Celtics

Pierce provides spark in return

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Pierce provides spark in return

BOSTON The return of Paul Pierce was sure to provide a lift to the Boston Celtics' offense.

But as impressive as Pierce the scorer can be, it's his all-around game that sets him apart from the masses.

And it was that all-around game that helped propel the Celtics to a 96-85 win over the Detroit Pistons, the C's first victory of the season.

Pierce, who had missed the first three games with a right heel injury, had 12 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists while playing just under 23 minutes.

Having had one practice prior to playing on Friday, no one had any idea what to expect from Pierce against the winless Pistons (0-3).

"I was expecting to be me," Pierce said. "I don't settle for anything less. Doc Rivers wanted me to be aggressive and play the way I play. That's what I tried to do."

Indeed, Pierce's ability to hold his own defensively, help out on the boards and at times, become a scoring threat, was just what the struggling Celtics (1-3) needed.

"Having Paul back was a huge boost for us," said Kevin Garnett. "He gave everybody a little extra lift. When you see one of your best players out there . . . it was a great, emotional boost for us."

Rivers likes the spacing that having Pierce on the floor, provides his team.

"The space is so different," Rivers said. "I felt bad because I took Detroit head coach and former Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank out to dinner last night. He said, 'Is Paul playing? I said, 'No, there's no chance.' "

You could sense that Pierce was getting closer to returning to action sooner rather than later.

His workouts in recent days were picking up, with less and less soreness afterward.

When asked about how the heel felt following Friday's game, Pierce said, "The rest of my body is sore, more than anything; being I haven't had any physical contact or any up and down basketball in quite a while."

Even though Rivers had told Frank that Pierce wasn't playing, Frank wasn't caught by surprise in how Pierce performed despite limited prep time.

"Paul changes the game for them," Frank said. "Regardless, I know he's only practiced once this whole year, but you just know what he's capable of doing. He's an outstanding defender as well."

And it is that complete game that will only improve as Pierce continues to get back into the flow of playing regularly.

"It's going to take me a little time," Pierce said. "Just to get back into pretty good game shape; the shape that I want to be in to play at the level that I want to play at. It'll come."

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

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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.