MORELL, P.E.I. – Morell’s Scott Morrison knows what others are saying, but he won’t get caught up in the hype as he enters Year 2 as an assistant coach with the NBA’s Boston Celtics.
The squad is considered by many to be the Eastern Conference favourite with everyone healthy, last year’s run to the semifinals under its belt and LeBron James now playing on the West Coast.
“The challenge this year is to try to manage the expectation of the media, the fans and even ourselves to make sure we don’t lose sight of the process of what it will take to reach our goals,” Morrison said Wednesday. “It’s going to be a lot of work to get to that point. . . We can’t get ahead of ourselves.”
The Celtics opened the season Tuesday by defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 105-87 at the TD Garden in Boston. It was a much better start than a year earlier, when big off-season acquisition Gordon Hayward suffered a dislocated left ankle and broken tibia six minutes into the first game.
The forward had 10 points, five rebounds and four steals in 24:37 on Tuesday.
“It was good to see him be able to get his name called at the Garden and hit his first couple of shots,” said Morrison, who has worked with Hayward since he signed with the Celts.
Tonight, Boston plays another team expected to contend for Eastern Conference supremacy when they travel north of the border to play the Toronto Raptors at 9 p.m. Atlantic. It is one of two games Boston plays in Toronto this season.
Coming back to Canada has its advantages and disadvantages for the 41-year-old Morrison, who coached at Dalhousie University in Halifax and Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., and has been part of the national program the past few years.
“It’s nice to go home and see some people,” Morrison said. “It makes things pretty busy for me personally because there’s about 75,000 ticket requests. I only get two per game, so it’s hard to meet all of them.”
Morrison was planning on attending Thursday’s NHL game between Pittsburgh and Toronto, but it will be all business for Morrison and his team on game day.
“It’s a great place to play no matter where you’re from,” the former UPEI Panthers guard said Wednesday. “Coach (Brad Stevens) talked about it in practice today that this is going to be a playoff atmosphere in Game 2 for us on the road.”
The Celtics lost 111-91 in Toronto on Feb. 6 in a game amongst Eastern Conference powerhouses.
“They came out and played like it. They wanted to prove something and we kind of played like we had already done something,” Morrison said. “I hope that we learned from that and if I get a chance I am going to make sure the guys remember the fact. . . These guys are going to be ready for us.”
He said Toronto is among the top four arena atmospheres he has witnessed in the NBA along with Golden State, Utah and, of course, Boston.
The routine is similar for Morrison in Year 2 and while he has a better comfort level with the position, he’s not completely comfortable.
“I feel like I’ve earned some trust from coach and the other guys on the staff,” he explained. “At the same time, I’m just trying to keep in mind there’s lots of people . . . coming for your spot. A lot of people would love to be in this position.”
Morrison was rewarded with his first three-year contract with the Celtics during the off-season.
“It’s great just to know that they wanted to keep me around,” he said. “It’s a good vote of confidence, but also it puts a little pressure on me (to) make sure I keep doing good work and contributing.”