Category Archives: Marcus Morris

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Recap: Celtics pull wings off Hornets and eat them to snap losing streak

IN A NUTSHELL
This game was as close to a true must-win as the Boston Celtics have had this season thus far, because four straight losses gets to be A Thing, and not just in the alarmist Boston sports media landscape. Playing a defensive-minded Charlotte Hornets team also served as a dress rehearsal for the true test against Philadelphia coming on Christmas Day.
After a closely fought duel in the first frame between Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker, Boston began pouring on the punishment from both ends of the floor in the second and didn’t look back. The final winning score, 119-103, wasn’t remotely reflective of the beatdown they unleashed against the Hornets in a much-needed, well-executed team win.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Kyrie started off on a breakneck kick, with seven of Boston’s nine unanswered points in the opening minutes en route to 17 in the quarter (and 25 for the game). But the primary reason for the Celtics’ success was—BRACE YOURSELF FOR THIS SHOCKING REVELATION—returning to lineup arrangements that fueled the 8-game win streak.
There now exists too much evidence to downplay the potency of the Irving/Smart/Tatum/Morris/Horford starting five, as well as the success Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward have off the bench. (I’ve given the latter a hard time in some moments, but he’s accepted the benching without an iota of public complaint and continues to show assorted signs of resurgence, like a strong two-handed dunk in that second quarter.) Other points:

The Celtics forced Kemba Walker to work mostly alone, with Jeremy Lamb offering the only other meaningful offensive contributions. (Part of that is Charlotte’s clunky roster, but Kemba aside, they played massively out of whack by any standard.)
That 2nd quarter was the Cs’ highest-scoring frame of the season, with 39 points. At times, the lead eclipsed 30 points.
Team rebounding looked more like what it should be, a mercy after two brutal humiliations and the creator of many second-chance field goals in this game.
Horford looks like his old self and proved once again how, in many ways, he is the stabilizing spine of this Celtics team.
But Marcus Morris is currently one of this team’s most consistent two-way players, and deserves plenty of credit for bringing his own brand of muscle to the starting lineup.
Jayson Tatum continues his low-key murder streak with another 17-point performance.

WHAT WENT WRONG
Just small points:

Hayward’s shooting is still incredibly inconsistent.
Brown got in unfortunate early foul trouble that limited his playability and shot poorly, in the precise inverse of his Milwaukee performance.
Also, his attempt at a lob to the Timelord…did not go well. (Couldn’t find video, or this’d be in the section below.)

WHAT THE HELL
Williams’ face, in particular, after the Hayward slam is hysterical:
GREEN FIRE HIGHLIGHTS
The aforementioned Hayward jam:
Kyrie gunning:
Uncle Al and Kyrie working their magic:
For posterity, just felt like I couldn’t not include this beautiful image:

Box score


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Recap: Celtics overcome abysmal first half to triumph in OKC

As of this evening, according to Basketball Reference, the Boston Celtics lead the NBA in defensive rating per 100 possessions and opponent points allowed per game. They are also dead last in in offensive rating per 100 and second to last in points per game. Their 2-2 record is solely based on defensive proficiency—and, in the Knicks game, a fair bit of luck. The Orlando freaking Magic torched them worse than the Raptors did, and in the first quarter of this contest vs. OKC, it looked like more of the same. Only by virtue of defense were the Thunder up by teens rather than 20-plus.
Should we be worried about this? I’m not worried, this is f—

I mean, it is fine. This is the fifth game of the season. Just because the NBA year starts in mid-October now doesn’t make any panic occurring right now less unearned. Right? Totally. Look at this pretty dunk:

.@jaytatum0 throws it down to end the first pic.twitter.com/thAaVjqBQJ
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 26, 2018

They ended Q1 on a solid 8-0 run and they’ve kept it within the margin of error so far in the sec—

OK, this is starting to get bad. The shots still aren’t going in; Kyrie looks like he might be feeling a tidbit of knee pain and just missed consecutive free throws, which never happens; GH isn’t even trying to shoot, though he’s rebounding reasonably and putting in serious defensive effort; Uncle Al is fouling a ton and looks kind of tired. Also Jaylen Brown’s rough start to the season might be troubling me more than anything else with this team. Only Tatum is keeping the Celtics even halfway alive. Boston is down 16 at the half—50-34 Oklahoma City—and shooting 0-11 from de—

At least Westbrook is also shooting poorly, though he basically always does that and it didn’t stop him from winning the 2017 MVP over Point Harden and God Disguised as Kawhi Leonard, because triple-doubles though—
ANYWAY. IT’S COOL EVERYONE THAT’S WHY BASKETBALL GAMES COMPRISE FOUR QUARTERS NOT TWO.
And then, with all the sudden orgastic joy of Sir Galahad riding suddenly into the kingdom to bring peace and prosperity amid grim horrors and goat-demons named Alex Abrines, the three-pointers came. Eight in number for the quarter, beautiful as the night, terrible as the moon. Westbrook barely has more points than Stevenadamwhodrinks69beers (ask @HebertofRiffs about it) and is shooting with far less efficiency. The Celtics would, when the smoke cleared, have scored more points in the third quarter (40) than they did in the first half (34). Horford hit three triples en route to 19 in the game while Tatum nailed fadeaway after layup after free throw without seeming to attract much attention. I’m not sure quite why, but it felt like Horford and Marcus Morris were drawing defenses in more, especially the latter due to his ISO-heavy tendencies. (Tatum’s biggest highlight play came in the quagmire of the first half; more on that later.) For approximately 20 seconds, they had a two-point lead, but they were most definitely not out of the woods.
If Boston were to end up losing this game, it wouldn’t have been the worst thing. They proved they hadn’t lost their ability to regroup after messing up, something that didn’t look within their repertoire in the Orlando game. PROCESS OVER RESULTS KAIZEEEEEEEEEN. During most of the fourth, it looked like we were heading for what a smart coach—Popovich, Stevens, Spoelstra, Doc, Gentry, Kerr, Dwane Casey in the regular season—considers an instructive loss and a lesser or more insecure coach—Thibodeau, Brooks, Donovan, Scott Skiles, Dwane Casey during the playoffs—obsesses over as one does as personal slight. And given how far we’d come from that putrid first half, that would’ve been OK.
Then this happened.

TIE GAME. pic.twitter.com/29y5r1EwTB
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 26, 2018

That’s why Danny brought him here, and paid what it cost to do so. That’s why he will in all likelihood pay Kyrie the five-year, $188 million max. He made one of the most famous three-point shots in NBA history, and may well make several more of massive importance. He had the aptitude and confidence to note how OKC started to tear itself apart—once again failing to run an organized offense in deference to Russell Westbrook on full-tilt hubris—and shred a defense for a gorgeous floater.
Credit where due to the actual go-ahead shot, though:

Marcus Morris = CLUTCH! #CUsRise pic.twitter.com/uj9qxxTULv
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) October 26, 2018

Free throws by Morris and Horford put icing on the cake, 101-96. Tatum kept them from ruin during the game and the veterans sealed it, but the whole squad had to recover to ensure the W.
In summation:

“the weak should fear the strong”-Kyrie Irving-1844
— joylesspud (@joylesspud) October 26, 2018

Box score


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