PHILADELPHIA — When Marcus Morris joined the Celtics for his first practice of the season Thursday, he joked that he might have to play in just one-minute bursts during Boston’s preseason game against the 76ers on Friday.
The Celtics had intended to deploy Morris against Philadelphia, but that plan was scrapped on Friday morning.
“We’ve got to have him have a little bit of a preseason before we throw him into the fire here,” coach Brad Stevens said, “so our hope would be that he might be able to play Monday or Wednesday, but we don’t know that for sure yet. We’re going to make sure that he feels great every day.”
“Just trying to get a couple of [practices] under my feet,” Morris said. “Get more practice, get my work up a little more.”
Morris missed training camp because he was on trial in Phoenix on a felony assault charge. Marcus and his twin brother Markieff were among a group accused of beating of a former acquaintance in 2015. Both brothers were acquitted on Tuesday.
Marcus Morris had been working out with Celtics staffer Alex Barlow in Phoenix, but that was no substitute for actual practice time. On Thursday, Morris took part in an individual workout as well as the team’s practice that followed, and he participated in shootaround in Philadelphia on Friday morning.
“He’s probably feeling like he would after the first day of practice generally,” Stevens said. “There’s a reason you practice for six or seven days before you play your first game. Ultimately, in talking to our training staff and everybody else, it makes a lot of sense to not necessarily ease into this but make sure we’re smart about transitioning into this.”
Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving, for one, is eager to team up with Morris. He said the forward made an impression on him when the Cavaliers met the Pistons in the first round of the playoffs during Cleveland’s 2015-16 championship season.
“I know what he brought to the team,” Irving said. “And for us, the way our offense is predicated on having guys that can handle the basketball and be able to pass and be able to make plays on and off the ball, as well as defensively — I mean he’s able to switch and able to do a lot of things. I’m just ready to get started with him. That was one of the guys I was definitely excited to get here and play with.”
Fast start in victory
Celtics coach Brad Stevens is using this shortened preseason as a chance to experiment with his new team as quickly as he can. On Friday night, Stevens unveiled a new and athletic starting lineup that featured rookie forward Jayson Tatum in place of burly center Aron Baynes.
Tatum drilled his first three jumpers in the opening quarter, and point guard Kyrie Irving offered a taste of his diverse offensive game, pouring in five 3-pointers in 25 minutes to lead the Celtics to a 110-102 win over the 76ers.
Irving finished with a game-high 21 points for Boston, which improved to 2-0 in the preseason. The Celtics had 12 steals and forced 24 turnovers. Baynes, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier each reached double figures in scoring off the bench.
These teams meet again at TD Garden on Monday night.
Praise for Johnson
Center Amir Johnson signed a one-year deal with the 76ers this year after spending the past two seasons with the Celtics. He averaged 6.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game during his time in Boston, but his role diminished a bit as last season progressed. Stevens had some kind words for the big man on Friday.
“Amir has always got a great positivity about him,” Stevens said. “Amir was the guy that walked on the plane with a smile on his face and made sure he spoke to everybody and patted everybody on the back — coaches, players, everybody, regardless of if we won or lost. That attitude and that positivity, that’s really important throughout the 82-game season.”
No captains needed
The Celtics have not had a captain since Rajon Rondo was traded in December 2014, and Stevens said recently that the team would continue that approach this season. Irving said he supports Stevens’s choice to be captain-free.
“Probably when I was in fifth grade, sixth grade or eighth grade, team captains or having the big C on your jersey for everyone to know and identify you as a captain on the team [I would have cared],” he said.
“All the team captain stuff, especially in the highest level of the game, guys put in a lot of time, and to identify one person as just that one player who can have a voice — hey, it’s a tradition that’s been going on for years, but I’m glad that I’m not part of that tradition here with the Celtics.”
Red Claws name Bailey
The Celtics’ G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, officially named Brandon Bailey head coach on Friday. Bailey had worked for the Celtics for six seasons as a video intern, video coordinator, and advance scout. He replaces Scott Morrison, who has joined Boston’s staff.