Celtics

Marcus Morris, Jaylen Brown involved in confrontation during timeout

Marcus Morris, Jaylen Brown involved in confrontation during timeout

MIAMI — Boston Celtics players Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown needed to be separated on the bench after tempers flared between the two, culminating with Morris shoving Brown, during a second quarter timeout in Thursday's game against the Miami Heat.

A video captured by a fan behind the Boston bench and widely circulated on social media shows Morris and Brown exchanging words and Morris appears to tell Brown to “play harder,” before teammate Marcus Smart steps between the two right as Morris delivers a firm righthanded shove to Brown.

The incident occurred with 7:12 remaining in the second quarter and, a short time before the stoppage, it appeared Morris was visibly upset and clapped in the direction of Brown after Boston’s 22-year-old swingman was late getting back on defense on a play that Miami took advantage of numbers to generate an easy layup.

Maybe exacerbating matters, as Morris voiced his frustration to Brown, the Celtics left inbounder Terry Rozier alone in the backcourt. As coach Brad Stevens implored someone to go help Rozier, Morris scrambled back to take the inbound.

Brown was subbed out of the game during the timeout when the altercation occurred and did not return in the first half. Brown didn’t sub back in until 37 seconds remaining in the third quarter and logged only 13 minutes, 50 seconds of total game time, though Stevens noted that Boston leaned heavier than usual on its starters — and energy-infusing rookie Robert Williams — while rallying back into the game in the third quarter.

Brown finished with 2 points on 1-of-5 shooting with two rebounds and an assist. Morris had 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting with six rebounds and an assist over 28:44.

Minor disagreements between teammates are not terribly uncommon over the course of a long season but typically take place behind closed doors and not with cameras recording the flare-up.

The Celtics are off Friday and are not scheduled to meet with reporters again until shootaround Saturday morning before a visit to the Orlando Magic that night.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

2020 NBA restart: It's OK for players to vocalize bubble concerns

2020 NBA restart: It's OK for players to vocalize bubble concerns

Even after Jayson Tatum very eloquently detailed his apprehensions about entering the bubble, there are some who continue to roll their eyes whenever a player expresses even the tiniest bit of concern about their sport’s resumption of play.

Listening to Boston Celtics players explain their various issues over the past week, I found it refreshing. I found it human. These players are leaving their families and risking their safety to bring us a tiny slice of normalcy with the return of pro sports.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis

Yes, most are handsomely compensated — but they are also being thrust into an unprecedented situation with restraints they never signed up for, all largely for our entertainment.

What’s more, most recognize this. Tatum admitted it would be callous of him to sit out the restart solely in fear of compromising future earnings at a time when unemployment numbers are so outrageously high.

But if players want to vocalize their concerns — big and small — I’m all ears. There is no playbook for what players are about to endure inside this bubble and how they handle it all is a big part of the story.

When Tatum bemoans being apart from his 2 ½-year old son for as much as three months, I get it. FaceTime and Zoom make the world smaller but they are not substitutes for daily interaction between child and parent. When Gordon Hayward is adamant he will depart the bubble, and deal with the obstacles of reentering, to be there for the birth of his first son, I get it.

Life events, particularly those that could not have reasonably been expected to interfere with one’s work schedule, should not be ignored because it might temporarily hinder a team’s quest for a trophy.

At a time when all of our lives have already been altered, players are being asked to sacrifice even more of their typical freedoms.

It’s fair for them to be skeptical. It’s fair for them to voice concerns, even if others don’t believe they are as much of a hindrance as that player might be suggesting. We’d go so far as to suggest it would be weird if players didn’t have concerns about how this is all going to work, or offer emotional reactions to the infancy of their bubble stay.

We’re guessing many of the anxieties and inconveniences will likely dissipate as players settle into the bubble. Eventually, the return of games and competition should offer a much-needed jolt of normalcy in an otherwise bizarre living situation.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Can Tatum be a title team's best player? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

If a player expressing their concern somehow diminishes your excitement for what’s ahead, I’m not sure what to tell you. To expect robot-like enthusiasm from athletes is misguided. To fret that players might vocalize genuine human emotion instead of simply reciting boring sports clichés flies counter to what we constantly yearn from our athletes.

There is a delicate line to walk. And players bemoaning 5-star hotels and pre-packaged meals won’t sit well in all corners. But I don’t mind the glimpse it offers if a player wants to share his knee-jerk reaction.

The guess here is that when Celtics players put on their uniforms and see the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo on the other side of the floor, competition will take center stage and the NBA will deliver a product much like the one we’ve yearned for since everything paused in March.

Sure, it's fair to wonder how the early scrimmages and seeding games will look, as each team will have different motivations in the ramp-up to the postseason, but the playoffs should have much of the excitement that we’re used to from those games. Let the famed Dream Team scrimmage be a prime example of how the absence of a crowd doesn’t always affect the intensity on the court.

This is all wildly unique. If being away from his son affects Tatum’s play, I want to hear about it. If Jaylen Brown worries that the return of games stunts the momentum of the social justice movement, I want to hear him vocalize that.

The human element is a major storyline to this wild experience.

2020 NBA restart: Top 22 players headed to the Orlando bubble

2020 NBA restart: Top 22 players headed to the Orlando bubble

With players already filing into the Disney World Bubble for the NBA to resume this season, the league’s restart has a much more realistic feel to it now.

As much as attention will be paid to the 22 teams on site, the league’s restart will be no different than any stretch of the season when it comes to what matters most — the players. 

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis

And while some players have decided to not participate in the league’s restart for health concerns or to continue to stand up and speak out on societal issues that have taken center stage in recent weeks, the overwhelming majority of the league’s star power will be back on the court in the coming weeks. 

But because the league return will only consist of players from the top 22 teams, any kind of power rankings of the top players should be limited to — you guessed it — the top 22 players. 

Here’s a glimpse at the top players in the NBA who are part of the league’s return to play which will officially kick off later this month.

Click here for the gallery.