By: Kenny Doyle
The Celtics were instantly criticized when they traded Avery Bradley to the Pistons in exchange for forward Marcus Morris back in July. The move was presumably only made to make cap room so the Celtics could sign Gordon Hayward in free agency, but after seeing what Morris has done so far as a Celtic that may not be the case. Number 13 led the Celtics to their 13th straight win and showed just what the Celtics saw in him with his big game.
Morris dropped 21 points and 10 rebounds, both season highs, and ended the game shooting 67% from the floor. Morris is averaging 13.7 points and 5.7 rebounds through his first 6 games as a Celtic and has made big play after big play of late. He hit the big shot with 23 seconds left to put the Celtics up 3 against the Hornets on Friday night and the shot was ultimately the difference maker after he played great defense on Kemba Walker to seal the win for the C's. Against the Nets, Morris had 11 points in the 4th quarter and kept the Nets at bay with Kyrie on the bench. It's starting to look like acquiring Morris was more than just a money move.
Avery Bradley, who has one year left on his contract before he hits unrestricted free agency, is an All-NBA defender and was the Celtics 2nd leading scorer last year and Morris was a role player on a Pistons team that couldn't make the playoffs. It seemed like a huge loss for the Celtics, but that might not be the case after all. The qualities that Morris has may be more valuable than Bradley's to this Celtics team.
At 6'8" Morris is a lot better at switching onto bigger players than Bradley was and his defensive versatility and offensive creativity are a big reason that the Celtics have won these last few games. Bradley was a great defender, but he always struggled when matched up with players who were much bigger than him. DeMar DeRozan would always have great games against the Celtics in no small part due to the fact that he was usually 5 inches taller than the defender guarding him. Morris is a lot better at creating his own shot and fits the type of switching defense the Celtics want to play much better than Bradley did. Morris was not only cheaper than Bradley, but he's has an extra year left on his contract. Bradley is a great player, but the Celtics may have gotten the better end of the deal by acquiring Morris in the trade after all.
The Celtics starters scored 96 of the teams 109 points in the game and had to carry the players on the bench who really struggled. The Celtics bench scored just 13 points on an atrocious 14.4% shooting and none of them made more than one shot in the game. It was an uncharacteristically bad game from a Celtics bench unit that has really played well all season, but thankfully the starters were able to pull out win. Kyrie and his mask ended the game with 25 points and Al Horford had 17 and 11 on 80% shooting. Hopefully the players on the bench were just saving all their buckets for the Celtics next game where they will NEED them to play well.
The Celtics face their biggest test Thursday against the mighty Warriors and it will take everything the Celtics have to extend their win streak to 14. The Warriors are 11-3 and have a 7 game win streak of their own going. Their last game was a 10 point win against the Magic on Monday and their slow 4-3 start (if you can even call that a slow start) looks to be behind them. The Warriors are the clear cut best team in the NBA and many regard them as unbeatable when they are giving full effort. If the Celtics win that game, this streak may never end.