Markieff Morris was upset with the Wizards’ lack of toughness after a 129-119 overtime loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 2. Here’s what he had to say after the game on Tuesday:
“We're not playing tough enough. We had the advantage late in the game and all we had to do was just play tough. We didn't have to make shots. We didn't have to get stops. All we had to do was play tough. We let them get offensive rebounds late in the game. Guys (were) just walking to the basket and we're just worried about our own personal (expletive). It's about the team.”
No one can blame Morris for being upset. Even though he was playing on a sore ankle, he was very efficient in Game 2, going 6-11 from the field and finishing with the highest plus/minus on the team. He also had a block and two steals in the game.
And while Morris stressed playing through pain wasn’t about setting an example, perhaps his performance, coupled with his talk after the game, could jump start the Wizards in Game 3.
Although the Wizards outrebounded the Celtics 44-41, Boston won the rebounding battle in the fourth quarter and overtime 17-12, thanks in part to grabbing six offensive rebounds in that stretch. The Celtics controlled the glass even though they went with a smaller lineup because they were better at scrambling to loose balls, which Morris brought up after the game.
"That's what they do. When they go small they play tough. Guys going in head first. That's what we got to do. It's the playoffs. Every possession counts. We seen that tonight when those guys got those offensive rebounds, got those extra possessions to win the game."
"We emphasized when we watched film that that's what they do when they go (with a smaller lineup. They play tough. They've got guys that are going in head first. That's what we've got to do. It's the playoffs. Every possession counts."
Washington’s defensive struggles go hand-in-hand with their struggles rebounding late in the game. When the Celtics get the Wizards out of position trying to cut off penetration or close out on shooters, it’s harder to get box people out which leads to offensive rebounding opportunities and more chances for the Celtics to score.
The moral of the story is that the Wizards need to play tougher if they want to win, but they also need to be smarter. They need to continue to grab their rebounds, including in clutch situations, but in order to do that, they need to defend better and keep the Celtics’ small, closing lineup from scrambling to loose balls. Hopefully Morris’ words inspire a better effort moving forward.