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.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Who will be the Celtics' leader on the boards this season?

Who will be the Celtics' leader on the boards this season?

BOSTON – This Celtics team is built to play position-less basketball, a style that lends itself to offensive mismatches.

But the downside lies in rebounding, which can be more difficult with players on the floor for whom board work may not be one of their strengths.

That brings us to the Celtics, who showed most of last season that they can find success on the boards even with players who may not traditionally be viewed as big-time rebounders.

So, who will be the chairman of the boards for Boston this season?

AL HORFORD
He led the team in rebounding last season at 7.4 per game and comes in as the odds-on favorite to repeat. The 32-year-old’s versatility to play both around the basket and on the perimeter will keep him on the floor a ton. And that will give him the best shot at making his presence felt on the glass, which will be one of the areas Boston has to find success to have the kind of season they believe they're capable of delivering. He had 14 double-doubles in points and rebounds last season and came within one rebound of a double-double on 10 other occasions.

DANIEL THEIS


This is my pick to lead in rebounding, if it’s not Horford. Minutes more than anything else are what I believe would keep Theis from leading this team in rebounds. As a rookie last season, he led the team in rebounding percentage (.160) while grabbing 4.3 rebounds in 14.9 minutes per game. The 26-year-old started to show signs of becoming a 3-point threat, which bodes well for his chances at seeing as much playing time or even more, this season. And with increased minutes come a more impactful role, a role that will surely include him doing a strong job rebounding.

TERRY ROZIER


When you think of rebounding, 6-foot-2 combo guards don’t come to mind. But Rozier has already shown himself to be among the better rebounding guards in the NBA. With Boston having so many perimeter threats on the roster, that creates gaps and seams towards the rim that Rozier could easily slip into and do what he does as well as any guard in the NBA not named Russell Westbrook – and that’s rebound.

JAYSON TATUM
His length, deceptive athleticism and basketball smarts make him a player who could factor in the team’s rebounding efforts on a grander level this season. With Gordon Hayward (ankle) back in the mix along with Kyrie Irving, there’s a very real possibility that Tatum could be looked upon to become a better rebounder after averaging 5.0 per game last season. The key to Tatum’s improvement in this area will lie in his rebounding percentage numbers. Although he was fifth on the team in rebounds per game last season, his rebounding percentage (.091) was seventh among players who began the season in Boston and played more than half the season. Improvement in this area would do wonders for the Celtics.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE


 

Gordon Hayward close to new sneaker deal

Gordon Hayward close to new sneaker deal

Celtics star Gordon Hayward is close to coming to terms on a multi-year sneaker deal after being courted by a number of shoemakers.

Sports shoe and apparel giant Nike, Chinese company Anta and Boston-based New Balance, which has a sponsorship deal with the C's new Auerbach Center training facility, are pursuing Hayward.

Anta reportedly made Hayward an offer about a month ago, according to ESPN's Nick DePaula:

Former Celtics Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo had deals with Anta. Hayward, coming back this season after missing nearly all of last season after an injury five minutes into Celtics debut, has been with Nike, including wearing the company's Kobe 11 shoe.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE