Celtics

Trial over, Morris joins Celtics at last . . . to everyone's delight

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Trial over, Morris joins Celtics at last . . . to everyone's delight

WALTHAM -- The wait is finally over for Marcus Morris, who joined his new team for the first time on Thursday. 

Marcus Morris along with his twin brother Markieff were both acquitted of assault charges on Tuesday, stemming from a January 2015 incident in Phoenix. 
 
Thursday was the first time this season Morris was able to practice with his new teammates. 
 
Morris said it’s “a big relief” to have this finally behind him.
 
“For a second, I felt like it was killing my character,” Morris told reporters on Thursday. “For a lot of people that don’t know me, just to get acquitted of everything . . . now being a Boston Celtic, that’s all I’m looking forward to.”
 
The feeling is mutual. 
 
“He’s going to be a big part of the team this year,” said Mike Zarren, Boston’s assistant general manager. “We’re happy to have him back here.”
 
Even though Morris has just one practice under his belt, coach Brad Stevens said the 6-foot-9 forward will play on Friday at Philadelphia, which is Morris’ hometown. 
 
“I’ll see how he feels. This was his first practice; it was a hard practice,” Stevens said. “He also came in at nine in the morning and went through a series of drills with our younger, younger players. I thought he had a good day.”
 
And while he hasn’t been with the team very long, Stevens was pleased at how well he seemed to pick up things on Thursday. 
 
“You can tell a guy that’s played in the league for a long time; been coached really well at every level,” Stevens said. “We tried to keep him as up to speed over the last 10 days or so. I thought he transitioned pretty smoothly.”
 
Morris added: “Brad’s done a great job of sending guys down to kind of put me through the offensive and defensive principles.”
 
And it is the latter -- defense -- that should get Morris on the floor sooner rather than later, potentially as a starter.
 
“He played a large amount at the three (small forward) for Detroit,” Stevens said. “He’ll play a much bigger amount at the four (power forward) for us.”
 
Despite being a bit undersized to play power forward, the Celtics have no major concerns with putting him there. 
 
“Right off the bat, the things that stand out for him is versatility, physicalness, an element of toughness, a guy that can switch and guard different positions,” said Celtics assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry. “Also, being able to help you rebound on the defensive glass. Those things stand out right from the start.”
 
If Morris eventually becomes a starter, Al Horford would slide over to the center position while the rest of the starting five would consist of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and either Jaylen Brown or Marcus Smart. 
 
Boston ranked 12th in the NBA in defense last season, but is trying to fill huge voids left by trading away Avery Bradley (to Detroit for Morris) and Jae Crowder (Cleveland).
 
But the addition of Morris will help soften that blow now that his court case is in the past and his future with the Celtics, is about to start.
 
“It was very difficult,” Morris said of not being able to be with the team the first few weeks of training camp. “I love playing basketball. Just for me to come to a new place and not be able to be one of the first guys there, just learning . . . it’s a little though but that’s behind me. I’m ready to play, ready to get going.”

Report: Celtics sign veteran forward Jarelle Eddie

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Report: Celtics sign veteran forward Jarelle Eddie

The name Jarelle Eddie may not be familiar to you, but he's spent some time with the Celtics.

Four days, to be precise, just prior to the start of the 2014-15 season. He was signed on Oct. 23, right after being waived by the Atlanta Hawks out of training camp, and then released on Oct. 27.

But now he's back . . . 

Eddie, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound small forward, went undrafted after playing four seasons at Virginia Tech. He's bounced from team to team over the last four years, and actually got into 26 games with the Wizards in 2015-16.

Here's a look at some of his most recent work, with the G League's Windy City Bulls:

Celtics need to find No. 2 scorer behind Irving

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Celtics need to find No. 2 scorer behind Irving

BOSTON -- Everyone knows Kyrie Irving’s value to the Celtics is extremely high.
 
But it really hits home on those nights when he’s not in the lineup, as was the case in Boston’s 89-80 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday.
 
Irving didn't play due to a sore left shoulder.He's carried the load offensively for most of this season for a team that has the best record in the Eastern Conference, so it's not surprising the Celts scored the fewest number of points they've scored in any game this year.
 
But it highlights the need for the Celtics to develop a number 2 scorer who can, when needed, step into the more prominent role as the team’s go-to guy.
 
Boston has good players, but none have elevated their play to that of being the next-best scoring option to Irving.
 
Al Horford is a four-time All-Star (with a fifth on the way  this year), but he has never been a player you can turn to for consistent, big-time scoring. That’s because his game is deeply rooted in getting others involved and playing high-level defense.
 
Jaylen Brown has the right mindset most nights, but his all-around game offensively is still evolving. And while he is the team’s number two scorer at 14.2 points per game, that average falls well short of what the No. 2 scorer on most teams isdoing offensively. In fact, Atlanta, Indiana and Sacramento are the only teams in the NBA whose No. 2 scorer has a lower average than Brown.
 
Then there’s Jayson Tatum, a player who has shown all the early stages of superstar-itis. But as talented as he is, the 19-year-old Tatum is similar to Brown from the standpoint of not being ready to emerge as the team’s second-best scorer.
 
“That’s why Gordon (Hayward) was such a good signing for them,” an NBA scout texted NBC Sports Boston. “He gave them a legitimate, high-level second scorer who on some nights would be your best scorer or your best player.”
 
Hayward suffered a dislocated left ankle injury in Boston’s season-opener, and is expected to miss the remainder of this season.
 
Irving’s injury is nowhere close to being that serious. In fact, there’s a very good chance that he will be back in the lineup Sunday when the Celtics host the Orlando Magic.
 
But that doesn’t make up for the team’s lack of a second scoring option.
 
Here are five takeaways from Boston’s 89-80 loss to Philadelphia.
 
 

REBOUNDING

Work on the glass is always going to be a challenge of sorts for the Boston Celtics, making that early run of strong board games a faint memory. Because what we saw against the Sixers was more along the lines of what we’re accustomed to seeing out of the Celtics when it comes to rebounding. The Sixers decisively won the battle on the glass 41-31, serving as a reminder that the narrative surrounding this team when it comes to rebounding hasn’t changed a bit.

TURNOVERS

Brad Stevens described his team’s offense against Philadelphia as being “sloppy” and, truth of the matter, he was being kind. They were hot mess on so many levels against the Sixers. Credit Philly for having a game plan defensively that worked really, for all but the final few minutes of play. No facet of play better illustrated this than the 19 turnovers committed by Boston, which led to 15 points. It’s not the points scored by the Sixers that were the big problem. It’s the fact that those turnovers meant fewer opportunities to score which is the last thing a team without Kyrie Irving needed.

JAYSON TATUM

Against New Orleans, he didn’t take enough shots. And last night against Philadelphia, he didn’t make the ones he usually does. I wouldn’t call what Tatum is going through now hitting the rookie wall. Because he has played so much already, teams have plenty of film and have definitely adjusted the way they have defended him. Now it’s on him to find other ways to impact the game offensively that may not necessarily be his first or second go-to move. He had some nice off-the-dribble moves against the Sixers, finishing with 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Tatum needs to continue ratcheting up his aggression at both ends of the floor, which we saw some of that against the Sixers. Now he just needs to keep it going.

SHANE LARKIN

It was just one game, so it would be foolish to get too excited about Shane Larkin’s play against Philadelphia. But there was a lot to like about how he came off the bench and provided some energy and a spark to a team that seemed to be going through the motions. He had eight points on 3-for-6 shooting but more important, he was really aggressive with his drives and decision-making, which is the kind of performance Boston needs others beside Larkin to bring to the floor when their number is called.

JOEL EMBIID

For all that went Philly’s way on Thursday, you still have to give a great deal of credit to Joel Embiid for his play at both ends of the floor. Boston could not stop him on the block or from 15 or so feet out, as he lit the Celtics up for 26 points on 10-for-19 shooting along with 16 rebounds and six assists. It was the second straight game Boston had been dominated by an opposing big man, raising more concerns among Celtics Nation that Boston needs to address its frontcourt by adding another big between now and the playoffs.

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