Celtics

Morris working on conditioning before making Celtics debut

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Morris working on conditioning before making Celtics debut

WALTHAM, Mass. – The debut of Marcus Morris with the Boston Celtics may once again be delayed. 

Morris, who joined the team on Friday, did not play in Boston’s 110-102 win at Philadelphia on Saturday, and it’s still up in the air as to whether he will see action against the Sixers when they invade the TD Garden for a Monday night matchup against the Celtics. 

Morris, who said he’s still working to improve his conditioning, said no decision has been made as to whether he’ll play on Monday. 

“I didn’t want to miss the first game,” said Morris, adding that he needs to shed seven pounds. “It’s about being smart, protecting my body. It’s about being ready for Cleveland on the 17th.”

Boston plays seven of its first 11 games on the road, which includes the season-opener at Cleveland on Oct. 17.

And while it’s unclear exactly what Morris’ role will be once he’s physically ready to play, it sounds like he will be in the starting lineup. 

“I’ll be playing mostly four (power forward), something new to me,” said Morris who played primarily small forward for the Detroit Pistons last season. “Playing around a great group of guys, starting at the four, it should be great.”

In the first two preseason games, Boston has started its Big Three of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, along with Jaylen Brown. Filling in as the fifth starter was Aron Baynes in Boston's first preseason game, and rookie Jayson Tatum in their second.

Morris along with his twin brother Markieff (he plays for the Washington Wizards) were both acquitted of assault charges last week, which allowed to rejoin their respective teams and start preparing for the upcoming NBA season.

Following practice on Sunday, Morris spent some time with the Celtics assistant coaches as well as the training staff working on additional conditioning as well as some mid-range shooting that eventually extended out past the 3-point line. 

When the Celtics traded for Morris, it was fueled in large part to Boston needing to create enough salary cap space in order to complete their signing of Gordon Hayward. 

But this deal was also made to address Boston’s need to increase its versatility in the frontcourt.

Having the talent to be a reliable mid-range shooter as well as one who can extend the defense by connecting from 3-point range, were among the reasons why the Celtics were open to parting ways with all-NBA defender Avery Bradley for Morris. 

Knowing the expectations for both the Celtics and his role with the team are high, Morris is eager to get on the floor and play. 

“It’s killing me,” he said. “I really want to play. I still feel I have a lot to prove in this league. I want to help my team.”

But Morris has been in the NBA long enough to know that getting on the floor before his body is ready for the rigors of an NBA slate of games, it’s risky. 

“It’s about being smart, protecting my body,” he said.

Streak reveals depth even Celtics didn't know they had

Streak reveals depth even Celtics didn't know they had

Coaches in all sports will tell you that winning is not easy.
 
Making the Celtics’ 16-game winning streak even more impressive is that a number of the victories have involved Boston turning to some unlikely sources of production.

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And that has provided a glimpse into a franchise that’s getting the best of both worlds: quality play from its core group while developing reserves who have contributed to the team reeling off 16 straight wins in a variety of ways.
 
Because coach Brad Stevens has gone deeper into his bench this season than past years, it has created a roster with minutes more evenly distributed and with that, less wear and tear on the bodies of key players.
 
And while this team is led by Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, there has been at least one other Celtic to emerge as a top-three performer every night...and often it’s not the same player.
 
“Much more unpredictable now,” a league executive texted to NBC Sports Boston. “That number three guy, is it [Jaylen] Brown? [Jayson] Tatum? Sometimes it’s Marcus [Smart]. You don’t know who it’s going to be because a lot of times, I don’t think they [Celtics] know who it will be. It’s why they’re so good, man.”
 
Here are five under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game in Miami with the Celtics trying to push their winning streak to 17:

KYRIE FOR MVP
It’s one thing for the home crowd to get into the ‘M-V-P’ chants when you’re at the free-throw line. But it’s a completely different matter when those same cheers are being heard on the road. That’s where Irving was following the 110-102 overtime win at Dallas, a game in which Irving dropped 47 points, 10 in overtime. It’ll be interesting to see if another strong game by Irving will lead to another serenading of ‘M-V-P’ chants for the most dominant player on the team with the league’s best record.


 
TURNING DOWN THE HEAT
The streak is the talk of the NBA right now, but streaking was going to be part of the conversation leading up to tonight’s game regardless. The Celtics come into tonight’s game having won eight in a row over the Heat, their longest current winning streak over any team. Boston has dominated this matchup for years, posting a 70-44 record all-time against Miami in the regular season.
 

DUKE CONNECTION
College basketball just kicked off and Duke is once again among the game’s top teams, a school that consistently produces NBA talent at a relatively high level. That’ll be very apparent tonight when you consider this Boston-Miami matchup features three players (Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum for Boston, Justise Winslow for Miami) from Duke who will all be in the starting lineup and a fourth (Boston’s Semi Ojeleye) who attended Duke but later transferred to SMU.


 
JUSTISE WINSLOW
Every front-office executive has that one player they tried – and failed – to acquire that, in hindsight, not getting him was a really good thing. Winslow is that guy for the Celtics. While he hasn’t been necessarily a bust, his impact at this level hasn’t been enough to have warranted all the assets Boston was willing to part with on draft night in order to move up and select him. Still, he’s healthy now and starting to play better which is evident by his numbers in most offensive categories on the rise, while his defense has been relatively solid.
 

THREE-POINTERS
The Heat have made the 3-point shot a much bigger part of their offense this season, evident by Miami ranking seventh in the league in 3-point makes (11.2) this season. In Boston, one of the keys to their top-ranked defense has been their length, which has come in real handy defending the 3-pointer. In fact, Boston has limited opponents to just 32.1 percent shooting on 3’s this season, which ranks third in the league.

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Heat in Miami. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: Will Celtics be drained by emotional comeback win Monday in Dallas?

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

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