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Markieff Morris returns to Wizards, is still talking trash about the Celtics

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Markieff Morris returns to Wizards, is still talking trash about the Celtics

After missing the first two weeks of training camp and the preseason, Markieff Morris walked into Capital One Arena on Thursday following a month that featured the birth of his first child, an acquittal of a three-year legal case and sports hernia surgery. Though much had changed in his life recently, his return brought familiarity for a Wizards team that often boasts of their commitment to continuity. Their starting power forward, a man who refers to himself as the team's enforcer, is officially back.

Morris remains sidelined after surgery, hoping to ramp his rehab up to light shooting work in the coming days. But his mere presence is something the Wizards were waiting for, knowing he can still make an impact in a leadership role.

"He looks great, feels great. It's good to have him back," head coach Scott Brooks said. "Our guys are excited to see him."

As mentioned above, there was a lot to catch up on with Morris. As for the surgery, he said his abdominal wall was repaired. He didn't start feeling discomfort until late in the offseason when his preseason workouts were intensified. He remains weeks to a month away from returning, but is excited to be back with his teammates. 

Morris believes he can still help out despite not being in the actual games.

"I will still talk a little s*** to the other team," he said in typical Morris fashion. "That's going to be the most important thing, letting those guys know I have their back regardless of whether I'm in the game or not."

[RELATED: MORRIS SAYS WIZARDS-CELTICS RIVALRY SHOULD CONTINUE]

Morris is of course thrilled to have the legal case behind him. Both he and his twin brother Marcus were acquitted of allegations they jumped a man at an exhibition basketball game. Morris says he was confident the whole time they would get off and "be victorious."

On top of all that going on, Morris' daughter Jyzelle was born in early September. He is still getting used to the lifestyle change.

"It's funny that I have a daughter now. It doesn't really hit you until you're waking up every morning or staying up all night to care for all her needs. She's beautiful and I love her to death," he said.

Morris also offered some additional thoughts on the Wizards-Celtics rivalry now that his brother Marcus plays in Boston. Markieff spoke on the matter in August, but this time was asked about his personal feud with Al Horford. Morris and Horford became enemies during the second round playoff series between the Wizards and Celtics this past spring after Horford undercut Morris on a shot in Game 1, injuring his ankle.

"S***, I'm still gonna kick his ass. We've still got that rivalry," Morris said.

Even so, Morris does think things will be changed now that his brother is in Boston and much of the Celtics' roster has been turned over.

"Ever since that trade, it's kind of felt a little different. Not only with him being traded, but with [Isaiah Thomas] and [Jae] Crowder and all those guys. It feels a little different," he said.

The rivalry may be different, but Morris remains his quotable self.

[RELATED: HOW WILL KYRIE IRVING AFFECT THE WIZARDS-CELTICS RIVALRY?]

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After getting little rest during All-Star break, Bradley Beal aims to be smart in second half

After getting little rest during All-Star break, Bradley Beal aims to be smart in second half

If anyone on the Wizards deserves some time off to rest it's Bradley Beal, who currently ranks fifth in the NBA in total minutes played. While his teammates were off on vacation, many of them at relaxing beaches far away, Beal was making appearance after appearance in Los Angeles as part of All-Star weekend.

The one drawback of Beal being selected as an All-Star and a contestant in the three-point contest was that he got little rest in the past week. He only made it one round in the three-point contest and played 16 minutes in the All-Star Game, but all of it was enough to soak up much of the free time he's used to getting this time of the year.

"Not as much as I needed to," Beal said when asked if he got any rest over the break. "I guess that's one of the downfalls of being an All-Star."

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

The workload has really added up for Beal. He leads the Wizards in minutes (36.4/g) and is one of two players on the team who hasn't missed a game all season.

Beal did have Monday and Tuesday off, but that was after a crosscountry flight and a whirlwind of a weekend. He called the media and sponsorship appearances "overwhelming." Many All-Stars have been there before and know what to expect, but Beal was a first-time participant.

Beal and the Wizards will be given no breaks with their upcoming schedule. They have four back-to-back sets in the next three weeks and begin with a stretch of five games in seven days. Those games will feature the Cavs, Warriors, Bucks, Sixers and the Hornets. Charlotte is the only team of that bunch currently out of the playoff picture, but they have already beaten the Wizards twice this season.

RELATED: 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT HAS LOADED CLASS

For Beal, it will be extra important to get any rest that he can.

"I will definitely be smart," he said. "I just gotta take care of my body. Listen to my body."

Beal says getting treatment from the Wizards' training staff in between games will be crucial. He also hopes to not over-exert himself in games by trusting his teammates and not trying to carry the load with John Wall out.

Though Beal may be tired from the weekend, he came out of it feeling pretty good about how he represented himself and the Wizards on the All-Star stage. He scored 14 points in 16 minutes in a game featuring the best players on the planet.

Beal now wants to make it an annual thing.

"I defintiely think it can push you more down the line. For me, it's just motivation to continue geting better," he said.

RELATED: WIZARDS HAVE BIG QUESTIONS TO ANSWER IN SECOND HALF

 

 

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Scott Brooks preparing Wizards for much tougher road ahead

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Scott Brooks preparing Wizards for much tougher road ahead

The Wizards entered the All-Star break having won seven of their previous nine games since John Wall went down with an injury, so a natural question to head coach Scott Brooks looking ahead to their first game back on Thursday was how he and his team can keep that momentum going in the second half.

Brooks immediately pointed to the Wizards' schedule, which gets notably more difficult in the coming weeks. They have a stretch of games over the next month-plus that features the best teams in basketball and Brooks knows that will be a big factor in whether they can sustain what they have going.

"Definitely the schedule gets tougher," Brooks said. "We've got a lot of good teams coming up starting with the first one in Cleveland. It's five games in seven nights against really good teams."

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

In the next five weeks, the Wizards will play 15 of 17 games against teams currently holding playoff spots. That includes the Cavaliers, Warriors, Celtics, Spurs (twice), Raptors and Timberwolves. 

That will represent a marked shift for the Wizards, who to this point have the weakest strength of schedule. Though they boast impressive wins over the Celtics, Rockets, Raptors and Timberwolves, they are about to play teams of that caliber more frequently with few nights off to rest. They have four back-to-back sets all in the next three weeks.

The upcoming stretch has been on the Wizards' minds for a while. Several players referenced their tough schedule before the All-Star break, knowing those wins leading up to the time off could prove extra important in hindsight.

The Wizards return to action on Thursday night against the Cavaliers, a team that has already beaten them twice. Both of those games were against the old version of the Cavs before they traded much of their roster at the deadline.

RELATED: WIZARDS HAVE BIG QUESTIONS TO ANSWER IN SECOND HALF

Gone are Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Isaiah Thomas, Iman Shumpert, Jae Crowder and Channing Frye. But they still have that guy LeBron James.

"Shoot, they looked good the other time, right? They beat us twice with the other group," Brooks noted. "LeBron is going to go down as one of the best ever. They are younger and more athletic. They're a good team and they still have an All-Star in [Kevin] Love who hasn't played because he's hurt."

The Cavs haven't lost in three games since the All-Star break and that includes road wins over the Celtics and Thunder. They look rejuvenated and, at least so far, improved from the aging, incongruent roster they had just weeks ago.

The Wizards have also been playing better lately, of course, and this upcoming stretch will be a major test for them. Wall has been out three weeks since he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He is likely to miss another three-to-five weeks. The Wizards will have to get through this without him.

If they can remain competitive and even beat some of these elite teams, they will only gain more confidence in their potential. That's the way Brooks plans to approach the schedule.

"We still want to be a better team when John comes back," Brooks said. "But the schedule definitely gets a lot tougher."

RELATED: 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT HAS LOADED CLASS