Was Marcus Morris right?
Before the series tipped off, Marcus Morris had something to get off his chest. When asked about guarding LeBron James, he responded by saying he could guard the best player in the NBA better than anyone besides Kawhi Leonard.
Naturally, everyone laughed at Morris’ statement. But after a strong showing in Game 1, I can see why he was so confident. Morris played superb defense on LeBron all night. At no point did James take over. Compared to OG Anunoby last round or Lance Stephenson in the first round, Marcus Morris did look like Kawhi Leonard.
Now, how much of this is a coincidence and how much of this reality? That will be revealed in the following days. But based off of this one game, Marcus Morris shut down LeBron by limiting him on defense and scoring more points than him on offense (21 points to 15).
And it wasn’t just Morris. On every shot, every post up, every one-on-one matchup the Celtics made LeBron work. Like guarding Ben Simmons or Giannis Antetokounmpo, every player on the floor carried out a great defensive plan. The bigs stepped in to limit easy layups. The guards closed out with ferociousness and quickness, not allowing LeBron to rack up assists or require everyone to stay out on the perimeter while James worked down low.
The last time LeBron was held to 15 points or fewer in a playoff game was last year, against the Celtics, in the Game 3 loss. Prior to that, he hadn’t done it since 2015. That is no coincidence.
Without a doubt, Morris will get the start again in Game 2. His excellent three and defensive abilities will be needed once again.