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Scott Brooks won't allow Markieff Morris to strong arm him into playing Game 2 vs. Celtics

Scott Brooks won't allow Markieff Morris to strong arm him into playing Game 2 vs. Celtics

BOSTON – Not a whole lot has changed in regards to Markieff Morris’ status for Game 2 vs. the Boston Celtics, but coach Scott Brooks isn’t going to allow his starting power forward to scare him into letting him play with a sore left ankle.  

“He’s going to play tonight if he feels comfortable along with our staff, our medical staff, and myself. (If he doesn’t), he won’t play,” Brooks said after shootaround Tuesday morning. “He’s not going to play no matter how many times he punches me in the face. It’s not going to happen. He is pretty intimidating, but I’m not going to allow him to intimidate me.”

Morris, who rolled his left ankle in the first half of Game 1, got up shots and tested the ankle at a light, 30-minute shootaround but didn’t make any sharp cuts. He rolled it after Al Horford stuck his foot underneath him on a jump shot in Game 1 that Boston seized 123-111.

“I’m feeling cool. Going to talk to my coaches. Game-time decision,” Morris said. “It’s sore but I feel like I can push through it.”

Morris has had a long history with ankle injuries, and he eventually missed time after going down in November in a game with the Miami Heat.

“The swelling has gone down. He’s been diligent along with our staff to get treatments around the clock. You have to factor he has a toughness about him. He has an edge,” Brooks said. “He wants to play. I still don’t know. I’ll find out more probably 65-70 minutes before the game.

“We’re going to do what’s best for him. Every competitive athlete wants to be out there with their team. It’s the playoffs. We’re down 1-0 but with all that being said we’re going to do what’s best for him long-term.”

[RELATED: Celtics' Horford on whether he intentionally hurt Morris]

If Morris isn’t able to go, Kelly Oubre will start in his place. Oubre began the third quarter of Game 1 when Morris didn’t return.

“At this stage, you have to play through some soreness and pain. But you’re not going to play through an injury. We’re not going to allow that. There’s a big difference,” Brooks said. “If you’re hurt you’re going to sit down and get ready to play when you’re ready to play. If you’re sore you’ve got to take a look and test it.

“We don’t want him to be out there (like) Willis Reed, make two shots and sit on the bench, emotional lift. We want him to be able to play and be effective for us.”

Morris will get treatment throughout Game 2 when playing and ride an exercise bike to keep it loose and warm.

He doesn’t know how it will respond unless he’s in real-time action. He said the ankle feels better after he estimated his pain was at a 5 on a 1-10 scale on Monday.

“It went down some,” Morris said of the swelling, “but you don’t really get the full effect unless your adrenaline is going. Me being out here shooting with a little bit of pain won’t be the same as a game when my adrenaline is on 100 so that’s just basically where we’re at right now.”

Morris’ mother wants him to play. His twin, Marcus, wants him to play, too.

Though he respects Brooks’ authority, Morris wants it to be his decision.

“It’s my career isn’t it?” he said.

[RELATED: Morris wants face-to-face meeting with Horford after injury]

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Despite struggles at Oregon, Wizards believe Troy Brown can develop into a good shooter at NBA level

Despite struggles at Oregon, Wizards believe Troy Brown can develop into a good shooter at NBA level

The NBA is so perimeter-oriented these days that often the first statistic cited for a player leaving college for the pros is three-point percentage, regardless of the position. Even big men are expected to knock down threes, for if they can't then there is less space on the floor and like Neil deGrasse Tyson, NBA teams love them some space.

Three-point shooting, however, is not a strength for Wizards' first round pick Troy Brown, Jr., at least not yet. In his lone season at Oregon, he shot just 29.1 percent from long range. Brown can play multiple positions, from point guard to small forward, and shooting is important to be successful at all of them.

Brown and the Wizards, though, are not concerned about his potential to develop an outside shot in the long-term. Brown addressed the issue after his pre-draft workout with the Wizards earlier this month and cited a very specific reason not to worry.

"I don’t think it was my mechanics. I think it was my shot selection this year," he said. "Some of the shots I was taking weren’t very good. It’s about repetition, getting in the gym and putting up shots. I feel like I’ve been doing a good job showcasing that and I feel like a lot of teams are impressed with my shooting."

Brown knocked down plenty of shots in his workout with the Wizards. That helped convince them to select him at No. 15, as they see a guy with potential to become at least a serviceable shooter from long range.

“We’re very confident that we can improve it," head coach Scott Brooks said. "From what I understand, he’s very coachable and he wants to get better. That’s a big part of the step in developing a young player."

Team president Ernie Grunfeld seemed to agree with Brown's personal assessment, that it's not a problem with his mechanics per se. Surely they will tinker with his shot once he gets in their development system. But they don't see the need for a dramatic overhaul.

"He's got a nice stroke," Grunfeld said. "Obviously, when you're a freshman coming up to another level there are different things you have to work on, and we have a really good player development staff and we're going to get him to work right away."

Players of Brown's ilk developing an outside shot at the NBA level is more common than many may think. Just because someone isn't a good shooter in one college season, doesn't mean they will never be able to develop the skill once they mature as a man and a basketball player.

Though Brown's scoring repertoire may seem limited, plenty of players have gone from rags to riches offensively at the professional level. Brown may have to begin his NBA career helping in other ways, like on the defensive end, before his scoring abilities round into form.

Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler could be seen as a best-case scenario example. He made only 36 threes in three years in college and shot just 35.3 percent as a junior. When he was Brown's age, as a freshman he averaged only 5.6 points, and as an NBA rookie he shot just 18.2 percent from three.

Through years of hard work, Butler turned himself into a 20-point scorer with a respectable outside shot, including a career-beset 37.8 percent from three in the 2014-15 season. Some guys take more time than others. At only 18 years old, Brown has plenty of time to figure it out.


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How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

While meeting with Oregon's Troy Brown during the pre-draft interview process, evaluators from the Washington Wizards issued him an on-the-spot challenge. Head coach Scott Brooks pulled out a dry-erase clipboard and a pen. He wanted to see Brown draw up a play.

This is a test Brooks has administered before to other players. Some have failed miserably.

"It sounds easy to throw a board at somebody in front of a big group and say 'okay draw a play' and I have seen many plays drawn, and I have seen it where there are not five players on the floor," Brooks said.

That wasn't the case with Brown. He didn't just draw up one play, he drew up several. One in particular came to mind when asked by reporters on Thursday night soon after the Wizards took him 15th overall in the first round of the NBA Draft.

“I think it was a situation where we were down by two or something like that," he said. "It was like a back screen into a slip, and then the fade three and they gave you a lot of various options to cause mismatches on the court for a last minute shot to either go ahead, or even attack the basket for a layup to go into overtime.”

NBC Sports Washington analyst Cory Alexander, a veteran of seven NBA seasons, demonstrated what Brown's play looked like on a whiteboard:

The Xs and Os of basketball flow effortlessly for Brown and Wizards' brass couldn't help but be impressed.

"He really understands the game. I think for a kid that is 18 years old, that is rare but he just has a good feel," Brooks said. 

"We were impressed with his character and the type of person he is and his basketball knowledge," team president Ernie Grunfeld said. "Obviously, like any young player, he has a lot of work to do but he has a lot of the intangibles that I think you need in today's game."

Smarts are a big part of what makes Brown a good basketball player. He isn't a particularly explosive athlete, with a modest 33-inch max vertical leap, but he boasts a 6-foot-10 wingspan and solid agility. Being in the right place at the right time and knowing how to operate an offense helps him make the most of his natural abilities.

Passing is where his basketball IQ comes in handy. Brown is unusually good at distributing for a 6-foot-7 small forward. He averaged 3.2 assists as a freshman at Oregon and nine times had five assists or more in a game.

He can pass like a point guard and the Wizards are excited to implement that skill into their offense.

"Passing is contagious. We’ve been pretty good the last two years and with talking about that how we even want to take another step," Brooks said. "He has the ability to make a lot of quick plays and his ball handling is pretty good for a guy his size. That is one thing I was impressed in his workout last week or when we had him. He is able to take the contact and use his strong frame to get inside the key and make plays.”


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