Celtics

Marcus Morris free of minutes restriction; Al Horford hopes to play through knee/calf injury

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Marcus Morris free of minutes restriction; Al Horford hopes to play through knee/calf injury

LONDON –  You knew the Celtics having a more spaced out schedule would help some players. Few will benefit more than Marcus Morris, who will play Thursday against Philadelphia without any minutes restriction.

The 6-foot-9 forward has been in and out of the Celtics lineup due to left knee soreness, but ample days between games — four on each side of Thursday — should serve him well.

“Hopefully the knee responds well; continue to move forward,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston.

And if so, Morris can step on the floor and just play his game without worrying about where he’s at minutes-wise. 

“This is my first year being minutes restricted,” said Morris, who added that he does get sped up some times in games.

When healthy, he has proven himself to a solid role player as a key reserve or as a starter. The Celtics are 10-1 when Morris opens with the first unit.

The news on the health front is good for Al Horford as well.

Horford missed Boston’s last game with a sore knee/calf injury, which isn’t expected to keep him out of Thursday’s game.

“The knee’s OK,” Horford said following today’s practice in London. “I was able to go through practice. There was still some discomfort there but I was able to practice. I was encouraged by that so I should be good to go.”
 
Horford still isn’t sure how the injury occurred.

“It’s like knee-calf area,” he said. “It’s something very different. It’s never happened to me before. But a couple days’ rest has been good for me. I just need to keep treating it; I hope to be able to go Thursday.”

Celtics achieve their biggest offseason goal: Re-signing Marcus Smart

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File photo

Celtics achieve their biggest offseason goal: Re-signing Marcus Smart

BOSTON -- Mission accomplished.

The Celtics went into the offseason planning to bring back all their core players from last season’s squad, which came within a victory of getting to the NBA Finals.

The last bit of business is now taken care of with Marcus Smart coming to terms on a four-year, $52 million contract.

A restricted free agent this summer, Smart was unable to secure an offer sheet from another team. The Celtics had maintained all along they would match any offer within a reasonable amount. 

They never put a specific number on how high they would go, but most league executives believed a team would have to sign Smart to an offer sheet of at least $15 million in order for the Celtics to allow him to walk.

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Signing Smart solidifies what’s shaping up as one of the deepest backcourts in the NBA. All-Star Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown are the starters, with Smart and Terry Rozier coming off the bench.

There were moments during negotiations when Smart was reportedly disappointed and frustrated by the lack of attention the Celtics were paying him through the process. But Boston maintained all along that re-signing him was its No. 1 priority, and that position never changed.

Even when Smart’s return was far from a given, the Celtics still had a roster that was viewed by many as one of the best in the NBA. When LeBron James left Cleveland to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, that instantly catapulted the Celtics to the top of the Eastern Conference. (Story continues below.)

 

At 1:26 mark: A. Sherrod Blakey, Kyle Draper, Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek discuss the Smart deal prior to its finalization

 

Now with Smart set to return, Boston’s position among its Eastern Conference brethren remains strong as ever, even with the Raptors trading for two-way standout Kawhi Leonard.

The Celtics' journey towards the NBA Finals will involve them leaning on a variety of players with a varying amount of strengths and skills. That's why re-signing Smart was so important.

The recipe for postseason success is an unpredictable one; it requires having as much elite versatility on the roster as possible. That's what Smart brings: An ability to impact games when there’s a great need for toughness defensively, which is often in the closing moments of matchups.

DJ BEAN

That’s why you’ll often find Smart on the floor in close games, regardless of how well or woeful he might be shooting that night.

Because as much as the analytics folks of the world would love to see better numbers by Smart when he’s on the floor, it always comes back to winning games for the 6-foot-4 guard.

And as much of a head-scratcher he may be when it comes to shooting, he never loses sight of the ultimate goal -- winning -- which is why Boston’s quest towards Banner 18 is even more alive and well with his return.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kawhi Leonard finally traded; Marcus Smart back to the Celtics?

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NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kawhi Leonard finally traded; Marcus Smart back to the Celtics?

1:26 - Marcus Smart and the Celtics are reportedly finalizing a 4 year contract. A. Sherrod Blakey and Kyle Draper join Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to discuss the deal and debate if the Celtics are overpaying for Smart.

6:17 - Kawhi Leonard has finally been traded. The Spurs shipped him to the Raptors in a package centered around DeMar DeRozan. Cedric Maxwell breaks down who got the best end of the deal and if he was surprised Kawhi got sent to Toronto.

11:18 - Darrelle Revis has officially retired from the NFL after 11 seasons, including one season with the Patriots where he won his only Super Bowl ring. Chris Gasper along with Tanguay and Trenni discuss Revis’ legacy.  

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NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE