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The Read & React: don’t sleep on Marcus Morris

Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics

Greg Cassoli: It took until the game's final minutes, but eventually we got a little back and forth between the league's leading candidates for Rookie of the Year, Jayson Tatum and Ben Simmons. Their performances were a nice microcosm of their seasons as a whole. Simmons finished with a more robust stat line, finishing the night with 15 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, and 5 steals. Tatum scored 15 as well but mustered only 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal. The majority of his points came in the clutch, however, and his efforts helped get his team the win.

Simmons' performance will catch more eyes, but Tatum had a greater positive impact. That kind of reality is one that likely lands Simmons the mantle of ROY, but just remember what happened when the two met in the paint.

Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics

Bill Sy: After Aron Baynes was inserted into the starting lineup in a game that Joel Embiid sat out, there was some chatter in the post game interviews about Marcus Morris’ preference over starting or coming off the bench. His answer: “next question.”

He acknowledged later that with Kyrie Irving in the starting lineup, he’s the point guard and most of his looks come off spot ups and attacking close outs, but off the bench, “...when I can my chance with the second unit, I kind of get my post-ups, pull ups, stuff like that.”

Morris finished the night with a solid line of 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists in nearly 28 minutes. He’ll get that workload whether he’s in the game at the tip or as a designated scorer with Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. Check out Keith’s great piece from yesterday about how he’s probably better suited with the second unit. He’s a very polished scorer who can hit shots from anywhere on the floor and be a facilitator off the bounce or on the block, but I don’t think he gets enough credit on the defensive end.

Al Horford is the anchor of the D, and Jaylen Brown usually draws the toughest assignment to start the game, but since his return from injury, Morris been a versatile defender playing both roles. Last night, he went head to head against rookie phenom Ben Simmons and didn’t disappoint.

After Philly’s game against Cleveland, LeBron James told Simmons that “he could be better than me.” Funny thing is, Marcus Morris is one of the best defenders against LeBron, and he shut down his protege Thursday night. Morris has fantastic footwork for a guy his size, and that helps him so much on defense. He’s able to keep his chest in front of a driver’s shoulders so that they can’t turn the corner.