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.

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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.”

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Gordon Hayward already back on the court and draining threes

hayward-rehab-122117.png

Gordon Hayward already back on the court and draining threes

Gordon Hayward had just about the most horrific debut any player could imagine.

We won't get into the details again, but it left many wondering the Celtics would even recover emotionally to compete in the East.

Now it's clear they are more than prepared to make some noise in the playoffs.

The most important recovery is Hayward's and tonight fans scrolled through social media to see encouraging progress.

Still can’t beat me... 🤷🏻‍♀️

A post shared by Robyn Hayward (@robynmhayward) on

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Irving: Struggling Celtics must 'weather the storm'

Irving: Struggling Celtics must 'weather the storm'

BOSTON – While it’s too soon to hit the panic button on the Boston Celtics’ season, Sunday’s 103-95 loss to Orlando is disturbing on multiple fronts. 

For starters, the Magic (14-32) have been in the NBA basement most of the season, so for them to see the light towards victory, on the road nonetheless, against the Celtics is bothersome for the Green Team. 

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Boston came into Sunday’s game with an impressive 17-3 record against teams with a sub-.500 record.

Making matters even worst, it was Boston’s third straight loss – a first for the Celtics this season - with all three defeats coming at the TD Garden. 

Celtics big man Al Horford said the team needs a “Fight for our lives’” mentality heading into Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. 

While no one wants to lose game, having to overcome some hurdles along the journey isn’t always a bad thing.

“Gotta have some adversity,” said Kyrie Irving who led all scorers with 40 points - the second time he has reached the 40-point plateau this season (47 points, Nov. 20 at Dallas). “We need it as a team. There’s a lot more adversity down the road. You have to be able to weather the storm no matter what.”

Aside from Gordon Hayward’s dislocated ankle injury in the season-opener, dropping three straight is probably the biggest adversity the Celtics have had this season. 

And this latest setback came against an Orlando franchise that the Celtics have absolutely owned at home. 

Prior to Sunday’s loss, Boston had not lost to the Magic at home since Feb. 7, 2010 with 14 straight wins.

"We didn't underestimate them," said Boston's Jaylen Brown who had 17 points. "They've been playing a lot better than they've been playing all year."

Al Horford echoed similar sentiments.

“You can’t underestimate any team,” Horford said. “I don’t think we necessarily did, but we need to have that sense of urgency like we started the game and be able to hold that throughout the game. That’s important.”

So is making the most of transition scoring opportunities which was an area of play in which the Celtics struggled mightily all game. 

Boston wound up with six, fast-break points on just 3-for-9 shooting. 

“We had some transition opportunities that we didn’t covert,” acknowledged Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. 

Failing to capitalize on those easy scoring opportunities came back to hurt Boston and in hindsight, proved to be one of the key differences in the game’s outcome. 

“Whether you’re doing things at an optimum level as you would like, that’s part of the game of learning one another,” Irving said. “Being able to figure out how to respond from that. Us as a group, we’ve come together in the last four months, five months, it’s new. We need to hit something like this in order for us to grow. It’s part of the game; part of being on a team, part of being a professional. Any team, any environment, you have to have stuff like this where you have to figure it out.”

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