Marcus Morris free of minutes restriction; Al Horford hopes to play through knee/calf injury


Marcus Morris free of minutes restriction; Al Horford hopes to play through knee/calf injury

LONDON –  You knew the Celtics having a more spaced out schedule would help some players. Few will benefit more than Marcus Morris, who will play Thursday against Philadelphia without any minutes restriction.

The 6-foot-9 forward has been in and out of the Celtics lineup due to left knee soreness, but ample days between games — four on each side of Thursday — should serve him well.

“Hopefully the knee responds well; continue to move forward,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston.

And if so, Morris can step on the floor and just play his game without worrying about where he’s at minutes-wise. 

“This is my first year being minutes restricted,” said Morris, who added that he does get sped up some times in games.

When healthy, he has proven himself to a solid role player as a key reserve or as a starter. The Celtics are 10-1 when Morris opens with the first unit.

The news on the health front is good for Al Horford as well.

Horford missed Boston’s last game with a sore knee/calf injury, which isn’t expected to keep him out of Thursday’s game.

“The knee’s OK,” Horford said following today’s practice in London. “I was able to go through practice. There was still some discomfort there but I was able to practice. I was encouraged by that so I should be good to go.”
Horford still isn’t sure how the injury occurred.

“It’s like knee-calf area,” he said. “It’s something very different. It’s never happened to me before. But a couple days’ rest has been good for me. I just need to keep treating it; I hope to be able to go Thursday.”

Celtics look to get back on track at home vs Magic


Celtics look to get back on track at home vs Magic

BOSTON – Last season, the Boston Celtics were able to advance to the Eastern Conference finals in part because they had home court advantage in every playoff series before ultimately bowing out to a LeBron James-led Cleveland team.

The foundation for having home court advantage in the playoffs, lies in establishing an edge at home during the regular season.

Which is why Boston’s current two-game skid is indeed something for the Celtics to worry about.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens makes a point of keeping is team focused in the moment, never looking too far down the road or over their shoulder.

Well at the moment, his team needs to re-establish itself at home not only to improve upon their East-leading record, but also continue to stack up wins so that when the postseason arrives they will once again have home court advantage.

“It’s disappointing anytime to drop a game,” Stevens said. “But certainly, drop two in a row at home adds to that.”

While it’s certainly not ideal, Boston’s 18-7 record at home this season still ranks among the top teams in the East.

Still, there’s definitely room to grow on several fronts for Boston.

Winning at home?

That’s one of them. 

“At the end of the day, the reality is we’re not a 34-12 team by many metrics other than we figured out a way to win 34 out of 46 games,” Stevens said. “We have to be a lot better if we want to continue to move forward with this.”

Here are five under-the-radar story lines heading into today’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Orlando Magic.



Despite the record, the Celtics have not played very good basketball lately. And the bad games start with – you guess it – the way they open games. Boston has not won the first quarter since their Jan. 3 win over Cleveland. In fact, the Celtics have been outscored in nine of their last 16 quarters of play. 



Part of being an elite team involves doing more than just knocking off the best teams. It also requires handling the not-so-great clubs, something the Celtics have done a good job with this season. They come into today’s game against Orlando with an impressive 17-3 record against teams below-.500 teams this season.



We know the three-point shot is a key component to the Boston Celtics offensively, evident by them ranking sixth in the NBA this season with 31.5 taken per game. But relying too heavily on the 3-point shot has transformed Boston from an elite team, to one that’s just barely above-.500. 

Consider this: When the Celtics take more than 40 percent of their shots from 3-point range, they are just 8-6 this season. In their last two games – both losses - the Celtics took 45.1 percent of their shots from 3-point range.



You never plan on games being decided in the final minute or so of play, but the Celtics like their chances if the does come to that. This season, they have won 20 “clutch” games (those within five points in the final five minutes of play) this season which is tops in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Orlando Magic are at the near-opposite end of that spectrum, ranking 26th in the NBA with seven wins this season falling under the “clutch” category.



Aron Afflalo will not be with the Magic today as he serves the second of a two-game suspension for fighting Minnesota forward Nemanja Bjelica on a play which included Afflalo punching Bjelica in the head on Tuesday.


WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic


WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics host the 76ers at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview:  Celtics need to improve shooting

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

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