BOSTON -- Marcus Morris has been bothered by left knee soreness that continues to limit his availability for the Celtics.
But as much as it hurts Morris to not be able to play with his teammates, he knows all too well just how blessed he is in life.
Morris was among the C's players participating Thursday in the team's annual trip to Boston Children's Hospital, where they put quite a few smiles on the faces of children who -- as Morris and others were quick to acknowledge -- are dealing with real challenges and adversity that trump any bumps, bruises and setbacks on the basketball court they might be experiencing.
"For us to get a chance to come over for an afternoon, it's something that . . . it's one of my favorite places to be," said coach Brad Stevens. "Our team would echo that."
Especially Morris, who, along with his twin brother Markieff Morris, recently spent about $6,000 to pay off the remaining balance on gifts put on layaway at a Walmart in their hometown of Philadelphia.
"It's the least I can do," Morris told NBC Sports Boston. "My mom, she's got a big heart, just trying to find something different to do. I remember when I was a kid, we used to have so much stuff on layaway and we would get it off like, two days before Christmas. So, I just tried to surprise some people, take care of some layaways."
But as we've seen in the past with the Celtics and Boston Children's Hospital, the giving of their time to sit and talk with young patients, share stories and -- in the case of Marcus Smart -- develop life-long bonds with patients, is priceless.
In October, Smart was named the recipient of the New England Baptist Hospital's Community Champions Award in part for the time he has spent at local hospitals that have formed friendships that remain just as strong today.
During his acceptance speech, he brought the packed capacity crowd to near tears detailing his involvement with ill family members and how that has shaped his interactions and friendships with some of the hospitalized youngsters.
For Smart, whose older brother Todd died of cancer in 2004, there's a connection that goes beyond the holiday season that he feels when gets a chance to spend time with the kids at Boston Children's Hospital and their family members.
"I have a special connection with these kids here," Smart acknowledged. "Growing up, I went through what some of these kids go through and their families. I understand . . . it's hard to open up to somebody. I know for the kids, it means a lot for us to be here."
Although Jayson Tatum is only a rookie, he said today was his second trip visiting the hospital as a Celtic, a reminder that this is part of what being a member of this organization is all about.
"I think it's great that we use our platform, to spend time with these kids to take their minds off of what they're going through" Tatum said. "Even for a couple of hours."
In an interview with Vice Sports, retired NBA star Kevin Garnett said that the Celtics and Cavaliers are set to become must-see TV.
Garnett, who won the lone NBA title of his career with the Celtics in 2008, said he is impressed by how Boston has responded to the loss of Gordon Hayward in the season opener. The C’s sit first in the Eastern Conference with a 24-6 record, while Cleveland sits second at 20-8.
“When you see how they’ve rallied around Hayward’s injury and been able to put games together, hell yeah they’re gonna be a force to be reckoned with in the end, and I think it’s gonna be Cleveland and Boston in the Conference Finals to be able to dictate who represents the East,” Garnett said of the Celtics. “And I think it’s gonna be one to where it’s unprecedented. And I don’t think we can all guess. I think it’s just gonna be one where we gotta sit back and enjoy it.
“But I’m not shocked. I’m very proud because I come from that same pedigree...I like how that team is built up. Obviously the head of the snake is Kyrie, and he’s leading them by example and I love it, and the dynamic seems to be cool, but I love more the progression of the younger guys, having a chance to play in real games, real experiences. No practice will ever give you that, so the fact that they’re growing up before our eyes is something special and I think we all need to have our eyes pinned to the television and to the season, with their progression”
The Cavs beat the C’s in the season opener, which remains the lone meeting between the teams this season. They’ll next face each other Jan. 3 at TD Garden.
BOSTON – The Celtics are in the process of putting together a day-to-day plan for Marcus Morris who has missed four of Boston’s past five games due to left knee soreness.
“We’re still working on that, on a timetable,” Danny Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show. “Marcus is going to be playing periodically. I don’t think he’s going to be shut down for a long period of time. I do anticipate him playing some through this process. How much that is, I’m not quite sure yet.”
Morris’ has missed 14 games, which is almost as many as he has played in (16) this season.
More testing will be done to get a better feel for the extent of Morris’ injury, which kept him out for the first eight games of the season.
If it’s determined that Morris will be out for an extended period of time, the Celtics have a few options it can pursue.
Among the most likely will be the $8.4 million disabled player exception they received following Gordon Hayward’s dislocated left ankle injury on Oct. 17.
Ainge said there’s always motivation to use the exception but currently “there’s nothing that really excites us.
He added, “the reason we haven’t used it is, we need to be careful with it because we don’t know what injuries may happen over this next stretch. That could be important for us, heading into the late season and into the playoffs and if our roster changes if somebody’s not healthy at a particular position.”
And Ainge made it clear that if they were to use it, they wouldn’t use it on a player to just fill a roster spot and provide depth.
“It’s justified we use it anytime if we feel we have a good use of it,” Ainge said. “If we find something we’re excited about, a player that can really help us as opposed to somebody who can help us get through a rough patch that’s not gonna play for us come playoff time. I’m not really interested in using it for that right now.”