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Can the Celtics Make a Deep Playoff Run?

Eric Saar takes a look at the Celtics to see if they have what it takes to make a deep playoff run.

Eric Saar

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The Cleveland Cavaliers, powered by LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and the Toronto Raptors, led by Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, are the two favorites in the Eastern Conference. But could the Celtics be the sleeper, that dark horse that upsets either team and makes it to the conference finals?

For a team that prides itself on teamwork, equality, and defensive intensity, Boston relies heavily on All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas. The last overall pick in the 2011 draft has proven his doubters wrong and has put together his best season yet. In doing so, he has managed to lead the Celtics to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Thomas holds the Celtics record for most consecutive games leading the team in scoring, logging 18 such games with 20 or more points. Beyond scoring, Thomas is also averaging 6.2 assists per game (tied for 14th in the NBA) and may potentially get a nod on one of the All-NBA teams. The problem for Boston is that if an opponent can shut Thomas down, it will be pretty difficult for the Celtics to manufacture points.

Another thing going for the Celtics is Brad Stevens, who has established himself as one of best coaches in the league. The Celtics benefit from his meticulous game planning and this will likely be even more important in the postseason where Stevens will be able to focus on one team. When an opponent finds a way to attack the Celtics, Stevens and his staff are as capable as just about any other coaching staff to adjust, an understated but important part of playoff basketball.

Stevens has coached Boston into a top team as the Celtics are eighth overall in total point differential and fourth in the Eastern Conference. Additionally, Stevens preaches ball-movement unselfishness and discipline. As a result, the Celtics are sixth in assists per game and rarely turn the ball over. Boston is tied for sixth in assist to turnover ratio with the Atlanta Hawks. Their 1.78 ratio is only behind the San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Charlotte Hornets and Dallas Mavericks. This sort of discipline will be especially important in the playoffs, where electric crowds and elevated emotions can lead teams to make careless mistakes. If any team can keep its cool and take advantage of those mistakes, it’s these Celtics under the steady leadership of Stevens.

Hard, swarming defense is a staple of the current Celtics squad and another reason they could make a deep run.

They are fifth in opponent field goal percentage, holding opponents to 43.9 percent (only behind the Hawks, Clippers, Warriors and Spurs). Additionally, they are second in opponent three-point percentage, holding their opponents to only 33.3 percent behind the arc, which ranks only behind the Indiana Pacers (33.1 percent). Both of those defensive metrics are difficult to achieve and maintain over the course of a season and are quite impressive.

The Celtics are great at causing havoc and turnovers. They cause their opponents to turn the ball over a league-high 15.9 times per game. Additionally, they generate the second-most steals per game (9.3), just behind Houston (10.0). However, they don’t get many blocks, as they are 23rd in the league, averaging only 4.2 a game as they don’t have an elite rim protector on their roster. While having a great rim protector isn’t an absolute necessity in creating a strong defense, it is important. Not having a strong rim protector could hurt the Celtics in the postseason.

With an active, disciplined defense and Thomas running the offensive attack, the Celtics have their method for success, but what is their path towards the conference finals?

Path to a deep run out East

Seemingly, the Cavaliers have all but locked up the number one seed, with the Toronto Raptors securely in second. Also, the Detroit Pistons seem to be the seventh seed and the Indiana Pacers are on the verge of securing a playoff berth and keeping the Chicago Bulls out of the postseason. That just leaves the third through sixth seeds to be determined between the Celtics, Hawks, HEAT and Hornets.

As things stands, these teams can only face each other in some combination in the first round. More importantly, the four squads are still vying for only two home-court spots, which is always important in the postseason.

As of now, the Hawks and Celtics are tied (Hawks have the tiebreaker) and the HEAT and Hornets are a game back of them (HEAT have the tiebreaker).

Remaining schedules

The Celtics have a tough remaining schedule as they still have to play at Atlanta and at home against Charlotte and Miami. These are all games against opponents they are jockeying with for seeding and therefore each team has something to play for.

Meanwhile, the Hawks have that home game against Boston, then go play in Cleveland (who has nothing to play for and might rest players), then in Washington (who has nothing to play for except to play spoiler in the final game of the season).

The HEAT first host the eliminated Orlando Magic, then travel to Detroit (who will still be trying to hold off the Pacers so they don’t have to face Cleveland in the first round), then go to Boston for their final game. The Hornets have two games against eliminated teams in Washington and Orlando and a matchup with the Celtics.

Anything can happen in the final week of the regular season with so many matchups between these organizations jockeying for seeding.

How do the Celtics stack up with these teams?

Boston, of course, wants home-court. But with or without home-court advantage, they’ll be playing one of the three other teams previously mentioned in the first round. So how have they stacked up this year against the potential first-round opponents?

In the Celtics-Hawks matchup, Boston is down 1-2 with one game remaining. In November, the Celtics won by 13 at home, then 11 days later lost in Atlanta by 24 points. The other game was in December where the Celtics lost by eight at home. Unfortunately, this doesn’t tell us much about the matchup since the games were played so long ago. Each team has gone through ups-and-downs, injuries and other issues, so we may not know much about how they stack up until the next time they meet. What we do know is that the Hawks have been firing on all cylinders defensively over the last few months, which could be problematic for the Celtics’ offensive attack.

In the Celtics-HEAT matchup, Boston is up 2-0 with one game remaining. The first game, played back in November, was a 10-point victory and the second was a 12-point victory back in February. Based on this, it would seem Boston has a slight upper-hand, but Erik Spoelstra is another top-tier coach, evidenced by his ability to adapt on the fly after losing All-Star forward Chris Bosh.

In the Celtics/Hornets matchup, Boston is also up 2-0 with one game remaining. Both games were in December pre-Christmas, so there isn’t much to glean, but the Celtics won by five and 13 points.

That’s just the first round. Then logically they’ll either have to face the Cavaliers or the Raptors in the second round, depending on seeding.

The Celtics are 1-2 against the Cavaliers this season including a 12-point December loss, a one-point February victory, and a 17-point March loss. It’s not the greatest matchup for Boston, but they have to face them eventually if the hope to advance. The Cavaliers are a talented, but volatile team. In a potential matchup, the Celtics have to hope that the Cavaliers fail to maximize their huge talent, giving Boston a chance to level the playing field.

Boston is also 1-2 against the Raptors this year. These included a six-point January loss and a 16-point March loss, followed five days later by a 12-point victory. This could be a good matchup for the Celtics. They may prefer either the third (or sixth) seed in order to face the Raptors in the second round. Still, Lowry and DeRozan have been playing better than anyone reasonably expected all season and will be difficult to contain (though the Celtics’ perimeter defenders are better-equipped to handle this assignment than most teams).

Celtics can hang with anyone

The Celtics have the ability to play up to their competition. For instance, Boston almost broke the Warriors’ streak back in December. In Boston, it took 38 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and 2 steals from reigning MVP Stephen Curry and double overtime to preserve the Warriors’ stream (24-0). Draymond Green also had to contribute 24 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and five blocks. Notably, Klay Thompson was out with a sprained ankle for that game. The Celtics were led by Kelly Olynyk’s 28 points off the bench and five other players were in double figures scoring in a team effort.

The second game was on April 1, at Oracle Arena in Oakland on the second night of a typically brutal road back to back (following a loss in Portland to the Trail Blazers). The Celtics came away with a narrow 109-106, victory snapping the Warriors’ 54-game home winning streak, which dated back to last season. The Celtics were led by Jared Sullinger, Isaiah Thomas and Evan Turner, who all had 20 or more points. They were without probably their best defensive and most versatile player, Jae Crowder, who was out due to injury.

Other playoff teams the Celtics have beaten this season include the Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Miami HEAT, Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Detroit Pistons and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The list of the current playoff teams the Celtics haven’t beaten at least once this season includes only the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks. And they wouldn’t face either of those teams until a hypothetical Finals matchup.

Considering all of this, it seems fair to reason that the Celtics can be that dark horse in the East. They have a top-level coach in Stevens, an All-Star point guard that leads their offensive attack, versatile perimeter defenders, solid role players and a disciplined approach to the game. They don’t have the star power that most of the other playoff teams have, but with a steady leader in Stevens and an aggressive style of play that could fluster opponents, especially in playoff atmospheres, the Celtics seem to have a viable chance at making a deep playoff run.

Based in Arizona, Eric Saar is an analyst for Basketball Insiders. He has covered the league for several years. He loves to converse about the NBA on Twitter, so follow him at @Eric_Saar. Eric graduated with honors from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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NBA Daily: Three Teams Failing Expectations

Expectations were extremely high for three teams entering this season. A variety of factors have derailed their trajectory but there may still be time to address their issues and turn their seasons around.

Chad Smith

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Every offseason presents the opportunity for organizations to revamp their rosters in hopes of improving their team for the upcoming season. Between the NBA Draft and the free agency period, executives are busy around the clock. The flurry of phone calls and internal discussions among management is key to molding the future.

But the league found itself in an unfamiliar position this past year with the delayed season, the playoffs in the Orlando “bubble” and a shortened offseason that went by in the blink of an eye. The first preseason game tipped off exactly two months after the final game of the NBA Finals. The turnaround was quick and complicated for everyone involved.

That said, several teams were able to capitalize on the abbreviated turnaround. The Phoenix Suns knocked it out of the park with the Chris Paul trade and signing of Jae Crowder. The Charlotte Hornets nailed the draft and free agency, as Michael Jordan landed both Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball. The New York Knicks found success in the draft with Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin. The Brooklyn Nets added excellent role players in Bruce Brown and Jeff Green while re-signing Joe Harris, who has been worth every penny.

Some teams appeared as though they had hit a home run, only to see the ball being caught at the warning track. The hype and buzz surrounding these teams were well warranted at the time, but things just haven’t panned out for a variety of reasons. With the All-Star break finally here, these three teams would welcome the idea of hitting the “undo” button on their offseason moves.

Toronto Raptors

The Raptors find themselves sitting two games under .500 entering the All-Star break. While they are certainly not out of contention, they are a far cry from where most people thought they would be at this point. It began with a rocky start to the season, where they dug themselves a massive hole with a 2-8 record.

The crux of their struggles came with their frontcourt issues. Both Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka took the Kawhi Leonard route from Toronto to Los Angeles in the offseason. Losing one of their big men hurt, but losing both of them was crippling. The signings of Aron Baynes and Alex Len looked okay on paper, but the fit could not have been worse. Toronto currently ranks dead last in rebounding as a team.

Toronto ended up waiving Len, while Baynes has seen his role reduced even more. Fortunately, the emergence of Chris Boucher and Norman Powell has helped the Raptors turn their season around. Draft picks Malachi Flynn and Jalen Harris haven’t had a major impact, but Pascal Siakam finally snapped out of his bubble fog and Kyle Lowry is healthy once again as well.

One good thing that the Raptors were able to do in the offseason was retain their sensational guard Fred VanVleet. Toronto has seemingly turned things around over the past few weeks and, considering they are playing all of their home games 1,400 miles away from their arena, they are positioned for a much better second half of the season.

Dallas Mavericks

Last season, the Mavericks boasted the best offense in the entire league, led by MVP-candidate Luka Doncic. The goal for them in the offseason was to acquire a defensive presence that could get this team more balanced. It appeared as though they addressed that when they traded Seth Curry to Philadelphia for Josh Richardson. Unfortunately, that has not been the case early on.

Dallas was also looking for an upgrade at the center position, but they missed out. They ended up having to settle for bringing back Willie Cauley-Stein on a two-year deal for $8.2 million. As a team, the Mavericks rank 24th in rebounding. James Johnson has been a solid addition, but he alone was not nearly enough to upgrade their porous defense.

Kristaps Porzingis has been quite inconsistent this season, so it is difficult to know what they are going to get from him every night. He is nowhere near the defensive presence that he was during his time in New York. Richardson is the guy that Dallas has been waiting on to provide outstanding perimeter defense, but he too has been unable to piece it together on a nightly basis.

The Mavericks did not find anything in the draft and it seems as though, once again, Doncic is having to do everything for this team in order for them to have success. His 36.2 percent usage rate is the highest in the league and that doesn’t appear to be going down anytime soon. If you are going to give the keys to the entire offense to someone, he is a good choice but Dallas struck out in terms of giving their franchise player more help this season.

Atlanta Hawks

No team had won the offseason quite like the Hawks. The organization was able to surround its franchise player with truckloads of talent in free agency. They added elite shooters like Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari. They added key defensive guards in Kris Dunn and two-time champion Rajon Rondo. They even scored more talent in the draft, taking Onyeka Okongwu with the sixth overall pick.

Atlanta lost no players of significant value, either, as general manager Travis Schlenk added to his already loaded young nucleus of Trae Young, John Collins, Clint Capela, Cam Reddish, De’Andre Hunter and Kevin Huerter. The problem here is that there are just too many overlapping pieces.

The veterans that were brought in either haven’t been able to get on the floor or are taking up valuable minutes for the younger players, potentially stunting their growth. The workload has been spread thanks to their depth as they deal with all of the injuries but there is no chemistry on the floor. In a season where practice time is near non-existent, that is a real problem.

The Hawks hit the All-Star break in 11th place in the Eastern Conference with a disappointing 16-20 record. The game is being played in their backyard, yet they don’t even have a player to represent them. And, in recent days, it’s gotten even worse; the team officially fired head coach Lloyd Pierce on Monday, with Nate McMillan set to take over as interim coach.

Atlanta has played 36 games this season. Their nine best players have missed a combined 143 games. Not including Dunn, who hasn’t played all season, that number is still well over 100 games missed. This locker room is a mixed bag of players that lack leadership and desperately need guidance. Pierce wasn’t the answer and Vince Carter isn’t walking through those doors anytime soon.

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NBA Rookie of the Year Watch – March 5

Two rookies have pulled away from the rest of the pack in the hunt for the Rookie of the Year award. Tristan Tucker breaks down how the rookie pyramid is shaping up halfway through the season.

Tristan Tucker

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The All-Star break is nearly upon the NBA, and the Rising Stars rosters were just announced with several rookies leading the charge. Two players have pulled away by a significant margin in recent weeks, with several first-year players making impacts on winning teams. Let’s take a look at how the rookie ladder has changed over the last two weeks.

1. LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets (Previous: 1)

February was kind to the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month, who’s ascended to another level of stardom in the NBA in just his first season. The rookie is averaging 20.1 points, 6.7 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game during that span. Since Basketball Insiders’ last update to the rookie ladder, Ball put up a stretch of five 20-plus point games, including a 30-point showing against the Portland Trail Blazers and a 24-point, 12-assist game in Charlotte’s wild win over the Sacramento Kings.

One of the concerns surrounding Ball when he entered the league was his ability to knock down jump shots at an effective rate. The 6-foot-6 point guard has shattered those concerns with his recent play and knocked down 40.7 percent of his attempts from downtown in just under seven tries per game.

When Charlotte parted ways with Kemba Walker in the summer of 2019, it would’ve been far-fetched to imagine that the Hornets would be stacked at the point guard position in just two years. However, with Ball and Terry Rozier, the Hornets are looking at a legitimate shot at the postseason.

2. Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings (Previous: 2)

Together with Ball, Haliburton has all but cemented this Rookie of the Year race as a two-party contest. It gets harder to not give Haliburton the top nod with each passing week; the rookie out of Iowa State is completely dominating off the bench for the Kings. Though he’s missed the last three games for Sacramento, Haliburton is averaging 17.4 points, 6 assists and 2.4 steals per game while shooting a very impressive 47.9/39.4/85.7 line in five games over the last two weeks.

Haliburton’s excellence extends beyond his scoring, as the Kings are 1.5 points better when Haliburton is on the floor. Furthermore, the 6-foot-5 guard boasts an assist percentage of 24.6, which ranks in the 97th percentile of all NBA players and a 1.33 assist to usage clip, which ranks in the 100th percentile.

The Kings have to feel good about their young core in spite of their record, especially with Haliburton earning Western Conference Rookie of the Month honors and a spot on the Rising Stars roster.

3. Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks (Previous: 5)

Before the season, nobody would’ve guessed that the Knicks would be the fifth seed at the halfway point of the season. Head coach Tom Thibodeau and improved veteran play from All-Star Julius Randle and others have sparked the franchise’s turnaround. No player, however, is more synonymous with that spark of energy than Quickley.

Since the last ladder update, Quickley is averaging 13.5 points on a staggering 48.4 percent clip from deep. When the team acquired Derrick Rose, Quickley’s playing time was in the air, but the rookie’s resilience and determination have kept him in the lineup as he continued to exceed expectations.

4. Saddiq Bey, Detroit Pistons (Previous: 6)

Bey’s placement here should be representative of the overall fantastic job the Detroit Pistons have done with all of their young pieces. Bey is obviously playing great — more on that later — but other draftees Isaiah Stewart and Saben Lee are playing phenomenally as well. Then there’s the case of resurgences in Josh Jackson — averaging a career-high 13.5 points per game — and Dennis Smith Jr., who was just acquired and posted a triple-double in a blowout win.

But, in a year that many thought would be a throwaway for the Pistons, especially with seventh overall pick Killian Hayes sidelined, Bey and the rest of the young corps along with Jerami Grant and company have stepped up and delivered exciting basketball to Detroit.

Over the last two weeks, Bey is averaging 11.7 points and 5 rebounds per game while shooting an impressive 37 percent from deep on just under eight attempts per game. If Hayes pans out, the 2020 NBA Draft is shaping up to be a turning point for the Pistons.

5. Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves (Previous: 3)

If Edwards could hit shots at even a 45 percent clip, there’s little doubt that he would be running away with the scoring title of all rookies and perhaps the Rookie of the Year award itself. However, it continues to be a hindrance, as Edwards is shooting a horrid 32.8 percent from the field and 25.4 percent from 3 in the last two weeks.

It’s unfortunate that the shooting is so inconsistent, as he’s put together a string of four 19-plus points per game contests and several highlight-reel plays across the span of the last two weeks.

The last two weeks brought a lot of turmoil to light for the Timberwolves, with the team undergoing a head-coaching change, bringing in Chris Finch from the Toronto Raptors to replace Ryan Saunders. But that’s not all, as Ricky Rubio recently voiced displeasure with the team’s performance and D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley continue to be out.

With all the drama surrounding Minnesota, it’s hard to envision any rookie seeing much success there. The fact that Edwards is able to put these high-scoring performances together at all is telling of how special a talent he can be.

6. Jae’Sean Tate, Houston Rockets (Previous: 4)

Tate’s on-court production has dipped slightly in conjunction with the Houston Rockets’ losing streak, but the hyper-athletic forward is still giving it his all on a nightly basis. Look no further than the fact that the team is parting ways with DeMarcus Cousins for proof that Houston believes in Tate as a member of its future.

Houston plays better when Tate is on the floor, per Cleaning the Glass. And with that comes rejuvenated energy from all points on the court. When Tate is on, the team’s offensive rebounding percentage increases by 8.1 percent, which ranks in the 98th percentile of the entire NBA. 

Even though the Rockets are in a slump, Tate is averaging 9.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game on 47.9 percent shooting from the field. Most recently, he enjoyed a double-double in James Harden’s return to Houston.

Honorable Mention: Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers (Not Ranked)

Okoro gets his first rookie ladder nod after the Cleveland Cavaliers saw a fantastic stretch in which the team won four straight games. During that span of time, Okoro averaged 10.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals while seeing season-best shooting figures of 49.1 percent from the floor and 41.4 percent from three.

The 6-foot-5 forward out of Auburn has played the second-most minutes of any rookie and has started in every game for the Cavs, a promising start to Okoro’s career. Okoro is also playing strong defense for a Cleveland team that desperately needs good defenders and his stock could rise as the weeks go on.

With a multitude of highlight-reel dunks, passes and plays in just the last two weeks, several rookies are making big impacts on teams in a year where young depth is crucial. While Ball and Haliburton are currently leading the race, don’t sleep on James Wiseman to make a resurgence, as he scored 14, 11 and 16 points, respectively, in his first three games since returning from injury. Be sure to check back with Basketball Insiders for the next rookie ladder to see how tight this competition gets!

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NBA Daily: Marcus Morris Thriving Off Bench

Marcus Morris has been one of the Clippers’ most dependable reserves this season, David Yapkowitz breaks it down.

David Yapkowitz

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When Marcus Morris Sr. came over to the Los Angeles Clippers last season near the trade deadline, he stepped right into the starting lineup at power forward. He started all 19 regular season games – including the bubble – and when the team re-signed him this past offseason, he looked like a lock to remain in the starting lineup.

But he’s been one of the main anchors of the Clippers’ second unit this year and coming off the bench was something he requested of new head coach Tyronn Lue. Along with Lou Williams, the pair have spearheaded one of the most formidable bench units in the NBA. The pair has combined for 24.8 points per game on the season and they’re both shooting lights out from three-point range.

On a call last month with media, Morris admitted that this dynamic pairing with Williams was exactly what he was envisioning when he initially asked to be part of the second unit.

“Building that chemistry with me and him both coming off the bench, we’ve to be one of, if not the best bench in the league. Both of us are proven vets, proven scorers in this league,” Morris said. “I think our camaraderie, us being really good friends, I think that helps on the court. Not just scoring but just being vets, being able to talk and being able to lead our unit.”

As well as he’s played this season, it wasn’t always such a smooth transition to the Clippers. Morris’ numbers dropped last year from his career averages and he shot 31 percent from the three-point line; the lowest he’s shot since his second year in the NBA. Like most of the team, he faded a bit during the team’s second-round playoff debacle against the Denver Nuggets.

This season, although his scoring isn’t as high as it used to be at 12.4 points per game, Morris’ shooting has been much more efficient. His 46.3 percent from downtown is a career-high. He looks much more comfortable in the flow of the offense and he’s played his role to perfection. Naturally, Morris credits Lue with helping him establish his role.

“I think the biggest difference is just having that exact from [Tyronn Lue] just talking to me and telling me exactly what he’s wanting me to do. Last year, I thought I was a lot of times in no man’s land, I couldn’t really put my finger on my role,” Morris said.

This year, I’m coming off the bench to be aggressive, coming off to bring energy, shoot the ball, the guys I’m playing with just playing off them. Lou does a great job of drawing the defense and you have to have guys that can knock it down. I’m just here to do whatever it takes, whether it’s to bring energy or to score.”

Morris began the season missing the first eight games due to a knee injury. But he’s always been one of the more durable players in the league and since then, he only sat out one game. Thankfully for him, he didn’t end up needing surgery only rest.

Lue has been quite pleased with Morris’ contributions this season. He credited Morris’ conditioning while acknowledging the extra work he’s put in to be as effective as he has.

“Just putting in the work, just trying to get his body right, just trying to adjust to the speed of the game, when you’ve been out for so long it is kind of tough to just step back in and play well,” Lue said. “We’ve been needing and asking more from him in the post, rebounding the basketball and, of course, shooting the basketball. He’s been great and he’s been putting in the work. You see the results.”

Like the rest of the team, Morris has been able to shut out any lingering effects from the bubble. He knows the Clippers have championship aspirations this season and, because of the way they flamed out in the playoffs, there will doubt as to whether this team is capable of winning a title.

“Seeing how many people jumped ship last year, I think it definitely helped us. That’s how it works when you have a good team and doesn’t work, people tend to jump off the ship,” Morris said. “We get back to work and we get a championship, people will jump back on the ship. That’s just how it works. We are going to continue to find our camaraderie and we are going to continue to get better. Come playoff time, we’re going to be ready.”

And for the Clippers to win their first championship in franchise history, they’re going to need Morris to be at his best. His versatility is key to their attack, while that ability to stretch the floor with his three-point shooting –plus putting the ball on the floor or posting up – is a big part of what makes the Clippers so dangerous.

He’s willing to do whatever needs to be done.

“I’m a hooper. Whatever you need me to do. One thing I do, I don’t just talk,” Morris said. “I’m just playing. I’ve been in the league for a long time, going on my eleventh year. It doesn’t change for me. One thing you’ll find out about me is I’m never too high, never too low.”

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