November 21, 2017

Will Markieff Morris injury hurt Wizards’ chances against Celtics?

2017/05/03 7:55 am 7:55 am7:55 am0 0 comments

Does Markieff Morris‘ Injury Hurts Wizards’ Chances Vs. Celtics

Coming into their series with the #1 seeded Boston Celtics, the Washington Wizards were underdogs as it was. Now the Wizards’ chances of an Eastern Conference semifinals.upset got smaller.

Not only because they lost Game 1 but starting forward Markieff Morris went down with an ankle injury. It was surprising to see the rugged power forward crumpled to the floor in pain in the second quarter of that game.

It was especially tough for John Wall, Bradley Beal and the rest of the Wizards. No matter how confident a team, losing a primary contributor knocks the air out of a team. It also impacts the odds, mathematically. BetDSI sportsbook has odds listing Boston now as the -315 series favorite with Washington at +265.

The Wizards looked like they might steal Game 1 in Boston on Sunday as they jumped out to an early 17-point lead. However, Morris rolled his left ankle after he landed awkwardly on Al Horford‘s foot while making a jumper with 7:18 remaining in the second quarter. Morris was down for a while but eventually got to his feet and limped to the foul line to take the free throw and ensure he could potentially return to the game. Morris made the free throw but was subbed out, but didn’t return.

Morris says he’s playing in Game 2, and I’m sure he will try even though the foot was very swollen Sunday night. A sprained ankle only improves with rest so he’s not likely to be 100 percent anytime soon. Coach Scott Brooks wasn’t so confident that Morris would play Game 2. The former Kansas star isn’t close to being Washington’s best player. That would be All-Star point guard John Wall.

So why is Morris so important? He had five points and three rebounds in Game 1. Nothing special. The wheels also fell off for Washington without him because it has arguably the worst bench of any playoff team. Brooks went small in Morris’ spot with Kelly Oubre Jr. starting in the second half. Boston outscored Washington 36-16 in the third quarter to break the game open on the way to a 123-11 victory.

Washington’s starting five of Wall, Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Morris and Marcin Gortat could be better than Boston’s, but the Celtics have a ton more depth. In Game 1, Washington’s starting five was a combined plus-13 while together during the first quarter. The Wizards scored 38 points, shot 61.5 percent from the field and dominated on the boards with a 14-5 advantage. But the starting five never played together again, largely due to Morris’ injury, and all other lineups finished minus-25 for the rest of the game. Oubre was minus-22 in 26 minutes.

In the regular season, the Wizards’ starting five outscored opponents by 8.1 points per 100 possessions. In the first round of these playoffs, that group outscored the Atlanta Hawks by 15.2 points per 100 possessions. The 6-foot-10 Morris averaged 14.0 points and 6.5 rebounds during the season. He’s basically the only stretch 4 the team has. He has enough range to hit 3-pointers – Morris shot 36.2 percent from long range – and is big enough to guard the other’s teams power forwards.  The Celtics’ small starting lineup failed because Morris’ matchup challenge played a role in that.

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“He’s a matchup problem,” Brooks said of his guy. “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.”

Before the Morris injury, the Celtics had pulled down just two offensive rebounds. After he left and the Wizards went small, Boston got 10 more. This from a Celtics team that was one of the NBA’s worst rebounding teams during the season.

BetDSI sportsbook has Boston as a +310 second-favorite to win the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland. Washington is fourth on those odds (behind Toronto) at +1550.

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