BOSTON — Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens donned a “Not Done” Patriots winter cap and a Bill Belichick-style short-sleeve hoodie for his postgame media session after the Celtics rallied from a 16-point deficit Sunday to edge the visiting Portland Trail Blazers on Al Horford‘s buzzer-beater.
Stevens arrived at the podium alongside Philadelphia native Marcus Morris, who wore Carson Wentz’s No. 11 jersey. Stevens was able to keep things light after Horford’s fadeaway jumper lifted shorthanded Boston to a 97-96 triumph and the team’s fourth straight win.
“Football game to watch,” Stevens said when asked about his postgame attire. “And [Morris and Stevens] have had a lot of back-and-forth discussions so I thought I’d bring Marcus along. It helps that Al made the last shot; it helps it feel better.”
Asked about what he had in mind for the last play, Stevens quipped, “Wanted it to end the game so we could go watch the Super Bowl.”
Stevens then detailed how the Celtics erred in not fouling Damian Lillard earlier on their final defensive possession. Portland’s star guard got to the hoop and completed a three-point play to push the visitors out front with 7.2 seconds to play.
Portland gave a foul with 4 seconds to go and Stevens initially called a play for second-year swingman Jaylen Brown but audibled when the Blazers swarmed him.
“Coach called a play for Jaylen and then, as he’s calling it he’s like, ‘Keep the ball, keep the ball, and you know go score,'” said Horford. “[The Blazers] read it perfectly because I wanted to hand [Brown] the ball and they stayed very tight to him so, once that happened, I was just aggressive and went into a go-to move. Just like, I gotta find a way to score, took my time and that’s a shot that I work on a lot. It felt good that it went in.”
Horford finished with a team-high 22 points and 10 rebounds for a Boston team that was playing its third straight game without fellow All-Star Kyrie Irving.
“I think [Horford’s] shot just epitomizes the work he’s put in all year,” said Brown. “Al’s been playing really well for us, not only scoring the ball, making plays and defending at a really high level. That shot just epitomizes all that and more.”
Morris had worn an Eagles jersey each day this week, including a trio of home games. On Friday, Morris crashed Stevens’ postgame press conference and loudly spelled, “E-A-G-L-E-S!” to which Stevens deadpanned, “He’ll be suspended.”
Morris sat out again Sunday with backside soreness after falling hard in Wednesday’s win over New York. But he had some fun with Stevens at the podium.
Asked if their dual conference was part of some sort of bet, Stevens said, “You don’t want to do that,” to which Morris responded, “Taking all bets.”
After detailing the final possession, Stevens playfully noted, “Al feels a lot like [Patriots quarterback Tom] Brady today, right?” then playfully shifted the microphone in front of Morris.
“I guess,” answered Morris. After Stevens thanked him for being a good sport and coming to the podium with him, Morris added, “Just make sure that I take this picture. Post it after the [football] game.”
Stevens tried to end the press conference there but a few more questions followed. Asked about his Belichick-style hoodie, Stevens playfully said he’d lobby the league to allow such courtside attire.
“If the NBA would let us I would wear it,” said Stevens. “I was hoping that we would figure it out and go to a much more casual look on the sidelines. But maybe the Nike reps can push the NBA on that a little bit.”