Celtics

Morris plans to 'approach the game as a pro' starting or off bench

Morris plans to 'approach the game as a pro' starting or off bench

WALTHAM, Mass. – Marcus Morris was one of the last players to show up for the Boston Celtics’ training camp, which is the last thing someone new to a franchise wants.

Not only has it meant playing catch-up in terms of developing chemistry with his new teammates, but it has made it tougher for Morris to achieve what every player in the NBA wants which is to be a starter.

Morris, who was acquired this summer from Detroit in exchange for Avery Bradley, is going to play for the Celtics in the opener Tuesday at Cleveland.

MORE:

That’s a given.

But as a starter?

Most of his time since joining the Celtics after being acquitted of assault charges along with his twin brother Markieff earlier this month in Phoenix, has been spent with Boston’s second unit.

But in Boston’s 108-100 preseason win over Charlotte last week, Morris spent the final 4:27 of the second quarter playing with the Celtics’ projected starters – Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford and Jaylen Brown.

When the group stepped on the floor together, Boston had a 42-33 lead.

By the time halftime arrived, they had closed out the second quarter with a 15-5 run to lead 57-38.

“It was fun getting out there playing (with the first unit),” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “I’ve been practicing with the second team a lot so I’m not sure what’s going to happen. Either way, I have to approach the game as a pro; starting or coming off (the bench). I’d rather be starting, but I gotta do what’s best for the team whatever that’s gonna be.”

Heading into this fifth season as the Celtics head coach, Brad Stevens has not had a roster with this kind of depth or versatility.

Because of that, the Celtics may have starting lineups that are opponent-specific instead of a set starting five.

Boston played four preseason games and had a different starting lineup in each game, and yet still managed to win all four games.

Morris’ desire to be a starter makes sense considering he hasn’t come off the bench in a regular season game since March 9, 2015 against Golden State.

And at 6-foot-9 with the ability to play inside-outside basketball and defend most power forwards and still switch out from time to time on bigs and wing players, Morris’ versatility fits in well with the type of lineups that the Celtics are looking to find success with this season.

Plus, having Morris start at power forward would mean Al Horford shifting over to center.

Last season, the Celtics had quite a bit of success when Horford was playing in the middle and, because of Horford’s ability to stretch the floor, often led to better spacing for Horford’s teammates and opportunities for the 6-10 Horford to score.

“The way our game has changed, power forward and center are so much more interchangeable now,” Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “My approach to that is the same now as it’s always been; I’ll do whatever has to be done in order to help our team win games.”

And while Morris’ desire to remain a starter is undeniable, he understands circumstances are such that coming off the bench may be the best thing for him and the Celtics right now.

“I did miss training camp and (most of the) preseason,” Morris said.

But by no means would he be resigned to the idea that he’ll be a key reserve all season.

“I would just work my way back into it,” he said. “If I’m playing, I sure hope I do start. But that’s a decision that he (head coach Brad Stevens) makes. However it is, I’m gonna be a pro and approach the game the same way and do what my team needs me to do, to win.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

The Boston Celtics trail by double digits. The Celtics rally to make it relatively close by halftime. Boston continues to gain ground in the third, pull it out in the fourth.

Rinse. Recycle. Repeat.

That has been the Celtics’ mantra this season, with the latest chapter in their comeback narrative being a 110-99 win at Atlanta.

“We need to put an emphasis on playing with space and getting the ball to the other side of the floor,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It just stuck too much early on. We were staring at some post-ups that if we got it to the other side, maybe you could take advantage of.”

MORE:

Boston (15-2) fell behind by as many as 16 points against the Hawks (3-13), the second straight game the Celtics have rallied from a double-digit deficit.

In Boston’s 92-88 win over Golden State on Thursday, the Celtics fell behind by as many as 17 before rallying for their most impressive win of the season.

That said, it still shouldn’t take away from what happened on Saturday against an Atlanta team that despite their record, has shown signs of playing better in their recent games.

Players are aware of the penchant they’ve shown thus far for falling behind only to mount a furious comeback for the win.

“We don’t try to (go down early),” said Kyrie Irving following Saturday’s win which extended their winning streak to 15 straight which is the fifth-longest streak in franchise history. “Some teams, they go on runs and whether that be us giving up some easy ones or giving up some turnovers or doing things we can correct. When we do correct them, it turns into a different game.”

And that is what makes this stretch of play so impressive.

The Celtics have not played a full game; instead they have had stretches of good play that have often masked their mistakes early in the game.

That’s why head coach Brad Stevens, obviously pleased with the team’s success, knows as well as anyone that his team has to become more consistent in their play if they are to get the most out of these wins and continue to build off of them and achieve their ultimate goal – getting back to the NBA Finals.

“We’re going to keep playing,” Stevens said. “But the biggest thing is, we can’t keep digging these holes.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

When it comes to the top backcourts in the NBA, you seldom hear about Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown.

That may soon be changing if they have more games like the one they delivered on Saturday as Boston put together a solid second half to pull away from the Atlanta Hawks, 110-99.

Irving had a game-high 30 points which was his second game with at least 30 points scored – both against Atlanta.

MORE:

And Brown, who had a strong 22-point performance in Boston’s win over Golden State on Thursday, was even better against the Hawks in tallying a career-high 27 points.

We all know about Irving who has established himself as one of the NBA’s top guards.

But is Brown on the way?

One thing Brown won’t have to develop going forward is, confidence.

He has long maintained that he believes he’ll be among the best in the league. It’s just a matter of him performing at a high level at both ends of the floor, consistently.

“I’ve always had that confidence, I can play with the best in the world,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin following the win over Atlanta which extended Boston’s winning streak to 15 in a row. “It’s just a matter of coming out, doing it. My teammates found me tonight. We had a good team win tonight.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-99 win at Atlanta which extended the Celtics’ winning streak to 15 in a row which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.

 

STARS

Jaylen Brown

Back in his home state of Georgia, Jaylen Brown delivered another monster game for the Celtics by scoring a career-high 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting with four 3-pointers.

Kyrie Irving

Irving had his most efficient game this season for the Celtics, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting to go with four rebounds and five assists.

Dennis Schroder

Atlanta’s best scorer delivering a strong 23-point, 9-assist performance for the Hawks.

 

STUDS

Jayson Tatum

He only had 14 points, but they all came in the third quarter and they included a few crowd-quieting dunks.

John Collins

He came into the league with the reputation of being a high motor player, and he has not disappointed. His hustle and energy led to him tallying 18 points and seven rebounds.

Marcus Morris

When the offense struggled mightily in the first half, it was Morris’ scoring that kept them within striking distance. He finished with 14 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter.

Kent Bazemore

He was Atlanta’s number two scoring option most of the night, and finished with 19 points.

 

DUDS

Boston’s first quarter defense

The Celtics can’t keep digging themselves these early holes, expecting they will turn it on and find a way to climb out of them. The Hawks led 35-20, fueled in large part by shooting 64.7 percent (11-for-17) in addition to out-rebounding Boston 8-6.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE