After a one-game absence from the team due to an illness, the Boston Celtics will get Marcus Morris back in action for tonight’s high-intensity meeting with Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors.
Morris will be a welcomed boost for a Green squad looking to avenge their 113-101 loss to the Raptors in their only prior 2018-19 meeting, and with the Raptors holding a 3.5 game lead on the Celtics for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
The 29-year-old Morris is averaging 14.8 points and 6.8 assists this season (both highs among Celtic bench pieces and personal bests for Morris’ eight-year NBA career), is shooting 50.4 percent from the field (and 48 percent from deep).
Morris will undoubtedly help against a Toronto team that’s averaging the eighth-most points from their bench (39.5).
The Celtics, of course, are still waiting for Gordon Hayward to take that next step and look like the player he was with the Jazz.
You’re beginning to see it in spurts — Hayward solid against the Jazz as a distributor, with a season-high seven assists and then totaled three steals in Wednesday’s 111-82 win over the Bulls — but the shots still have not dropped for Hayward. He shot 4-for-12 on Wednesday, and is currently shooting a career-low 39.0 percent from the field and 31.4 percent from deep.
Hayward himself has expressed a willingness to come off the bench if these struggles continue, and though Celtics head coach Brad Stevens acknowledged the frustrations that come with that lack of results, Stevens does seem relatively committed to getting Hayward’s overall game back on track with minutes and on-court repetition. Even if the shots aren’t dropping yet.
“I think [Hayward] would probably tell you he wasn’t happy with [his game] just because he had a few looks that didn’t go down,” C’s coach Brad Stevens said after Wednesday’s game. “But he makes a lot of the right passes. I thought when he was matched up with [Jabari] Parker [Wednesday] he was very good. We just need him to be kind of the jack of all trades that he is and find his playing rhythm and transition back into playing at a high level through that.
“That’s not easy, but that’s what we need.”
The Celtics come into play with wins in four of five games at TD Garden this season. Stevens and the Celtics have been victorious in three straight home games against the Raptors dating back to Feb. 2017.