Celtics

Celtics' Marcus Morris: "When I look at us I see a bunch of individuals"

Celtics' Marcus Morris: "When I look at us I see a bunch of individuals"

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics suffered a second straight head-scratching defeat, losing 123-112 to the Los Angeles Clippers after leading by as many as 28 points. 

But the factors leading up to the loss and the emotionless reaction by most players afterwards, speaks to what may be a much larger issue looming inside the Celtics locker room that could torpedo their hopes of making a deep postseason run. 

Marcus Morris said the Celtics have not been having fun for a while, even as the wins piled up and they climbed their way back into the upper echelon of teams in the East. 

“I watch all these other teams in the league, they’re jumping on the court, all the stuff that looks like they’re enjoying their teammates’ success,” said Morris, who added, “And they’re playing together, and they're playing to win. When I look at us I see a bunch of individuals.”

Ouch.

Morris’ comments come on the heels of Boston (35-21) having lost two straight with the bigger picture being the Celtics winning 10 of its last 13 games which has allowed them to climb up a couple spots to the No. 3 seed in the East. 

So I asked him, what has to change?

“The goal has to be to win; the bottom line,” he said. “We have to play to win. That’s sacrificing, playing hard; that’s sacrificing, being a better teammate. That’s sacrificing, whatever it is we have to put it to the side. No one’s getting traded. The trade deadline is over. We’re competing for a championship and that’s how we have to approach the game. Win, lose or draw, you’re gonna lose games. But we don’t have no attitude, we don’t have no toughness. We ain’t having fun. It’s gonna be a long season.”

☘️CLIPPERS 123, CELTICS 112

Actually, it’s not going to be that long if their effort, focus and attention to detail remains as sporadic as it has been for most of this season. 

Following Saturday’s loss, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens alluded to some potential changes he might look to make in order to address those wickedly poor stretches of play this team tends to experience in the second and third quarters of games. 

“I need to go back and look at what I can do to help us manage those minutes better,” Stevens said.

Morris will leave that up to Stevens to decide what’s the best course of action as far as any potential changes. 

But he said on multiple occasions that he’s on board with whatever changes have to be made in order for this team to get back to winning games and having fun in the process. 

“If he wants to take me out of the starting lineup, get some juice in there, I’m with it,” Morris said. “But I’m trying to win; that’s the main goal. The trade deadline is over. This is the team we’re rockin’ with. At the end of the day, it’s unacceptable what we did tonight, very unacceptable for a team of our caliber.”

While Saturday’s loss may have been the catalyst to Morris’ comments, he made it clear that this has been an issue within the locker room for some time now, even in stretches in which they were winning games. 

“It’s been a little minute,” he said when asked about how long has this particular issue been going on. “We had talks about it. For us to be a championship team, that has to change. Win … that has to be the first goal. Whatever that takes, I’m with it.”

Up next for the Celtics will be a road test at the revamped Philadelphia 76ers, a team that’s fighting for the No. 3 spot along with Boston whose roster was upgraded at the trade deadline with a couple of additions headlined by Tobias Harris. 

Boston has shown a knack for rising to the level of elite competition, so the facing the Sixers comes on time, right? 

“It’s not about one game, it’s not about two games,” Morris said. “It’s about this entire experience. We have a great team. We have a lot of names, a great team. But if it’s not fun, not together, then how can we win? I’ve never seen a team not having fun, bonding well on the court, win a championship. If the goal is to win a championship, that has to change first.”

But is this team capable of making that change?

Morris believes they can, “but you have to start … gotta start somewhere,” he said. 

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Is Jaylen Brown the NBA's best shooting guard? Kendrick Perkins makes case

Is Jaylen Brown the NBA's best shooting guard? Kendrick Perkins makes case

Jaylen Brown didn't make the All-Star team this year, and you likely won't find him on a 2020 All-NBA squad.

But if you ask Kendrick Perkins, the voters should re-evaluate their choices.

After Brown dropped 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting and played impressive defense against Raptors star Pascal Siakam in the Boston Celtics' 122-100 dismantling of Toronto on Friday night, Perkins went on NBC Sports Boston's "Celtics Postgame Live" to drop a spicy take.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Magic, which begins Sunday at 4 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 5 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

"Jaylen Brown, to me, is the best all-around shooting guard in the league," Perkins said. "Pure point blank."

Brown is enjoying a career season, averaging 20.6 points on 48.8 percent shooting with 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while continuing to play elite defense. The 23-year-old has been particularly hot of late, scoring 20 or more points in nine of Boston's last 10 games.

But is Perkins saying Brown is the best shooting guard in the NBA -- better than All-Stars like Bradley Beal and Devin Booker, not to mention MVP finalist James Harden?

Here's Perk's explanation:

He don't search for shots. He's not a high-volume scorer. But when you look up at the end of the night, he's got his 20 points on over 50 percent shooting. And he locks up the best guy every single night. You can't find that. And his playmaking is underrated. He's got a very high (basketball) IQ.

There are better scorers at the position -- including Harden, the NBA's most prolific scorer -- but you could argue Brown has become one of the league's strongest two-way shooting guards.

And Perkins very much would like to make that argument.

Perkins might take heat for declaring Brown the cream of the shooting guard crop, but his bold take shouldn't distract from the fact that the fourth-year wing is becoming an elite NBA player before our eyes.

Report: 76ers star Ben Simmons to leave NBA bubble for knee surgery

Report: 76ers star Ben Simmons to leave NBA bubble for knee surgery

Is the Philadelphia 76ers' worst-case scenario playing out?

All-Star guard Ben Simmons will leave the NBA bubble to undergo surgery on his left knee, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Saturday.

The procedure will "remove a loose body" from Simmons' knee, per Charania. The timetable for his recovery is unclear, but ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski suggested he'll at least miss the first round or two of the NBA playoffs.

Simmons injured his knee Wednesday during Philly's win over the Washington Wizards and was diagnosed with a subluxation of his left patella, or kneecap.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Magic, which begins Sunday at 4 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 5 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

His injury obviously has massive implications for the Sixers and the rest of the Eastern Conference -- particularly the Boston Celtics, who would match up with Philly in the first round if the season ended today.

Boston currently is the No. 3 seed in the East, while the Sixers are the No. 6 seed but have the same record as the No. 5 Indiana Pacers with four seeding games remaining.

Simmons is averaging 16.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, eight assists and a league-high 2.1 steals for Philly and is the team's best player outside big man Joel Embiid. His absence changes the entire dynamic of Philly's offense and makes the Sixers a much less formidable playoff opponent.