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.

Have Celtics solved their second-quarter problem?

Have Celtics solved their second-quarter problem?

Let’s face it.

The second quarter has been a major problem for the Celtics this season.

And then there’s Friday night in a 110-98 victory in Detroit, where the Celtics outscored the Pistons 38-21 in the second to take control of the game.

The 38 points tied a season-high for second-quarter scoring and the +17 scoring margin in the quarter was their best in a second quarter this season.

Boston’s point differential for the season speaks to how, while the Celtics don’t score a ton of points, their defense allows them to have a bit of a scoring cushion most nights.

For the season, Boston’s point differential of +3.7 ranks fourth in the league behind Houston (+8.9), Toronto (+8.3) and Golden State (+8.1).

Still, if you hone in on what the Celtics do in the second quarter...it’s not pretty.

Their scoring differential this season in the second quarter is -1.1, which ranks in the bottom 10 in the NBA (24th specifically).

Here are five under-the-radar storylines you might not be thinking about heading into tonight’s game between the Celtics and Knicks as they close out their regular-season series (Boston leads, 2-1):

EXCLUSIVE CLUB


With the victory in Detroit, the Celtics won their 20th road game of the season. The victory puts them in select company in the NBA. Only Golden State (22-7) and Houston (21-7) have more road wins or a better road record than the Celtics (20-8).

ARON BAYNES


Seeing Aron Baynes head to the bench and soon after towards the locker room with an elbow injury was not a good look. Following the win at Detroit, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Baynes had not been ruled out from playing tonight. Boston has been atop the NBA most of this season defensively and the play of Baynes has been critical to that success. Prior to the Pistons game, Boston’s defensive rating when Baynes was on the floor was 96.4. When he was not playing, it ballooned to 103.5.

MICHAEL BEASLEY


You always have to be on guard when Beasley’s in the building. While his season numbers may suggest he’s a role player coming off the bench who can maybe score a little, don’t be fooled. Beasley is a cold-blooded scoring assassin who can kill a defense with his wide array of scoring techniques. The Celtics saw this up close earlier this season when Beasley dropped a season-high 32 points the Knicks' 102-93 victory over Boston on Dec. 21.

FEBRUARY STRUGGLES


Boston can’t wait to flip the calendar and get on to March, because February has been brutal for the defense. In the four previous months this season, Boston’s defensive rating always ranked among the top-10 each month. But in February, Boston’s defensive rating of 108.6 currently ranks 16th in the NBA. There’s still time to improve upon that before the month is over, but February is likely to go down as Boston’s worst month defensively this season.

CELTICS-KNICKS HISTORY


When it comes to history, Boston and New York share more than just being among the original teams when the NBA formed in 1946 (In 1946, the NBA had a different name, the Basketball Association of America. Following its third season, the BAA would merge with the National Basketball League to form what is now known as the NBA). They are also the only teams from the league’s inception that did not disband for a period of time, or move to another city.  

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE


 

WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks

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WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. New York Knicks

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 6:30  p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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