Celtics

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.

Lederman: Celtics bench in need of repairs

Lederman: Celtics bench in need of repairs

The NBA trade deadline is a little more than two weeks away and despite the Celtics owning the best record in the Eastern Conference, they may need to think long and hard about making a move. 

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The Celtics bench unit is shooting 39.3 percent from the floor this season. Not only is that last in the NBA, it’s the sixth-lowest field-goal percentage for a bench unit the past 18 seasons. Their 49.1 effective-field-goal percentage is 29th in the NBA. Of the 160 teams that qualified for the playoffs the past 10 years, only two finished the regular season ranked that low in bench eFG%; and both of those teams lost in the first round.

Part of the problem for the Celtics is the inconsistent shooting of Terry Rozier. The third-year guard has shown flashes as a dependable scorer, but has been unable to avoid long shooting slumps so far in his career (he’s currently mired in a 10-for-41 slump over the past five games). Scary Terry is certainly capable of terrorizing (Terryrizing?) opponents; the Celtics are 20-4 when Rozier hits two or more three-point field goals this season. But that’s happened in just 24 of the 47 games he’s played this season.

You can argue that his defense makes up for the offensive struggles. The Celtics bench does have the second-best defensive rating in the NBA. But how much of that is due to Marcus Smart? And how valuable is a second unit that can defend but has a historically bad FG%? The Celtics are going to have to answer those questions before the Feb. 8 trade deadline. 

To be clear, I’m not suggesting the Celtics trade or replace Terry Rozier. They just need to improve their bench’s ability to make baskets, one way or another, if they want to be playing basketball in June. 

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WATCH: Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers

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WATCH: Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Lakers in Los Angeles. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 10 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview:  With Cavaliers in turmoil, Celtics need to take advantage

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

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