (even if it'll spoil Tanksgiving for those fans that want Boston to lose as many games as possible to get a better chance at a premium draft position).
For Stevens, he's satisfied that his team is moving in the right direction.
"The thing I’m most excited about is we played pretty well in two straight games," Stevens said. "That’s a positive. That’s a real positive."
Asked if it was nice to get his coach a win, Brandon Bass said, "Hopefully we can get him many more."
Read on for more postgame notes from Boston's win over Utah:
FAVERANI ALL IN DESPITE BEING PULLED OUT: Celtics rookie center Vitor Faverani, one of the bright spots at times during Boston's 0-4 start, played just six minutes in Wednesday's win. Faverani labored early, missing all four shots he put up in his first shift and struggling to contain Utah's bigs as the Jazz built a lead that would grow to 13. After a quick hook, Faverani never returned and fellow rookie Kelly Olynyk started the second half in his place. How did Faverani respond to that? "This is one of the reasons that I really like Vitor. When I told Vitor that Kelly was starting, Vitor put his arm around Kelly and was talking to him," Stevens said. "I really like Vitor. Vitor is all in." Even when he's out.
PRESSEY PRESSED INTO ACTION: With Boston utilizing Jordan Crawford next to Avery Bradley in a new-look starting unit, that opened the door for Phil Pressey to get floor time as backup ball handler. Pressey played 17 minutes, chipping in two points (his first NBA basket came off a driving layup in the final moments of the third quarter), three assists, one steal, and no turnovers. Said Pressey, who had logged three consecutive DNPs after a brief cameo on opening night in Toronto, "It was exciting. It was similar to the first game, but I got to stay out there a little longer. I got a feel for the game, and the more I play, the easier it became."
GUESS WHAT DAY IT IS: It was Hump Day, as Kris Humphries also made a rare cameo on Wednesday. Like Pressey, Humphries hadn't played since opening night. He played only 5:42 this time around, but knocked down a jumper early in his only shift and grabbed two rebounds. He was plus-5 in that span. "I thought Hump was ready and did a great job for us in the first half," Stevens said. Could MarShon Brooks be the next player unlocked? Said Stevens, "MarShon is really close to his opportunity. All those guys have to do is maintain a good mindset and they’ll take advantage of their opportunities. That’s what I’ve been most impressed with, with those guys. They’ve been really good about it."
C'S COMPETITIVE ON THE GLASS: The Jazz were the league's best offensive rebounding team and the Celtics the worst defensive rebounding team entering Wednesday's game. The total rebounds were dead even (42) and Boston limited Utah to 11 offensive boards (for a manageable 18 second-chance points). Said Stevens, "The best thing tonight is that we rebounded pretty well. They got 11 offensive rebounds but their percentage wasn’t like it’s been, or at least what I was concerned about against us."