BOSTON -- The way the regular season ended, no one had a feel for what to expect from Marcus Morris.
What began as a breakout season for the eight-year veteran soon swooned into a ton of missed shots, being shifted back to the bench and because of that, lots of uncertainty as to what to expect in the playoffs.
Still, as we saw in the Celtics' Game 1 win, Morris opened the postseason in a similar fashion to how he began the regular season - getting buckets.
And while it would make sense if the extended time off between the last regular season game and Game 1 against Indiana helped, Morris is quick to say that his play of late has little to nothing to do with being more rested.
“It’s the playoffs,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “The regular season, I’m not really worried about what happens during the regular season and how I play.”
And while his numbers certainly took a dip once the calendar flipped to January, his total body of work this season speaks to how good he can be when the opportunity to play decent minutes presents itself.
This season, Morris averaged 13.9 points while registering career highs shooting (44.7% from the field) along with grabbing a career-best 6.1 rebounds per game.
And his numbers against Indiana in the regular season?
Appearing in four games against the Pacers this season, Morris averaged 15.8 points while shooting 52.4 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from 3-point range.
In Boston’s 84-74 Game 1 win, Morris scored 20 points, sharing team-high scoring honors with Kyrie Irving.
The 6-foot-9 Morris has been asked to play a good chunk of power forward this season. That's allowed him to be in position to exploit mismatches on offense.
Second Spectrum data from Sunday indicated that of Morris’ 20 points, 15 came while being defended by Domantas Sabonis (eight points in nine possessions) and Myles Turner (seven points in nine possessions), Indiana’s primary power forwards, who also play center.
“I think all year I had matchups in my favor,” Morris said.
Because the Celtics have a number of offensively-skilled players who can also take advantage of mismatches, Morris understands that sometimes he’ll have to pass up attacking to instead allow one of his teammates to make the most of what may be an even more favorable advantage for Boston.
“It’s not about me,” Morris said before adding, “It’s about getting the best shot for the team. If I do have a matchup where I can create and knock down shots, find the open man or shoot…I’m a basketball player just making basketball plays.”
While Irving and the rest of the Celtics struggled to score early Sunday, it was Morris’ early scoring (he had 12 points in the first quarter) that kept the C's within striking distance.
“He brings us toughness, but his mind as well as his experience, he knows how to play hard,” Irving said, recalling Morris’ postseason play in 2016 when he played for Detroit and Irving was in Cleveland. “We pretty much know what to expect from each other when the intensity rises, the quote-unquote, pressure rises as well.”
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