Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“We feel like [Marcus Morris] needs more of a preseason, so he will be most likely out here for the coming week-plus, and then we’ll re-evaluate after that,” Stevens said. “But they’ve done all the testing. Structurally, the knee is in good shape, but I think it is a quick turnaround to get here last week and play in a regular-season game, so it’s going to be a little bit of time probably before he hits the court.”
Morris, who was acquired from Detroit in the Avery Bradley trade this offseason, made his C’s debut in the team’s final preseason game last Wednesday, as he posted seven points in 11 minutes in a reserve role.
Stevens said the soreness is something Morris was experiencing as he arrived to camp, and that he wants to get him back to 100 percent before he sees the floor again.
“He was able to go through everything. He’s actually structurally improved, he’s gotten stronger, feels better, but we just kind of felt like after watching him practice yesterday and then talking to him, that he still looks like he’s not quite full go, and so it’s better to be on the safe side,” Stevens said. “It’s a long year, he’s a really important part of our team, and so if he’s at 80 percent or 85 percent now, let’s get him to 100 instead of risking that getting lower or something you’re dealing with all year.”
Since the Kyrie trade, Celtic Nation has been clamoring to find out who starts alongside Irving, Hayward, and Horford. It seemed we were moving towards a consensus, as Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris would assume the final starting spots, while Smart leads the second unit and Baynes provides rebounding depth.
Injuries and the US Courts have helped make this final decision. Morris will not play in Tuesdays opener, as he’s expected to miss at least 10 days with a sore knee.
It’s not a huge issue, but the Celtics will be forced to integrate Morris on the fly. Unlike Rozier, Smart, Brown, and Tatum, Morris is an NBA veteran whose expected to contribute immediately. He won’t be afforded the developmental leeway like the young guys, and he doesn’t have the training camp or preseason reps to get him comfortable in a new system.
Morris knows his role in Boston will be different from Detroit. On offense, he’ll find himself with more spot up opportunities and won’t be forced to score in isolation. Defensively, he’ll be tasked to defend both bigs and wings, and he bears a bigger rebounding responsibility.
Chris Forsberg and Jay King have both reported Stevens is leaning on starting Jayson Tatum:
It’s a big spot for Tatum. Of course, it’s only one regular season game. But it’s his NBA debut, and he’s going against the best team in the conference and arguably the best wing of all time (if Lebron plays… we still aren’t sure). Expect him to match up with our old friend Jae Crowder.
Last year, the Cavs and Celtics played early in the season, and Jaylen Brown started in place of an injured Crowder. In 35 minutes, he scored 19 points on 50 percent shooting, and played admirable defense on Lebron. It was a game where he temporarily shut up the draft-day doubters, and he proved he’s not afraid of the big stage.
Tatum has a chance to make a splash on opening night. He simply needs to play average defense and hit open shots to leave the national audience impressed. Cleveland is also trying to integrate several new players, and if Lebron decides to sit opening night, the chances of an opening night win in Cleveland — and a strong game for Tatum — seem all the more likely.
Page 2: Where Kryie Braces for his Return to Cleveland
“It’s just hoops, man,” [Kyrie Irving] said after being asked if he needs to brace himself for the Cleveland crowd. “That’s it.”
It’s hard to believe that Irving can contain his emotions and compartmentalize the scenario to such a level, but it appears that he has done so. Irving is excited for the actual game to arrive, as compared to the fireworks that will surround it.
“The excitement and the energy is there, but I think everything extra has been created by outside influence,” Irving said. “So that’s neither here nor there.
“I don’t necessarily concern myself with that,” he continued, “because if I do I’d really be doing myself a disservice and my teammates a disservice of trying to figure out whether or not I want to give some distractions, or certain people, energy in terms of what they’re saying or what they think about what’s going on.”
Just two years ago, Kyrie Irving hit one of the biggest shots in NBA Finals history, and helped bring a championship to a city haunted by its professional sports failures. Tomorrow night, that city will voraciously boo him.
Maybe we’ll hear a few cheers, and maybe Dan Gilbert will take a page from the Celtics playbook and give him a tribute video. He deserves it. But with everything that happened this summer, he’s not gonna get a warm welcome.
It takes a lot of balls to request a trade after winning the east for three straight years. Nobody willing leaves teams with Lebron James, but Kyrie did just that, and created a simmering tension with the league’s best player.
It’s not uncommon to see star players break up with the cities that drafted them. Lebron was the most famous example. When he returned to Cleveland as a new member of the Miami Heat, the media spent weeks building up that matchup. How does the Cleveland crowd react? Will Lebron do the powder toss before tipoff? If he does, what will the fans do!?
Lebron indeed went along with the powder toss. Nothing happened. He had a huge game and Miami demolished Cleveland. The hype was unsubstantiated because the game pitted the championship favorite versus the worst team in the league.
It’s different this time because Kyrie went to the biggest Eastern Conference rival. Like Lebron before him, he’ll return to boos, but the crowd knows their team won’t get rolled over once the game begins, they actually expect a win.
When asked about this game, Kyrie hasn’t given any eye-popping answers. He’s channelling his inner Bill Belichick, telling the media its “just another game.” But in the back of his mind, I’m sure Kyrie wants to drop 30 on his former team. Tomorrow night will certanly be the most drama filled opening night in recent Celtics memory.
Lebron James didn’t practice Wednesday, a day after he made his exhibition debut after being slowed by a sprained left ankle sustained Sept. 27. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said the four-time MVP is sore and has been ruled out of Cleveland’s final preseason game Friday night in Orlando.
As for James’ status for Tuesday night’s game against the Celtics and former Cavs All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, Lue was non-committal.
“Not sure,” Lue said. “Got treatment all day today, so I’m not sure if we should be concerned or not. But it’s pretty sore today so we’ll just see what happens.”
Lue said James is upset that his ankle is still an issue.
“Pretty mad, pretty pissed off,” Lue said “But I mean, it is what it is.”
Lebron hasn’t missed an opening night in his 14 year career. He’s dealt with a sprained ankle for the past few weeks, and only played in one of Cleveland’s four preseason games. This opening game undoubtedly has more meaning than his previous 14.
Ultimately, Lebron isn’t going to jeapordize his long-term health to play a regular season game. But we know he wasn’t happy when Kyrie requested the trade. Some believe Lebron’s camp leaked the story of Kyrie’s trade request. He felt blindsided and betrayed, and given Lebron’s history of pettiness, he’ll want to get revenge on the court then act like it was “just another game.”
If he plays, the media will focus on the ‘Lebron vs. Kyrie’ angle the entire night. We may even get situations where Kyrie is guarded by Lebron and they have a back-and-forth. If Lebron can’t play, the Celtics are in good position to steal a road win, and Kyrie will have ample opportunity to silence the boos.
The Rest of the Links:
Boston Globe: Kyrie Downplays Return to Cleveland
Providence Journal: Lighter, Quicker Marcus Smart Aims for Strong Season