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First taste of NBA Playoffs has Marcus Morris inspired this offseason

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Detroit Pistons forward Marcus Morris (13) makes a layup while defended by Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) during the first half in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Friday, April 22, 2016, in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Detroit Pistons forward Marcus Morris (13) makes a layup while defended by Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) during the first half in Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Friday, April 22, 2016, in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

This past spring, Marcus Morris got his first taste of the NBA Playoffs. Now the Detroit forward wants to make sure his next trip to the postseason will feel more like a feast.

Five years removed from his standout college career at Kansas, Morris finally reached the league’s biggest stage with the Pistons, his third team. The versatile 6-foot-9 forward even played fairly well, averaging 17.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists, while shooting 46.8% from the field and 38.9% from 3-point range.

Those numbers, however, weren’t nearly enough for Morris and Detroit to upset the Eastern Conference’s top seed and distinct favorite, Cleveland.

LeBron James and the Cavaliers, the eventual NBA champions, disposed of the Pistons in four games. The opening-round exit left Morris eager to get back to work immediately during the offseason.

“I really didn’t want to get swept, but it is what it is,” Morris told the Pistons’ website. “I promise you next year, we won’t get swept again. That’s for sure.”

Still just 26, Morris sounds committed to pushing himself during the league’s vacation months in order to advance deeper into the playoffs next spring.

“I thought I prepared better last year, but I think this year, summertime, I’ve gotten into it earlier,” Morris said last week. “I’ve been working right now and I think once we get past that first round next year, I think I’ll feel better.”

In his fifth season — Morris’ first with the Pistons — he put up career-best averages in points (14.1), rebounds (5.1), assists (2.5) and minutes (35.7), while setting new personal marks in free throws attempted (271) and made (203).

Since Detroit’s first playoff appearance in seven years ended in April, Morris said he has spent much of his time working out in his hometown of Philadelphia and nearby Washington, D.C., where his twin brother Markieff now plays.

The Pistons went 44-38 and were seeded eighth in the East, with Morris as a key contributor, along with Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond, Tobias Harris (acquired before the trade deadline) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Reportedly, Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy appreciated Morris’ ability to hold himself accountable to his teammates.

Now feeling more at home in Detroit, Morris plans to address some personal on-court inefficiencies before the Pistons reconvene for training camp this fall.

“Toward the end of last season, I feel like I fell off a little bit on defense,” Morris said. “I’ve been watching a lot of film and breaking down my shot a lot more. Improving my handle.”

The Pistons, competing in the relatively even playing field of the East (outside of Cleveland), will need all they can get out of Morris to get back to the playoffs or make a jump toward the conference’s upper echelon.

“I’m looking to get better. I feel like I’ve got to go to another level for the team to go to another level,” Morris said.

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