Celtics

It's Morris' film study that helps school Simmons and Sixers

It's Morris' film study that helps school Simmons and Sixers

BOSTON  – You often hear players and coaches talk about the work that goes into playing that doesn’t appear on the practice court and doesn’t necessarily manifest itself in games.

Marcus Morris has been one of the Celtics' better scorers this season. And prior to his arrival in Boston, his reputation was that of a versatile defender.

But what folks don’t know about Morris is that as the stakes have gotten higher in the postseason, he has spent a considerable amount of additional time watching video of various matchups.

One matchup that he has locked in on is the one between him and Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons.

Coming into this second-round series, Morris knew that he and Al Horford would likely split time defending the 6-foot-10 point-forward.

So, much of Morris’ film study has been on tendencies he has recognized in Simmons’ game.

And based on how ineffective Simmons has been in this series thus far, that film work has paid off in a big way.

“No disrespect to Joel Embiid, because he’s a hell of a player,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “But Simmons really gets them going. If you can limit him, make him do some things he doesn’t want to do, make him feel you out there … that’s what we want.”

Simmons, who scored a career-low one point in Boston’s Game 2 win Thursday night, said his struggles had more to do with himself than anything the Celtics did defensively.

Regardless, the Celtics have made limiting his impact a priority and when you break down all that has transpired in the first two games, Boston’s success along those lines has been a major factor in its 2-0 series lead heading for Philly and Game 3 Saturday.

And when you break down that success, it comes back in part to Morris’ breaking down of film.

But Morris’ film focus isn’t solely on what he has to do defensively. He’s also looking for spots on the floor when he can be most effective at the offensive end, too.

Morris will be the first to admit he didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well as he would have liked in the first-round series against Milwaukee.

And in the first two games against the Sixers, Morris is averaging 11 points on 8-for-20 (40 percent) shooting, which is slightly better than his first-round shooting numbers (33-for-85, 38.8 percent).

Here are five other takeaways from the 108-103 Game 2 win over Philadelphia:  

BACKUP POWER


Injuries have forced Brad Stevens to reshuffle his second unit. But they have still managed to make an impact and thus far in this series, have outperformed their Sixers brethren. In Game 2, Boston’s bench outscored Philly’s backups, 30-23.

GREG MONROE


One of the more unsung heroes in the comeback from 22 points down was Monroe. He only had four points, but his presence around the rim was instrumental in Boston closing out the second quarter with a 25-8 run that cut the Philly lead to five at the half.

SPEAKING OF THE SECOND QUARTER...


One of the more head-scratching moments of the game was that second-quarter run by the Celtics to close out the half. Trailing 48-26 with 6:41 to play in the second, the Celtics would outscore the Sixers 25-8, which brought them within five points (56-51) of Philadelphia. That wasn’t the surprise. The fact that Sixers coach Brett Brown did not call a single timeout during the run. Maybe he was in shock that the half was going to end with the Sixers ahead for the first time in their postseason run.

AL HORFORD, MR. HUSTLE


Big Al delivered his fourth double-double of the postseason with 13 points and 12 rebounds. But he was also had his share of intangible plays as well. According to nba.com/stats, Horford contested a game-high 17 shots (11, two-pointers and six, 3-pointers) in Game 2. In addition, he had a game-high eight box outs. He also led the Celtics in screen assists (4) and deflections (4).

ROZIER HOME COOKIN’


The playoffs have been good to Terry Rozier, especially when it comes to playing in front of the TD Garden crowd. Rozier had 20 points along with nine assists and seven rebounds in Game 2. At home in the playoffs, Rozier is averaging 22.8 points on 50.5 percent shooting from the field and 54.3 percent from 3-point range. But when he’s hit the road, his scoring drops to 11.7 points on 27.8 percent shooting and 25.9 percent on 3’s.

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Celtics might not have a choice in getting Robert Williams III more minutes

Celtics might not have a choice in getting Robert Williams III more minutes

BOSTON -- It was something most Boston Celtics fans didn’t expect to see this time of year -- rookie Robert Williams III mobbed by media after a game in which he played a career-high 26 minutes and contributed to a Boston win.


But his play in Boston’s win over New Orleans warranted some post-game love, the kind that may become more of a regular occurrence going forward. 


One of the main reasons Williams saw so much playing time was because Al Horford did not play due to what head coach Brad Stevens described as patellar tendinitis. 


It is a condition where often the best treatment for it is rest, which means there’s a pretty good chance that Horford will miss a few more games this season to deal with the ailment. 


And that could mean more nights like Monday when the Time Lord graced us with his presence and play that included not one, but two rejections of shots from perennial All-Star big man (and target of Celtics Nation) Anthony Davis. 


More time for the Time Lord is seemingly on every Celtics fan’s wish list this holiday season.


But the Celtics have been overly cautious in their approach to bringing along Williams, the 27th pick in last June’s NBA draft who weeks prior to that was seen as a lottery (top-14) pick by many experts. 


He too has had some tendinitis issues that he and the Celtics staff have been managing since he arrived.


Boston will take a similar approach with Horford going forward.

MORE CELTICS


“He’s (Horford) been dealing with (patellar tendinitis) for a while,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “So, we’re going to see how this goes. He’s day-to-day now, but we may go slowly with him.”


Which may result in a speeding up the Time Lord’s workload beyond practice and playing in the Development League with the Maine Red Claws. 


Whatever Williams is called upon to do, there’s a different kind of confidence he has in himself in part because of his own personal growth since becoming a Boston Celtic. 


Being late for a conference call, missing his first practice, losing his wallet on more than one occasion … Williams did not get off to the best of starts after being drafted by Boston. 


If there was a turning point for him, it would have to be the conversation he had with Brad Stevens shortly after he missed his first practice. 


Williams said the meeting lasted about a half hour, with Stevens making his feelings on the matter crystal clear to Williams. 


“It’s a job; this ain’t college,’” Williams, in an interview with NBC Sports Boston earlier, recalled being the gist of Stevens’ message. “It ain’t time for them (expletive) ups; that was basically what he was saying. I understood him. I heard him loud and clear.”


Stevens declined to go into details about that conversation with Williams, but made it clear that he has been pleased with his overall effort and approach to things since they got past those early season gaffes on Williams' part. 


“He’s done a really good job of just working, doing all the little things you need to be a professional in this league. I like where he’s at and where he’s going as a player, as a person.”

A. SHERROD BLAKELY


And depending on how injuries play out, he may be going straight up the Celtics depth chart to the point where steady minutes become the norm and not the exception. 


Playing time is something Williams knows he has no control over. 


It’s what he does when called upon, that serves as a driving force for him now. 


Williams knows the way he began his career as a Celtic brought about a lot of uncertainty as to how reliable a teammate he can be. 


But Williams has made a point of doing all he can to not just gain but solidify the trust of his teammates as well as his head coach. 


“I looked at it as another blessing,” Williams said. “Any coach could have easily be done with me already. But Brad gave me another chance. I’m trying to stay on track, do everything I can to help the team.”
 

Having the support of his teammates has also been one of the many blessings Williams is proud of since becoming a Celtic. 


“It motivates me to want to do everything the correct way now,” Williams said. “It’s another blessing. I don’t want him (Stevens) or my teammates to feel they can’t trust me. I keep that in the back of my mind; don’t give him or them any negativity about me.”

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Warriors' Kevin Durant enjoys watching film of "best friend" Kyrie Irving

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Warriors' Kevin Durant enjoys watching film of "best friend" Kyrie Irving

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant is a student of basketball.

When he's not playing basketball and winning championships, he's probably watching basketball, either a live game or film on some of his favorite players. 

In a recent interview with The Athletic's Shams Charania, Durant revealed three players who've really impressed him while watching film, and one of them is Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving.

“Kobe (Bryant), MJ (Michael Jordan) and Kyrie,” Durant said. “Just the way they move, I don’t understand why people don’t realize what they’re seeing in these three, especially Jordan and Kobe. Kyrie is younger than me, and that’s one of my best friends, so I watch his stuff. I get to play with Steph every day so I know his game inside and out. But watching Kobe and Mike, I’m like, ‘How do you not realize how good these dudes are?’ How do you not say they’re by far better than anybody who’s played the game? Just by the way they move, how fluid they are."

Later in the interview, Durant added: “I can’t do what MJ does. I can’t palm the ball. I wish. I can’t shoot the turnaround, pump-fake spin, half-spin fadeaway like Kobe. Or crossover like Kyrie. I can’t do it. But I can try it. I can do it in my version, do it in my way. It keeps me creative and my excitement level for the game.”

In fairness to KD, there are many players who cannot do what he does, especially at 7-feet tall. He's one of the most unique and most talented players in NBA history. 

It's interesting, though, that Durant considers Irving one of his "best friends." Of course, Durant can become an unrestricted free agent next summer, with rumors and speculation linking him to the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks and other teams.

He met with the Celtics in free agency in 2016 before ultimately signing with the Warriors. Would he consider the C's again if he decides to leave the Warriors? If he would, the Celtics should have one of his "best friends" try to convince him to take his talents to Boston.

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