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Morning tip: Celtics lost on how to deal with matchup problem Markieff Morris

Morning tip: Celtics lost on how to deal with matchup problem Markieff Morris

First, it was Gerald Green who lasted just seven minutes as the starting power forward. Then came Amir Johnson and he lasted just five. Neither yielded a single bucket for the Boston Celtics but they led the Wizards in the East semifinals 2-0 anyway. 

After losing Game 3 with Green, who is more of the stretch option, the Celtics went with Johnson in Game 4 and it was equally disastrous. Meanwhile, the Wizards hit them with a steady dose of Markieff Morris time and again and got results.

"We're the better team and we feel like we've been the better team," said Morris, who has dominated the matchup and had 16 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals in Sunday's 121-102 victory for Washington. "If we go out there and play like that, we can get the win.

"Either way, they're in a lose-lose switching that guy."

Johnson has the size but lacks the skill or finesse to combat Morris, who is 6-10 but can face up from long range and break him down off the dribble. Green is an undersized scorer who is a liability in the low post trying to defend Morris. Neither can rebound with him, either, which is where the Wizards have been plus-12 and plus-14 in the last two games. If  Celtics coach Brad Stevens attempts a three-guard lineup and Marcus Smart finds himself on Morris, that's an even easier assignment for him.

[RELATED: Markieff Morris has quote of the year after blowout win over Celtics]

Boston cross-matched because of Morris, having Al Horford defend him while Johnson shifted to Marcin Gortat who is even bigger in Game 4. The Wizards took advantage of that by using more screen action with Gortat to put Johnson, who is a weak defender vs. guards, in space on John Wall. 

It seems like a game of musical chairs, and regardless of Morris' statistics shows it or not game to game, his presence leads to issues because the Celltics must assume the risk to compensate for him. Both teams switch on defense at that position, but Morris is OK vs. no matter who his assignment becomes after the switch because there's no mismatch gained by the opposition, The Celtics don't have that luxury.

Jae Crowder took some of the burden on Morris on Sunday but ended up with five fouls before the third quarter ended. While he has the physical strength to battle down low, he's still underized defensively and is mostly a catch-and-shoot player offensively which doesn't present problems for Morris.

Morris scored the Wizards' first two points of the second half but grabbing an offensive rebound and getting foul shots on Crowder.  Morris switched onto Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley and kept them in front of him. Johnson, Green, Crowder and Smart can't do the same consistently vs. Wall and Bradley Beal. 

If the Wizards are able to win this series, look back at this inability to match up on Boston's part and the trickle-down effect as a signficant reason.

"Keef, he's a special player," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "I love coaching him. I like his toughness. I like his passion. He's a matchup problem. We don't care if they go small or big. We know if we have Keef he can guard smalls or he can guard bigs."

The left ankle spain that caused Morris to leave Game 1 is a distant memory. He hasn't had any issues with it since Horford stuck his foot underneath him on a jump shot and he has played with an extra edge ever since then.

The Wizards still have to win a game at TD Garden where they're 0-4 this season to upset the No. 1 seed in the East. Morris isn't concerned about that part. It's the attitude they need to carry with them for Wednesday's pivotal Game 5.

"For sure it's going to be hard. They're still a good team. It's Boston," Morris said. "I feel as though, we all feel as though we're the better team even to start the series. This is what we wanted during the regular season when it was chippy and we (were) going at it. We wanted Boston in the playoffs. We got to go out there and act like that and I think we did the last couple of games."

[RELATED: Wizards feel in control as series shifts to Boston]

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson


Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson

The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...

2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Jerome Robinson

School: Boston College
Position: Shooting guard
Age: 21
Height: 6-5
Weight: 188
Wingspan: 6-7
Max vertical: N/A

2017/18 stats: 20.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.1 bpg, 48.5 FG%, 40.9 3PT% (2.3 3PT/5.7 3PA), 83.0 FT%
Player comparison: Danny Green
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 29th, NBADraft.net 16th, Bleacher Report 19th, Sports Illustrated 17th

5 things to know:

*A three-year player at BC, Robinson developed into a big-time scorer before making the leap to the NBA. He averaged 18.7 points as a sophomore and then 20.7 points as a junior while improving his shooting percentages across the board. He went from 42.3 percent from the field as a sophomore to 48.5 in 2017-18.

*Robinson turned himself into an excellent three-point shooter. After shooting just 33.3 percent as a sophomore, he got that up to 40.9 percent as a junior and on 5.7 attempts per game. That trajectory bodes well for Robinson's chances at the next level.

*He has a quick release on his jumper, giving him the ability to be effective on catch-and-shoot plays off screens. Robinson could develop into a reliable scorer who doesn't need the ball in his hands as a primary focus of the offense. He also showed the ability to throw down some powerful dunks and finish with creativity at the rim. He didn't record a vertical leap at the NBA Combine, but playing above and around the rim didn't appear to be a problem in college.

*Though it didn't show in his last season at Boston College, Robinson was adept at forcing turnovers in his first two years. He averaged 1.6 steals per game across his freshman and sophomore seasons and 16 times in his career had three steals or more in a game.

*Questions for Robinson would include his versatility and speed. Some draft evaluators wonder if he will be able to get separation off the dribble at the NBA level. Also, he put up decent rebounding and assists numbers in college but didn't exactly stand out in either category.

Fit with Wizards: Robinson would give the Wizards depth at the shooting guard position and they need that. He could help Bradley Beal pare down his minutes and offer a scoring punch off the Wizards' bench. The Wizards could use a reliable shooter to help space the floor for Kelly Oubre, Jr. and others in the second unit.

The problems with Robinson's fit would be his lack of positional versatility and what appears to be a relatively low ceiling. He's not the freak athlete that some of his counterparts are at shooting guard. If the Wizards are choosing between Robinson and guys like Zhaire Smith and Lonnie Walker IV, they could view the latter two as more enticing because of their potential. Robinson would represent a safer pick while others could pay off big-time and have a greater impact on the franchise in the long-term.

Best highlight video:

More draft prospect profiles:

Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State

Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke

Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy

Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Troy Brown, SG/SF, Oregon

Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State

For more on the NBA Draft, check out our latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Draft prospect profiles on Moe Wagner, Michael Porter, Jr., Grayson Allen and more


Wizards Tipoff podcast: Draft prospect profiles on Moe Wagner, Michael Porter, Jr., Grayson Allen and more

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes was joined by Nick Ashooh and Stefon Marquis to talk NBA Draft. 

They broke down five prospects and their potential fit with the Wizards: Moe Wagner of Michigan, Michael Porter, Jr. of Missouri, Grayson Allen of Duke, Collin Sexton of Alabama and Omari Spellman of Villanova.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!