Celtics

A good practice for Marcus Morris fuels an even better game vs Pacers

A good practice for Marcus Morris fuels an even better game vs Pacers

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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Bucks fans' chant suggests they're pretty excited to face Celtics

Bucks fans' chant suggests they're pretty excited to face Celtics

As the Milwaukee Bucks put the finishing touches on a first-round sweep, their fans were already looking ahead.

The Bucks officially set up a second-round NBA playoff series with the Boston Celtics by beating the Pistons in Detroit on Monday night. And before that game even finished, fans at a Game 4 watch party in Milwaukee had the C's on their minds.

This is a perfect revenge matchup for the Bucks after Boston ousted them in the first round last season. Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo admitted as much Monday night after his team's series-clinching win.

But here's a quick warning for Bucks fans: Be careful what you wish for. The Celtics are riding high off a first-round sweep of the Indiana Pacers, and the last time another fanbase expressed its desire to play a Boston team was New York Yankees fans ahead of the 2018 American League Division Series. And we all know how that ended.

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Celtics to face Bucks in second round of the NBA playoffs

Celtics to face Bucks in second round of the NBA playoffs

To nobody's surprise, the Boston Celtics are going to play the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the NBA Playoffs.

The Bucks, the East's No. 1 seed, had the best record in the NBA last season (60-22) and faced little resistance in their first-round matchup. They easily swept the Detroit Pistons in four games. The Pistons' star player, Blake Griffin, was far from healthy, and that played a role in the Bucks' series win.

This is the second year in a row that the Celtics will play the Bucks in the playoffs. Last year, the No. 2 seeded Celtics defeated the Bucks in a series that spanned seven games. The home team won every game in that series.

The Bucks will be a tough opponent for the Celtics. Potential league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is a matchup nightmare, and he averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game during the regular season. And around him, the Bucks have solid depth.

In their regular season series, the Celtics posted only a 1-2 record against the Bucks, winning their first meeting in November but coming up just short in their other two games. Antetokounmpo averaged 31 points per game against the Celtics, so slowing him down will be key to finding success in the series.

The Celtics will open on the road in this series, as the first two games will be in Milwaukee. The Celtics will have to ensure that they get off to a solid start and continue to fare well on the road, something they struggled to do last postseason (1-7 record in eight road games, 0-3 in Milwaukee).

BLAKELY: Celtics vs. Bucks playoff history>>>

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