Can the Celtics close it out?


Can the Celtics close it out?

Tonight in Atlanta, the Celtics have a chance to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

At times this season, that accomplishment alone felt nearly impossible, and was seen by some, if not all of us, as a best case scenario for a suddenly deteriorated team.

These days, we look at the second round as the tip of the iceberg. Even if the C's still aren't a super serious threat to bring home Banner 18, they're sure going to put up a fight. And there's not a team in this conference, or the entire league, who would feel comfortable drawing Boston in a seven-game series.

But, before we can talk about the second round, the Celtics have to get there. Which brings us back to tonight, to Boston's close out game against a Hawks team that's just asking for a beating.

Win or lose, the C's will still be in a great position to eventually advance, but as I said earlier today, the time is now to deliver the death blow.

However, looking back on this team's history, finding the killer instinct might not be so easy.

Believe it or not, since this core got together in the summer of 2007, the Celtics are a surprising 8-11 in close out situations.

They've gone into 19 games with a chance to close things out, and 58 percent of the time, they've come up short.

More often than not, the C's had built a big enough cushion to absorb the loss and bounce back to take care of business, and like I said, it's fair to assume that that's what will happen if KG and Co. blow this chance tonight.

But from here on out, they'll be hard-pressed to find a better opportunity to end things early and earn some well-deserved (and much-needed) rest.

The ball goes up 8.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Marcus Morris targeting Oct. 30 game vs. Spurs as date for Celtics debut


Marcus Morris targeting Oct. 30 game vs. Spurs as date for Celtics debut

WALTHAM -- It appears Marcus Morris’ debut for the Celtics will be when they host the San Antonio Spurs on Oct. 30.
The 6-foot-9 forward confirmed to reporters on Monday that, for now, that’s the target date.
Morris spent time after practice playing some one-one-one against rookie Jayson Tatum.
“I’m trying to push on it a little more,” he said. “Felt pretty good beating the rook’s ass one-on-one.”
The addition of Morris to the lineup can’t come soon enough for the Celtics (1-2).  They have already lost Gordon Hayward (ankle) for the season, and Marcus Smart (ankle) missed Friday’s win over Philadelphia. Smart said he would probably be in uniform for Tuesday’s game against the New York Knicks. 
Those injuries have forced the Celtics to dig deeper into their roster, resulting in several first-year players seeing action. 
Having a veteran like Morris on the floor would bode well for the Celts in their quest to remain among the better teams in the East this season. 
Morris, who went through the non-contact portion of practice on Monday, joined the Celtics on Oct. 5, shortly after he and his brother Markieff (who plays for Washington) were acquitted of assault charges involving an incident in Phoenix in January of 2015. He appeared in one preseason game, scoring seven points on 3-for-6 shooting from the field.

Coach Brad Stevens said Morris was having some knee discomfort when he showed up for training camp. That, combined with showing up late to training camp because of his court case in Phoenix, resulted in him not having the level of conditioning he’s used to at the start of training camp. 
“It’s not that I’m in bad shape,” he told NBC Sports Boston earlier. “It’s just that I’m not where I expect myself to be conditioning-wise, right now.”
Morris echoed similar sentiments on Monday. 
“I’m in great condition,” he said. “I just want to be a little better. My conditioning has never been the problem. It’s the soreness in my [left] knee. It’s gotten a lot better over the past 10 days, so I feel I can play now. But be cautious because it’s a long season.”
Morris was acquired in the summer by Boston from Detroit, in exchange for Avery Bradley. The move was done to not only ensure there was enough salary cap space to sign then-free agent Gordon Hayward, but also for the Celtics to add a versatile player who can play both forward positions.