Atlantic Notes: Morris, Celtics, Crabbe, McConnell

Celtics forward Marcus Morris will be back in action today after missing eight games with a left knee injury, tweets Jeff Goodman of ESPN. The knee has been an issue all season, as soreness caused him to miss the first eight games of the season. Morris is excited about the holiday matchup against the Wizards and his twin brother Markieff. “This has to be history,” Marcus Morris said. “First twins to play on Christmas against each other.”

There’s more news from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics‘ heated rivalry with Washington may not be the same after Boston’s offseason roster shakeup, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. The teams staged a contentious seven-game semifinal series in last year’s playoffs that seemed to cement a long-standing bitterness. But many of those Celtics are gone, Bulpett notes, and today’s game features not only a reunion of the Morris twins but a meeting of Jayson Tatum and Bradley Beal, two St. Louis natives who frequently encourage each other on social media. “We never hated anybody,” said Marcus Smart, one of the Celtics’ holdovers from last season. “I don’t think nobody really hates anybody. As a competitor, you just want to go out there and do everything you can to win. This game is 80 percent mental, and if you can get under your opponent’s skin early, you did half the battle.”
  • Allen Crabbe hasn’t provided the 3-point shooting the Nets expected when they traded for him, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn acquired Crabbe from Portland this summer, finally securing a player the organization signed to a four-year, $83MM offer sheet in 2016. A career 42% shooter from long distance, Crabbe has dipped to 36% since joining the Nets. “It happens. For me the biggest focus is stop settling so much,” Crabbe said. “I know I said the ‘shooters shoot’ quote, and we do. But me trying to find easier ones as well would help the confidence.”
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown was thrilled by T.J. McConnell‘s 15-point performance in today’s win over the Knicks, tweets Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The backup point guard, who has a $1.6MM team option for next season, has become a personal project for his coach. “He wears his heart on his sleeve,” Brown said. “I have a very antagonistic relationship with him. I coach him harder than I coach anybody. I’m so proud of him coming out of left field, being in the NBA, staying in the NBA and now playing in the NBA.”

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