Celtics

Marcus Morris evaluates his job defending LeBron: 'I did a (expletive) job'

Marcus Morris evaluates his job defending LeBron: 'I did a (expletive) job'

CLEVELAND – There was plenty of blame pie to go around the Boston Celtics following their 116-86 Game 3 beating by Cleveland. 

But no Celtic seemed to be taking ownership of his role in the defeat, more than Marcus Morris who acknowledged his poor play particularly on defending LeBron James.

“Personally, I did a (expletive) job defensively against LeBron,” Morris told reporters following Boston’s Sunday afternoon practice at Quicken Loans Arena. “He (James) was just too comfortable when I was guarding him.”

In the first two games of this series, James was just 8-for-23 shooting (34.8 percent) with a total of 22 points with 13 assists and five turnovers when defended by Morris. 

On Saturday, James tallied 14 points when defended by Morris on 5-for-9 shooting according to NBA.com/stats, along with five assists and just one turnover.

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As the team poured over the film from Saturday night’s loss, there were several contributors to one of the worst losses ever under fifth-year coach Brad Stevens.

Morris knows this. 

But he also knows that how he fares against James will go a long way in determining whether the Celtics can emerge victorious in Game 4 which would then put them one win away from a trip to the NBA Finals. Despite his struggles against James on Saturday, Morris and the rest of the Celtics haven’t lost any faith that when all is said and done, things will work out for him and the Celtics.

“Very confident. Very confident,” Morris said when asked about the team’s level of confidence right now. 

“I’m 100 percent sure it won’t be the same (Celtics) team on Monday,” Morris said.

LINEUP CHANGE? Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens won’t rule out making a change to the team’s starting lineup for Game 4 on Monday. If there is a change, it would likely involve Marcus Morris returning to the bench while being replaced by Aron Baynes or potentially Semi Ojeleye. A case can be made for why Stevens would start either guy. In Baynes, Boston would have Al Horford matched up against Kevin Love while Baynes would have to battle with Tristan Thompson underneath the rim. Such a move would also bolster Boston’s bench with the return of Morris to the second unit.

LARKIN PROGRESS: Shane Larkin's left shoulder injury suffered continues to improve, but there's still no timetable for when he'll be healthy enough to return to the Celtics lineup. Following Boston’s practice on Sunday, Larkin and a member of the Celtics’ training staff were playing catch with several feet of space in between them. While it’s certainly a good sign to see Larkin throwing the ball with some distance, he remains highly unlikely to play in this series.  

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LeBron James' like of Kyrie Irving-Lakers Instagram post turns heads

LeBron James' like of Kyrie Irving-Lakers Instagram post turns heads

If LeBron James is trying to be subtle, it's not working.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported this week that Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving has become "more open" to joining the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency and added Thursday he expects James to try to recruit Irving to L.A.

Apparently that recruiting process already has begun. The Instagram account "Cuffs the Legend" posted a doctored photo of Irving in a Lakers jersey Friday ... and guess who was one of the first to "like" the post?

The caption reads, "I like how this feels," and James' Instagram activity suggests he'd also like reuniting with Irving on the Lakers.

James and Irving have come a long way since the latter's acrimonious exit from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017. Kyrie even admitted to calling LeBron this winter to seek leadership advice from the three-time NBA champion, so the two clearly have mended fences.

The latest scuttlebutt suggests the Lakers still trail the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets on Irving's free-agent list if he leaves Boston, but James apparently is trying to influence those rankings.

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Danny Ainge, back at work for Celtics, shouts out Kyrie Irving on Twitter

Danny Ainge, back at work for Celtics, shouts out Kyrie Irving on Twitter

Danny Ainge could only be kept away for so long.

The Boston Celtics president of basketball operations, who suffered a mild heart attack earlier this month, already has been back with the team for weeks, head coach Brad Stevens admitted Thursday, via MassLive.com.

Ainge wouldn't be forgiven for taking some recovery time after the Celtics bowed out to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round. But the NBA Draft and free agency are rapidly approaching, so there's plenty for Ainge to do ... even as his coworkers urge him to pace himself.

"Danny’s a tireless worker," Celtics co-owner Steven Pagliuca said Thursday at a service for late Celtics legend John Havlicek in Boston, via MassLive.com. “We’re trying to make him slow down, but he seems very healthy and he’s on a plant-based diet, feeling good, and we’re just happy to see him back."

It turns out Ainge also is a tireless tweeter. Shortly after Kyrie Irving (also an adopter of the plant-based diet) earned second-team All-NBA honors Thursday, Ainge gave his point guard a shout-out on Twitter.

Ainge also retweeted the Celtics' tweet congratulating Irving.

Irving, of course, can become a free agent this summer and is expected to consider the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers, among others. Convincing his All-Star guard to stay in Boston will be a top priority for Ainge, considering Irving's fate could impact the Celtics' pursuit of Anthony Davis.

Ainge's health and well-being obviously is paramount to any business the C's explore this summer, but it sounds like the 60-year-old is fully back in the swing of things.

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