BOSTON — When he came down on Al Horford’s foot, Markieff Morris crumpled to the ground like he took a baseball bat to the shin. Morris had gone up for a jumper, but al Horford, apparently inadvertently, slid into his landing zone. Morris rolled his ankle 90 degrees on the side of Horford’s foot and spent the next several minute within in pain.
Morris rolling his ankle on Horford's foot when Al crashes into his landing space. Morris went back to the locker room after hitting the FT. pic.twitter.com/yEMojTm4Jz— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) April 30, 2017
Morris eventually was able to limp to the free throw line and take the shot mandatory to allow him to stay in the game. But as he walked back toward the locker room, he watched the rest of the action, knowing that would be it for the night.
Morris was upset and felt Horford made a dangerous play, but calmed down a bit after Horford said a few words of contrition after the incident.
“I took a shot. He stepped right under my foot,” Morris said. “Not sure if it was intentional or not, probably not, but that’s what happened. Rolled it on his foot.”
He remained adamant he will play in Game 2 nonetheless.
“For sure,” Morris told reporters. “Hell yeah. It ain’t broke. It’s what I do.”
Wizards coach Scott Brooks told the media he had no update on Morris, but watched the replay and said, “I watched the video. I didn’t look good, but I don’t have an answer yet.”
Brooks wouldn’t give a timetable, but spoke with the expectation that this could result in some missed time for Morris.
“It definitely changes things but, we have to next man up,” Brooks said. “It was tough losing him but that’s part of it, you have to move on and find ways to compete.”
Morris simply said, “It’s a long series.”
The severity of the injury won’t be known until Monday, but Morris felt this was the worst ankle sprain he’s suffered.
"This was my worst one," he said. "I kind of twist my ankles like this, that's my injury, an ankle twist. But this was by far the worst one. I honestly thought it was broke. They got the swelling to go down a whole lot, but it almost was like the size of a softball."
His teammate John Wall has seen this before, seeing Morris go down with an ankle sprain over and over.
“He was in a lot of pain. We was just hoping it wasn’t his knee. He has a history of kind of spraining his ankles all the time.”
Losing Morris hurt them in Game 1 and will be an issue if it carries forward in the series. The Celtics’ small starting lineup failed and Morris’ matchup challenge played a role in that. He makes it tough for the Celtics to go small and will often close out games at the five.
"He's a matchup problem," Brooks said. "He can score inside. He can score outside. He puts the ball on the floor. He gets six or seven or eight rebounds per game, but he blocks out. He knows how to play. He's a smart basketball player. We definitely missed him, but like I will tell our guys, there's no excuse. We just got beat."
Morris’ injury news will have a big impact on Brad Stevens and the Celtics, who will have to go back tot he drawing board to find a new starting lineup after the Gerald Green experiment came to an abrupt end Sunday. When asked if Marcus Smart, who started the second half, would get the call, Stevens played close to the vest.
“I don’t know what’s – wait and see kind of as the series goes on. And obviously (Markieff) Morris’ availability may affect some of our decisions with regard to how we rotate our bench. So we’ll see.”
The Celtics benefitted from the Rajon Rondo injury in round one and may have the same lucky break in round two. Even if Morris returns, the Celtics are rolling with the fifth straight win and are three wins away from the conference finals.