Boston Celtics: Marcus Morris shows up when it matters most

Boston Celtics: Marcus Morris shows up when it matters most

Before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris made the questionable decision of calling out [VIDEO] the Cleveland Cavaliers and claiming that he was better suited to defend LeBron James than anyone in the National Basketball Association other than Kawhi Leonard.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are now playing for the right to make their fourth consecutive NBA Finals, but in all likelihood, the looming free agency of their resident superstar LeBron James is on their minds as well.

Put Kevin Love's name atop the list of the Cavaliers that walked out of Cleveland's 25-point Eastern Conference finals Game 1 loss to Boston a little staggered, but with an unbowed head.

But he didn't seem to play with the same force after straining his neck in a first-half collision and the Cavaliers wilted in the second half, with the Celtics outscoring them 59-39. It is just one game, and it wouldn't be out of the question for LeBron to turn around and roll off several consecutive wins now to win the series with it looking easy by the end of it, but perhaps there are some real lessons that can be learned from that game for how the Raptors handled Cleveland.

Again, it's hard to believe James will be as weak as he was in game 1 (15 points, 7 turnovers, 31.3% from the field), but even if he's at his best, it might not be enough anymore.

Al Horford said Tuesday morning ahead of shootaround that the key heading into Game 2 is, "Just understanding that this is another challenge". The Celtics are not scared to go toe-to-toe with a team that has ruled the East with an iron fist since LeBron James' arrival in 2014 - and for good reason.

But the Celtics had success on Sunday, holding James to 15 points - his lowest turnout in the playoffs this season - and forcing him to turn the ball over seven times.

Celtics humble Cavaliers in National Basketball Association playoff series opener
Of course, the Cavs missing 14 straight 3-pointers helped. "We got a lot of guys where we just don't care", Marcus Smart said. How about this answer: "We weren't ready to work on defense as hard as they were working on offense". "It's not just me".

By that time, Boston led 61-35 - the biggest halftime playoff deficit in James' career.

Kevin Love had 17 points and eight rebounds, and James added nine assists and seven boards. The best player of his generation averages 20.3 points per game with a paltry 14.6% shooting from three-point range in the last 12 games he's played against a team including Morris.

"I have zero level of concern at this stage", said James, who was five for 16 from the floor and missed all five three-point attempts. "We try to do it with as many bodies as possible, and then we've got to guard the other guys".

His NBA-record streak of 18 games with at least 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists was broken as Morris and the Celtics band of long-armed athletes worked their defensive magic. "He's going to approach this game as one he's going to have to lead and bounce back". I've been down 0-1.

"It's definitely something we have to weigh", Lue told reporters Monday.

The Celtics started the game with a great run, giving Lebron and company fits on every possession. "As role players, we've got to play our role". That, JR Smith said, is a sign James' supporting cast needs to do more. But Thompson isn't a cure-all; he may help them win a matchup, but they're going to need a lot more if the Celtics play like they did in Game 1 on Tuesday night.

While he usually plays much better at home than on the road, Rozier was a bit of a no-show in Game 1.

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