Brad Stevens touched on many topics while speaking with the media on Monday afternoon, and among them were injury updates for Marcus Smart and Kyrie Irving.
In terms of Smart’s potential return, Stevens reiterated much of what we’ve heard over the last week or so. “He’s working on his lower body and his conditioning as much as he can right now. Earliest I’ve been told he can return is April 27. We are still a ways away from that and a lot of games away from that. We’ll see how that all goes. I don’t know if that timeline holds.” April 27 is one day before the scheduled date for Game 7.
As for Kyrie Irving, we received some good feedback. Stevens said he was surprised to see Irving walking around without crutches so soon after surgery, but also stated that he’s not familiar with the recovery process. He had just finished meeting with the Celtics training staff shortly before speaking with the media, and said that they are excited about his early progress. “They felt great about his early (recovery). It’s exciting, it’s encouraging.”
After a tough offensive stretch yesterday, Stevens praised Shane Larkin’s defensive contributions in Game 1. “People may have said because of his size and everything else, that he may not be as good defensively as he’s been. He’s been excellent defensively for us.”
Overall, Stevens sounded very pleased with his team’s Game 1 performance, noting their resilience over the last few months. “I’ve been around a lot of teams. I’ve been around a lot of tough teams. I don’t know if I’ve been around a team that responds to tough stretches in games better than this one.”
More quotes from today’s availability:
On Marcus Morris: “He’s very committed. He’s an excellent pro.” “He provides some defensive versatility for us that’s really important against guys like Giannis and Parker.”
On Jayson Tatum’s versatility: “We’re trying to put our team in great positions, and he’s a big part of that. We’re asking him to do a lot on that end of the court. Last week he was playing point guard for us, so maybe we’ll try him at the five at some point.”