The Celtics offense is a relentless tide and against the Pacers last night, the two biggest tidal waves were Jayson Tatum and Marcus Morris. Tatum was unconscious in the first quarter, scoring 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, and finished with 20 in 25 minutes. Not to be out done, Morris came on after halftime with 10 points on two shots and was tied as Boston’s leading scorer with 22 and eight boards.
It was an efficient performance from the Celtics’ #2 and #3 scorers behind Kyrie Irving. Irving is currently ticketed for the All Star Game as the Eastern Conference’s leading guard vote getter, but who accompanies him to Charlotte in February? Five-time All Star Al Horford is turning in another solid season (and currently 10th in front court voting). He represented Boston last year and is a coaching and media favorite, but he’s missed a chunk of games this season and has been very deferential on the floor. Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown are still rounding into form and Marcus Smart will never be invited to ASW because they don’t let cobras into The Westminster Dog Show.
That leaves Tatum and Morris. The Celtics could conceivably close the gap between them and the Raptors and Bucks with a home-friendly schedule in January which could warrant two representatives in the ASG. Irving’s in, but there’s a legitimate debate to be had on who could be his running mate. Here we go:
Pro Tatum: The All Star Game is often the anointment of a young player into the brotherhood of stardom. With this Celtics team on the rise and Tatum an emerging star, it’s a no brainer for him to join his fellow Dukie in a game played in North Carolina. In the first batch of returns, Tatum is fifth in front court voting and even if Jimmy Butler takes a spot ahead of him, he’s got the fan vote in his favor.
Pro Morris: That may be true, but remember that All-Star voting is equal parts fans, media, and players. Morris is not a household name, but writers know how important he’s been in steadying the ship for the Celtics. He’s turned in by far his best season ever on 50-44-87 shooting splits. That won’t go unnoticed. He’s making a good case for a big payday this summer (after, by the way, splitting a contract with his twin brother in Phoenix) in a season where he could win Most Improved Player. Let’s also not forget that it was Mook that tutored Tatum in his rookie season. Players, young and old, respect the old dog.
Pro Tatum: That’s enough of that “patience, young grasshopper” stuff. Yes, Morris definitely had a positive influence on Tatum last season, but they call the movie “The Karate Kid,” not “Mr. Miyagi.” Tatum dunked on LeBron in Game 7. Tatum got tutored by Kobe in the off-season. He’s improved defensively this season and made himself a consistent two-way player for the Celtics. Brad Stevens removed Brown and Hayward from the starting lineup, not Tatum. Despite saying that he’d trade himself for Anthony Davis, Tatum will be the face of the franchise (with Irving) for years to come.
Kyrie talking about Marcus Morris and his impressive showing thus far this season.— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) January 10, 2019
According to Kyrie, Morris is the one who is always there to say “it’s not that bad, it’s not that bad. It could be worse.” pic.twitter.com/1gLvyThgOC
Pro Morris: After last night’s blowout over the Pacers, Kyrie Irving pointed to the 29-year-old vet as the voice of reason in the locker room. Al Horford called Morris “impressive,” saying that “he really knows his role, he knows where he needs to be. Going into the season, we didn’t expect this.” His teammates love him and players around the league will recognize his professionalism. After bouncing around the league a lot in his first six seasons, the players and NBA media will reward a journeyman for lifting up his game in a winning situation.
What do you guys think? Tatum or Morris?
Who should be Boston’s 2nd All Star this season?
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