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.
- MORE CELTICS - C's shut down Ben Simmons in Game 2
“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:
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.
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.