There has been a lot of chatter this season about the impact Marcus Smart has on the Celtics when he’s in the starting 5. Rightfully so, he’s been awesome but I’m here to talk about the other guy they entered into that starting 5, Marcus Morris (excuse my language…Marcus Morris Sr.*).
There’s no secret here, Mook has been a difference maker for the Celtics on both sides of the ball. He’s shooting career high marks across the board and is averaging a career high in not only points (14.9) but rebounds (6.2) as well.
If you want to get nerdy with it he also impresses when you take a gander at his advanced metrics. Career highs in offensive rating, net rating, Dreb%, Reb%, effective field goal %, true shooting %, and lastly, PIE.
He’s playing the best basketball of his career and has silenced any speech about him not having a spot on this team. It’s went from “maybe he doesn’t have a spot with everyone back” to “we need this guy on the court every single night, 25+ minutes per night”. I know I sound like a broken record cause I’ve alluded to this so many times but, imagine where they would be without his contributions. His splits tell the story as he plays substantially better in games they’ve won and has slightly better numbers in games that he starts.
He acts as a sort of X-Factor with all of the firepower at Boston’s disposal. With guys like Kyrie, Tatum, Hayward, Al, etc. littered throughout the roster it’s easy for Morris to get lost in the shuffle. When teams are game-planning for the Celtics, Morris tends to fade into the background in regards to who the opposition should key in on the most. This season, he’s reaped the benefits of this and with the help of a Brad Steven’s offense, has gotten some wide open looks that he’s been knocking down at a high clip. Brad knows that teams will more likely than not key in on other guys and he’s regularly taken advantage of that this season with his play calls. Brad is so creative and can run a myriad of different actions to get Morris open. He’s not afraid to call Morris’ number in big situations either as this play earlier in the season versus Phoenix still sticks out to me.
This is a perfect example of Brad using Kyrie as a decoy in order to get Morris a clean look. He makes it seem like they’re trying to just get Kyrie a head of steam but instead has Morris leak out off of the handoff and it pays dividends with a wide open look.
We’ve seen this in the past from Brad and last season we had another example of him using others as decoys for Morris. Remember his game winner last year versus the Thunder?
Tatum draws multiple defenders and then kicks it out to an open Morris who pump fakes an off-balance Paul George and drills the game winner.
Under Stevens, the amount of open looks per night he gets has ballooned from his earlier years in the league. Look at the the passed 4 seasons for Morris and the breakdown of how open his shots are.
The move to Boston has coincided with a heavy increase in open/wide open shots for Morris. Nearly 60% of his shots the past 2 seasons in Boston are of the open/wide open variety and I attribute this to smart play calling and an effort to get Morris free.
While the offense has been built to make Morris succeed he deserves credit as well. While he’s gotten open looks, he’s been knocking them down at a high rate. As I mentioned earlier on, he’s shooting at a career clip and that’s something we haven’t seen from Morris until now. He’s a volume scorer by nature and usually you’ll live with lower shooting percentages if he’s producing points. This year has been different, he’s become an efficient volume scorer and that’s frightening for the rest of the NBA. The Celtics are starting to show the offensive firepower they possess the last couple of weeks and Morris throws another monkey wrench in the plans of the opposition.
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