Morning sports update: Brad Stevens says the Celtics are ‘not as good as everybody thinks we are’

Plus, all the latest on Game 1 of the World Series, including the return of an old Fenway Park villain.

Boston, MA--10/22/2018-- Celtics head coach Brad Stevens reacts to a foul call during the second quarter of game action against the Magic at TD Garden in Boston. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff)

Topic: Celtics-Magic
Reporter:
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens reacts to a foul call during the second quarter Monday night against the Magic at TD Garden in Boston. –Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe

Good morning, Boston. The World Series begins tonight.

Scroll down for the latest on Game 1 between the Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers — but first, a reality check for the Celtics, whose “early season funk” continued Monday night with a 93-90 loss to the Orlando Magic.

Listen to Brad Stevens: It might not come together quickly

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been repeating himself for a few months now. At first it seemed like he was just playing the expectations game. But after the team’s second loss of the season Monday night to the Orlando Magic, maybe it’s time we start putting some stock in his words.

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“I’ve said from day one we’re not as good as everybody thinks we are,’ Stevens told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin after the game. “I think that’s just another reminder how much we have to work.”

With a healthy Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, the Celtics are considered a — if not the — favorite to win the Eastern Conference. But following their season-opening win against the Philadelphia 76ers, they lost to the Toronto Raptors and eked out a two-point win against the lowly New York Knicks, before losing again Monday to the rebuilding Orlando Magic.

Stevens did say he thought the 93-90 loss was the “best offensively” the Celtics have played so far this year, which he called encouraging. However, on the other end of the court, he said the team didn’t provide “enough physical resistance defensively” at the start of the game and let the Magic set the tone.

After the game, Al Horford concurred that the Celtics are still “figuring it out.” Hayward, who told reporters he’s still dealing with ankle soreness, said they have “a lot of work to do.”

“I have no doubt we will figure it out, but definitely have a lot of work to do,” Hayward said.

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For his part, Stevens has been trying to lower the expectations for the Celtics since before the regular season started.

“We’re not as good as advertised right now,” he told NBC Sports Boston earlier this month.

And despite those proverbial advertisements touting the Celtics as potential championship contenders, Stevens has been consistent with that message.

“We can’t skip steps,” he told reporters in September. “We can’t talk about being a favorite. We can’t talk about being in the mix. We can’t talk about being a playoff team. We have to go back and earn all that.”

Even back in July, Stevens warned that if the team did skip steps, they could “be humbled very quickly.”

“At the end of the day, there’s a lot of good teams, there’s a lot of good players, and it’s about who plays the best,” he said. “We did a lot of good things last year but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen again. You have to make it happen again.”

The World Series begins tonight at 8:09 p.m. Here’s the latest from Boston.com ahead of Game 1.

A Fenway Park villain returns: The Red Sox and Dodgers haven’t played each other in the World Series for more than a century, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some history — and maybe a bit of bad blood — between the two teams on the field Tuesday. That’s because the Dodgers traded for shortstop Manny Machado, who clashed with the Red Sox as a member of the Baltimore Orioles and was responsible for the slide that injuryed Dustin Pedroia in 2017. Machado said Monday that it’s “old history.” We’ll see if the fans at Fenway Park agree. [The New York Times]

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Could the weather have a ‘chilling’ effect on the World Series?: With the first-pitch temperatures Tuesday and Wednesday expected to be in the 40s, The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier took a look at how Red Sox and Dodgers players approach the cold. Some, like Mookie Betts, bundle up. But then there’s those like Chris Sale who “refuse to bow to the elements” and wear short sleeves. At least it will be nice in Los Angeles. [The Boston Globe]

How the Boston Globe staff thinks the series will go: The Globe‘s baseball writers and sports columnists made their World Series predictions Monday. Most of them are feeling good about the Red Sox — but not all of them. [The Boston Globe]

As if the Hall of Fame wasn’t already enough: Larry Bird is getting his own museum, but unfortunately for Celtics fans it will be located in his home state of Indiana, a 15-and-a-half-hour drive from Boston. [Boston.com]

Um, OK: Chris Sale joked (he was joking, right?) over the weekend that his recent stomach illness was caused by a belly-button ring. And now, a local Faneuil Hall sports store is offering customers a 50 percent discount if they show their own belly-button ring. Boston at its finest. [WHDH]

TB12’s newest client: Tom Brady’s church of pliability has another high-profile convert. Nastia Liukin, the 28-year-old former gymnast and five-time Olympic gold medalist, stopped by the TB12 Sports Therapy Center for a workout last week and even sampled some of Brady’s branded electrolyte concentrate. Apparently, she’s a fan. [Boston.com]

Daily highlight: Come for the Mookie Betts interview, stay for Gordon Hayward’s first dunk as a Celtic.

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