Celtics

Morris' tough love exactly what Celtics need now

Morris' tough love exactly what Celtics need now

BOSTON -- When the Marcus Morris trade with Detroit went down in 2017, I made a point of reaching out to some of my Detroit connections (I spent nearly a decade covering the Pistons when they were really good in the 2000s) just to see what the Celtics were getting in Morris. 

The most commonly used words in describing him were “tough” and “versatile.”

But the one word no one uttered about him was leader. 

However, reflecting upon the incident he had with Jaylen Brown in the 115-99 loss at Miami on Thursday, there is absolutely no question that what we saw on that video was a brand of leadership from Morris that this Celtics team desperately needs. 

Kyrie Irving preaches patience when it comes to his youthful teammates all the time, while trying to balance that with still challenging them. 

And Al Horford is a respected veteran who is also a man of few words, preferring to instead lead by example.

Those are all noble approaches to leadership. 

But when the stakes are as high as they are for the Celtics this season, there has to be someone willing to initiate those frank, straight-no-chaser, high accountability-driven conversations that are uncomfortable because more likely than not, feelings will get hurt. 

Morris?

Yup. 

He’s that dude!

“To be the team we want to be, we have to be open with each other and be able to discuss things that are going on, on the court,” Morris told reporters in Orlando. “If it leads to a little bumping, pushing and shoving...it’s nothing. You move past that type of stuff and keep going.”’

And that is essentially what he and Brown have made of the incident that stemmed from Brown not getting back quick enough on defense, which led to a Miami Heat lay-up and on the sideline, Morris pushing Brown before Marcus Smart - yes, Marcus Smart - intervened. 

Morris, Brown and coach Brad Stevens downplayed the incident, acknowledging that those kinds of run-ins happen all the time in the NBA especially when you’re talking about a highly competitive team with winning a title as a legit and realistic goal. 

They’re right. 

But the issue that so many had with it, was that it happened in the middle of a game with thousands of eyeballs and at least one camera phone that captured the incident for the entire world to see. 

“It’s not weird. You see it all the time,” Brown said when asked about seeing the incident go viral. “In this case, it’s nothing major.”

Actually, it’s a pretty big deal but not for the reasons you might be thinking. 

Morris has been the most consistent player on this team all season, the one player who seems to understand what playing with a sense of urgency all the time really means. 

But as much as they need his scoring and rebounding and defense to win games, they also need him to become more of a leader. 

And the way he leads is the way he plays - hard, in your face, no apologies. 

It has the potential to leave some with hurt feelings and in the heat of the moment, tempers will likely flare. 

But Morris doesn’t care. 

He wants to win it all this year, something he has not been the least bit coy about acknowledging. 

And to do so, it’s going to take all the Celtics to be at the top of their game and come as close to reaching their full potential talent-wise as they can. 

If you’re doing that, he’ll be your biggest cheerleader. 

If you’re not, he’ll let you know. 

How you handle that, is your business. 

Helping the Celtics win games, whether it’s with his play or leadership, is his. 

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NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Celtics will return to limited practice routine starting June 1

Celtics will return to limited practice routine starting June 1

The Boston Celtics will move one step closer towards preparing for the remainder of this season, with voluntary individual player workouts beginning at the team’s practice facility on June 1. 

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Friday that professional teams in the state could resume practicing soon. 

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“I know we still aren’t to the point where we’ll have our pro sports teams back playing anything yet,” Baker said in a press conference at the State House. “The leagues are obviously working hard to host games again. And I think we all hope that at some point, opening practice facilities will help make that happen a little sooner.”

Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ President of Basketball Operations, echoed similar sentiments on Friday. 

“We’re happy that our players will now have the option to work out individually in a safe environment at the Auerbach Center,” Ainge said. “And we hope it signals a step back towards playing basketball again.”

The Celtics added that the workouts will adhere to strict protocols that include but are not limited to the following:

  • Workouts are voluntary & will be conducted in strict accordance with city, state, CDC, and NBA requirements and guidelines.
  • Symptom and temperature checks will be done by team medical staff before anyone enters the facility.
  • Workouts will be limited to individual (1-on-0) shooting, strength and conditioning work, and medical evaluation and therapy as needed.
  • Only essential areas will be accessed. There will be no access to locker rooms, showers, hydrotherapy, medical exam rooms, cafeteria, and offices.
  • Only four players will be able to work out at a time, each working with only one staff member at a time. There will be no more than one player per half court at a time.
  • All staff members will wear masks in the building, and any staff member working with a player must wear gloves. Players will wear masks except while engaging in physical activity. Players and staff will adhere to CDC and NBA compliant social distancing standards at all times.
  • Social distancing will be required in the building except in limited specific instances  (e.g. physical therapy), when PPE will be used.
  • A thorough cleaning and disinfection of all spaces and equipment, including basketballs, will take place before and after each player uses the building.
  • Only staff members essential to these workouts will be present at the Auerbach Center. There will be no access for general staff, public, or media. 

While no definitive date has been set for the NBA to resume play, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has reportedly told owners that the league is targeting July 31 as a return-to-play date. 

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NBA rumors: July 31 is a target date for 2019-20 season return

NBA rumors: July 31 is a target date for 2019-20 season return

Could we see the return of NBA basketball at the end of July?

The Athletic's Shams Charania has reported the league told its Board of Governors on Friday that July 31 is a potential target date for the resumption of the 2019-20 season.

Charania also reported the league discussed four return to play scenarios ranging from going directly to the playoffs with 16 teams to bringing back all 30 teams and having them play 72 regular season games (most teams already have played around 65) before the postseason. The latter scenario doesn't seem likely, though.

If the season does resume, the remaining games (including the playoffs) could be played at one location to minimize travel and maximize the safety and health of players, team employees and everyone else involved. One such location reportedly being considered is Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida.

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It's important to remember nothing has been announced by the league, and plenty of details must be sorted out before games can start up again. This news of a potential target date for a season return is encouraging, though.