Stars, studs and duds: Bird ‘pretty surprised' to make NBA debut


PHILADELPHIA – Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.
Jabari Bird, in California at the time, took that approach when the Boston Celtics needed him to catch a red-eye flight back to Boston following Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury.
And in his first shot at playing time on Friday, a similar mindset was on display with Bird serving as one of the key contributors to Boston’s 102-92 win over the Sixers


He played 13 minutes and 38 seconds on the floor, finishing with three points and a rebound.
But more important, it was his defense which helped cool off a red-hot J.J. Redick who finished with a team-high 19 points.
Bird admits he was caught off guard when he heard his name called to go into the game, and then play a decent amount of minutes.
“I was pretty surprised, for it being my first time getting into an NBA game, getting those minutes," Bird said. "I was a little nervous, but I tried to go in there and do the right things on defense and space the floor on offense and try to do what I’ve tried to do my whole career and that’s play the right way.
He added, “I … wasn’t supposed to be here, to be honest. The fact that they put me in, in a tough situation like that, means I’ve earned the trust of the coaching staff. I’m just trying to build on it.”
The good thing for Bird is that next time he sees action, he’ll likely be calmer and composed than he was on Friday night.
When he got the call to enter the game, Celtics assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry had a few words for him.
What he’d say?
“I honestly couldn’t hear him,” Bird said. “I was so focused, I was happy to be in the game. I didn’t hear what the coaching staff was saying to me.”
And while there’s no guarantee that Bird will suit up for Boston’s next game on Tuesday against the New York Knicks, there’s one thing we all know now about Bird.
He will be ready.
“My mindset is, if you stay ready you don’t have to get ready,” Bird said. “So I try to live by that every time, game day, practice, whatever I’m doing; stay ready and I’ll be prepared for each and every moment.”
Here are some other Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 102-92 win over Philadelphia.  
Shane Larkin

He only had 10 points with four assists, but make no mistake about it: Boston does not win this game without Larkin’s floor game in the fourth quarter which is when he scored eight of his 10 points absolutely killing the Sixers with a two-man pick-and-roll game with Al Horford.
J.J. Redick

The Celtics had problems most of the game with Redick who led the Sixers with 19 points. But Boston made him a non-factor in the fourth, limiting him to just two points on 1-for-4 shooting.
Kyrie Irving

He looked a lot more comfortable scoring the ball even as the Sixers blitzed him often with double-teams and tilts defensively. He led all players with 21 points along with six rebounds and four assists.


Al Horford

He had a solid night for three quarters but really came alive in the fourth. That is when he scored nine of his 17 points and wound up with nine rebounds – one shy of a double-double.
Jerryd Bayless

Very efficient shooting the ball most of the night, finishing with 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting.
Terry Rozier

Good call on Brad Stevens’ part to keep Rozier attached with the second unit. He had 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting to go with seven rebounds and two assists.
Ben Simmons

He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (4-for-11), but still managed a double-double of 11 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
Jayson Tatum

The rookie continues to play with a pace and poise that’s so atypical for a rookie, let alone a 19-year-old. He had yet another near double-double for the Celtics, finishing with 15 points and eight rebounds to go with three blocked shots.
Joel Embiid

Boston’s Aron Baynes did a really good job on Embiid, which makes him finishing with a double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds all that more impressive considering it wasn’t even close to being one of his better games.

Markelle Fultz

The number one overall pick in last June’s NBA draft continues to deliver some not-so-impressive stat lines for the Sixers. He came off the bench and scored six points while missing seven of his nine shot attempts.
Boston’s free throw shooting

The Celtics had yet another sub-par night from the line as they shot 68.8 percent (22-for-32) from the line with a pair of players – Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier – each missing three free throws apiece.


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