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Wizards feared Markieff Morris would miss time vs. Celtics with injury

Wizards feared Markieff Morris would miss time vs. Celtics with injury

BOSTON — All systems are go for the Wizards going into Game 7 vs. the Boston Celtics tonight.

Bojan Bogdanovic is over his illness and Markieff Morris will end up starting every game of the semifinals despite a severe left ankle sprain that even had coach Scott Brooks in doubt.

“I’ve seen a guy that’s a fighter," said Brooks of Morris, who didn't return in Game 1 after Al Horford slid his foot underneath him on a jump shot.

"When he landed on Horford that put him in a tough position going forward. .. . There’s been a few games where we thought, 'Maybe he's not playing tonight.' He’s sucked it up every night. … Certain things you’re going to fight through and he has the toughness to fight through it."

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Morris has been hot and cold in the series, but was key on both ends in a 92-91 win in Game 6 at Verizon Center. Morris had 16 points and 11 rebounds and defended Isaiah Thomas on his last-second heave at the end that went long. 

On Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, Kawhi Leonard, who like Morris had a sore ankle entering the series, went down when Zaza Pachulia did something similar to Horford. Leonard didn't return and the San Antonio Spurs unraveled in their upset bid of the Golden State Warriors.

It's a dangerous play that's not ruled a flagrant by league officials, but the consequences can be so severe maybe it should be. 

"I can't imagine a player wanting to hurt another player on purpose but I’m not saying it’s never happened," said Brooks, who spent 10 years a pro.

"There’s been dirty players in this league’s history and there are dirty players now. You just have to be careful. Referees are going to have to do a great job monitoring it. It is a dangerous play. A guy goes up for a shot, he’s focused on landing on a smooth surface. Not on a Nike."

Morris been up front with his anger towards Horford, and he threw him to the floor in Game 2. It's that kind of edge the Wizards will need to have a chance to win Game 7 in TD Garden, a place they've failed at every year since 2014. They're 0-5 this season.

"Going into the last game it was sore," Brooks said of Morris' ankle. "Talked to him today. He feels great. Looking forward to tonight’s game."

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Mystics star Kristi Toliver excited to officially join Wizards coaching staff

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USA Today Sports

Mystics star Kristi Toliver excited to officially join Wizards coaching staff

After months of serving a variety of roles for the organization, Kristi Toliver now has an official title with the Washington Wizards. The Mystics star has joined Scott Brooks' staff as an assistant coach and assistant for player development.

Toliver, 31, will remain a member of the Mystics, who play their season during the summer. The lack of overlap will allow her to focus much of her time on the Wizards and what she hopes becomes a long and successful coaching career.

She chose joining the Wizards over continuing to play professionally this year overseas, an option many WNBA players use in the offseason. But she has a coaching dream and happens to have caught on with the hometown team.

"This is the opportunity of a lifetime. When it came about, I wanted to be involved in any capacity that I could," Toliver said.

Toliver is the first active WNBA player to serve on an NBA bench and just the second woman after Becky Hammon, who is an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs. Toliver plans to reach out to Hammon after getting her phone number from Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird.

Toliver is honored to be in the same category with Hammon, whom she looked up to first as a player and now as a coach who has become a trailblazer in the profession.

"I know she's going to be somebody that I can ask questions to," Toliver said. "I will pick her brain about how she played and I will pick her brain about how she is coaching."

Hammon joined the Spurs' coaching staff in 2014 after years of helping the team out in other ways. Now that there are two female NBA assistants, the logical question is when one will become a head coach.

Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal can already attest to Toliver's impact and said there could be a female head coach "very soon."

"I wouldn't be surprised if it happened sooner rather than later," Beal said. "If you know the game, you know the game. Plain and simple."

Toliver has served as a coach in the Wizards' 5-on-5 scrimmages at practice. She has also been particularly helpful with ball-handling, which makes sense given she's the starting point guard for the Mystics. Toliver has helped a variety of Wizards players in dribbling drills including the big men like Jeff Green and Dwight Howard.

Coaching has required an adjustment for Toliver, who is used to having the ball in her hands running the offense. But just as being a player can help her as a coach, she expects to become a better player now seeing the game from a new perspective.

"I'd much rather be playing, I know that. But it's good to think the game in a different way and from a different point of view," she said.

Brooks has been effusive in his praise of Toliver ever since she began helping out in the Las Vegas Summer League in July. He invited her to join the staff over the phone shortly before the Summer League began and will admit he did not know at the time the relationship would get this far.

But over the summer, Brooks lost two assistants to other teams in Chad Iske and Sidney Lowe, paving the way for some movement on his staff. He promoted several positions from within and an opening was created for Toliver to come on board.

"She's a special talent. She's going to be moving through the ranks pretty quick," Brooks said.

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Mystics' Kristi Toliver joins Wizards coaching staff for 2018-19 season

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@WashMystics

Mystics' Kristi Toliver joins Wizards coaching staff for 2018-19 season

It's certainly not uncommon for professional athletes to make the transition into coaching following their playing days. We have seen more and more of this in recent years throughout sports, especially with younger coaches getting the chance to lead teams. 

What is uncommon is when a professional athlete begins their quest for life after playing while they're still playing. 

Washington Mystics veteran guard Kristi Toliver is joining the Wizards' coaching staff, the team announced Tuesday. 

The news comes after the 10-year WNBA pro got her feet wet on the Wizards' bench during Vegas Summer League play in July. 

Along with Elena Delle Donne, Toliver helped lead the Mystics to the 2018 WNBA Finals, before ultimately falling to the Seattle Storm. 

The 31-year-old was drafted third overall by Chicago in 2009 after leading her Maryland Terrapins to a national championship in 2006. 

Toliver will serve as an assistant coach and focus on player development for head coach Scott Brooks. 

Coach Brooks also welcomes Robert Pack and Ryan Richman to the front of the bench. Pack served as assistant coach under Brooks for two seasons during their Oklahoma City Thunder days while Richman led the team during summer leage play and is entering his fifth year in Washington. 

The Wizards open their 2018-19 regular season Thursday against the Miami Heat inside Capital One Arena. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

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