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The Marcus Morris appreciation letter

Marcus Morris is hard to love, but that’s what makes him great.

NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

“The course of true love never did run smooth.”

-William Shakespeare

Late in the second quarter of Game 1, the Boston Celtics found themselves down 43-36 and in the mist of a 2nd quarter lull. With the Bucks in possession and looking to add to their lead, Jabari Parker got the ball on the baseline and advanced towards the hoop for a shot that was swatted by Al Horford. The ball was loose on the ground, squirting from the hands of Parker and Jaylen Brown before finding its way into the hands of Marcus Morris.

Parker lunged for the ball and tried to regain possession, but an angry Morris clutched the ball like it was a bag of money. Even when the wrestling match was called off by the officials, Morris swung the ball away from Parker setting a tone that brought the TD Garden crowd to its feet.

The play will read as a personal foul on Parker that led to two free throws for Morris, but in a game that could have quickly slipped away from Boston, Morris’ reestablished Boston as the aggressor. The team went on to outscore the Bucks 8-4 to cut what was once a 10-point game to 4 going into the half.

The quote above has felt like the theme for the Marcus Morris experience all season. For every contested 19-footer there’s a huge three-pointer in the clutch. For every blown defensive assignment, there’s an even higher impact play that brings you back. The beauty of Morris is that there’s nothing smooth. Playing with him in the lineup is a grind—a grind that the Milwaukee Bucks wanted no parts of in Game 1.

In Game 1, the self-proclaimed #BeantownBully went for 21 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 40% from the field, 50% from three, and hitting all his free-throws. One of the biggest reasons NBA teams mortgage enormous assets for superstar players is because they know that in the playoffs, it’s those players that can create for themselves and “cook their own meals,” if you will.

The Celtics don’t currently have any superstars on their playoff roster that fit the bill, but in stretches, Morris gives you a little bit of that magic.

Then on the next possession:

There’s a lot of exciting things in life that people recommend. Skydiving, traveling, eating seafood in Oklahoma, whatever. There is nothing like watching a mad scientist balancing the tragedy and glory of your team every time he touches the floor. It’s easy to critique, but it’s impossible not to love.

In a year when the Celtics were devastated by injuries to stars and key players, Morris has played the flawed hero that only a Celtics fan could love.

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