BOSTON -- Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens saw it coming.
He has had players have good stretches in practice, but something seemed different with Marcus Morris.
“He was terrific at practice on Thursday when we went live,” Stevens said.
And he was even better on Sunday in helping Boston to an 84-74 Game 1 win over the Indiana Pacers.
Morris came off the bench and scored a team-high-tying 20 points for Boston, 12 of which came in the first quarter.
The 12 points scored by Morris in the first marked the best scoring quarter he has had all season.
Stevens also attributed some of Morris’ success to getting some added downtime at the end of the season to rest up for the playoffs.
“He probably benefited as much as anybody from being out a couple of the (late) season games … he did a really good job and we need him to.”
Said Morris: “Anytime we get any days off it’s great for us,” Morris told reporters. “I think I played 70-something games, so it’s a time to relax and reflect on the season and just get better.”
And his play on Sunday may just be what he needs to reverse some recent struggles.
In addition to the scoring, Morris also made his presence felt on the glass by grabbing seven rebounds.
“He just brought a really intense veteran mindset,” said Boston’s Kyrie Irving who shared game-high scoring honors (20) with Morris. “Just being able to go out there and impact the game. He is not so much about scoring as much as he is the attitude coming in and really just throwing himself into the game. I appreciated that.”
And the Celtics appreciate Morris; well today at least.
Indeed, Sunday was a day of redemption on many levels for Morris who has not shot the ball nearly as well of late.
In the first few months of the season, he was shooting at or around 50 percent from the field, close to 40 percent from three-point range and around 90 percent from the line.
But in the midst of his career season, Morris hit a shooting slump that has made him not nearly as impactful as he was earlier.
Before the All-Star break, he shot 47.6 from the field.
Since then, that number has dropped to 37.8 percent.
Before the break he shot 40.9 percent on threes, and has connected on just 30.0 percent since then.
No surprise those shooting woes have resulted in Morris’ impact on games taking a bit of a dive.
Since the break, Morris’ plus/minus has been minus-5.2 after a plus-3.6 prior to the break.
And much of the speculation surrounding his recent struggles is believed to be tied with Stevens’ decision to move Morris back to the bench.
“At the end of the day, I’m a hooper,” Morris said. “So, if I start or come off (the bench) there will be small adjustments. Just trying to come out and help the team. If I come off just make sure I come off with an impact and if I start it will be the same way.”
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