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Wednesday, 19 July 2017 21:43

How Paul Pierce Convinced Marcus Morris That Boston Is Perfect Place to 'Compete for a Championship'

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BOSTON -- Don't worry about Marcus Morris having any lingering doubts about playing under the bright lights and pressure of championship expectations in Boston.

All he needed to hear were the words of Paul Pierce to make him feel right at home.

"It was unexpected. It was just a little new. It was unexpected because I didn't have any idea. I didn't know there was a trade looming or anything. It was just unexpected. I found out about it at 8 o'lock in the morning (during) workouts," Morris said in a conference call Wednesday afternoon. "Unexpected but once you told me who it was, I mean how could I be upset about going to the Boston Celtics?

"Paul Pierce has always been my favorite player, reached out to him, see if I could get some work in with him. How could I ever have a bad thought about it. At the end of the day I'm a competitor. I want to play against the best. I want to play for championships. When I go into Boston, every day I'm going to put my hard-hat on. I think that's going to make guys better and make me better. I'm ready to compete for a championship."

When he found out about his trade on July 7, he immediately thought of Pierce.

"Yeah, we communicated. I asked him if he's coming to Boston or while I'm out in LA, could I get in the gym with him. Not just working out but picking his brain, picking his brain about Boston," Morris continued. "First thing he said to me when we were talking was I was going to love it. That's all I needed to hear. I didn't think I wouldn't but from a guy like that, who's been in Boston so long and done so many great things, it kind of made it easier for me."

Pierce opened the eyes of Morris of just what the expectations are for reaching the NBA Finals in Boston. And he's clearly embracing it.

"It's exciting. This is the first time in my career where I can actually say that I have an opportunity to get to the Finals and an opportunity to compete for a championship, and I'm excited," Morris said. "I think that fans in Boston are going to really enjoy what I bring to the game. I think I fit right with these guys."

Morris was traded to Boston for Avery Bradley on July 7 to clear cap space to help the Celtics sign Gordon Hayward to a max four-year, $128 million contract. But he was also acquired to add some toughness and rebounding to Brad Stevens' front court.

After stints in Houston, Phoenix and Detroit, Morris said he is convinced that Boston is the perfect fit for him alongside the likes of Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford and Gordon Hayward. He played with Thomas in Phoenix and he played alongside new Celtics big man Aron Baynes in Detroit.

Baynes said earlier in the day at the Celtics training facility that he's looking forward to working with Morris to bring toughness to Boston's front court.

"I don't think that's the thing you work on," Morris said. "You've just got to that type of attitude. I think it's just in me and instilled in me to bring that toughness. That's something we won't have to worry about.

"He's always been a true professional," Morris said of the 6-10 Baynes. "He's always been one of those guys to work extremely hard, that gets the job done. You can count on him. He's a tough guy. At practice, he competes at the highest level every day. Since I've been in Detroit with him, he came and brung it. That's the type of guy you want to play with and not against. I'm happy he's on our team. I think he's going to be a big, major piece for us.

"I see myself fitting in anywhere Coach wants to put me. I'm one of those guys that's interchangeable from the 2 to the 4. I think it's easy just plugging me in anywhere, tell me what he needs done or what he sees the best in me, and just go from there."

Marcus Morris was a fixture in the stands during the Eastern Conference semifinals when his twin brother Markieff when up against the Celtics in a seven-game battle to the finish. There were even some jokes that when Markieff came back quickly from an ankle injury in Game 2, it was twin Marcus filling in incognito.

"I always root for Isaiah Thomas," Morris said. "We've been close and played in Phoenix and know him from college so I always root for him and want him to do well. Obviously, I didn't want Boston to win because my brother played for the other team," Morris said. "But I love the competition. They were out there competing, talking trash and I think that kind of made the Eastern Conference a little stronger. The way those guys battled it out for seven games. It's going to be funny with me being in Boston. But at the same time, man, I'm a professional and my brother is a professional. It's definitely going to be tough and there's definitely going to be trash-talking. But at the end of the day, I'm in Boston. I want us to win. Joining the rivalry just amps it up. Probably get a little more TV time.

 

"When we play each other it's almost like playing against myself at times because we work out all the time together. We know each other's moves, we know what each other likes. So, it's rare that I fake him out and he won't know what I'm doing. We're close, we work out, we just got finished working out together. The thing about us is we're going to compete. It doesn't matter who is in front of us, if it's each other, whoever it is, we're going to compete. It's definitely going to be a tough matchup. It's definitely going to be exciting and fun to watch for the fans."