A Time to Worry: Celtics Postseason Concerns

lovegtm

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Because the Celtics' standard this year is championship or bust, and because there are legitimate concerns that can get mixed in with day-to-day regular season worries, I thought I'd start a thread in which people can voice concerns specific to the upcoming postseason run. It's only 21 games away!

To orient things, the Celtics are very likely the 1 or 2 seed, barring a collapse or tons of injuries. That probably means a 1st round matchup with the Heat/Hawks/Raps/Nets, and a 2nd round against Cleveland or Philly.

My Worries
  1. TL's health. If he's not himself, or has to miss playoff games, Al has to play a lot of C, and then you have to give Kornet/Blake minutes, which means you are playing your 10th men significant minutes while better players sit.
  2. Offensive stagnation prior to crunchtime. Against playoff defenses, and more physicality, the Celtics may have trouble maintaining their drive-kick-drive-kick game, which would lead to lower quality 3s. We'd be lamenting "shooting luck", and they'd be headed into crunchtime tied or behind a lot, instead of up 10, which matters. Imo, this pre-crunchtime offensive stagnation was the cause of most of their midseason woes this year.
  3. Tatum having to figure out who he is too often, and having too many bad games as a result. Every superstar has weaknesses: Giannis can get consistently walled off by waves of burly defenders, Embiid can get doubled effectively, etc. Tatum's kryptonite is teams rotating into the lane consistently and stopping him from getting a rhythm. Then, if his 3s don't fall, and the opponent recovers well to shooters, the offense can go dead. He usually figures things out eventually, but games get dropped while he goes through that process.
Things I'm Not As Worried About
  1. Home court. I know you're supposed to care about this a lot, because it feels lazy to "punt" the regular season. But I just don't think it matters tons relative to health and execution.
  2. 2nd and 3rd round opponents. The Bucks are head and shoulders above everyone, and you have to play them to make the Finals. Barring an upset, you also have to play one of Philly or Cleveland, and I don't think one is a better matchup than the other for Boston. I might even rather play Philly.
  3. 1st round opponent. I know no one wants to play Miami, but I just don't think they're as good this year as in prior years. I remember in 2021 when everyone made a big deal about the Bucks needing to avoid them, and then Milwaukee just trashed the Heat. I think this year will be similar.
  4. Crunchtime offense. I know it's trendy to worry about this one, and I do worry about it some. I just think it will flow from the offensive approach in the first 42 minutes: if the team is able to maintain offensive flow early, they'll be in better positions late, but also have a better rhythm to work off.
 

ifmanis5

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The rookie coach. It'll be his first playoff run and in-game tactics aren't exactly his strong suit.
Can Al and TL hold up once the games start going every other night.
When they don't hit their 3s, it can get ugly offensively.
 

benhogan

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TimeLord's health is #1, 2 & 3 for me. Disruptive when he's moving well. He's a wrecking ball on D and in the back of every opponent's mind when they go to the rim.

I'm not terribly worried about Joe Mazzulla, but a rookie Head Coach in their first playoffs is less than ideal. Miami's coaching edge would not be significant enough to scare me, but they may be able to steal a game or two with a gimmicky defense. Same with Toronto.
 

Mooch

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A sneaky concern (without stats to back it up): Jaylen’s close/late free throw shooting.
 

bosockboy

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You’re always vulnerable when your first team All NBA player has frequent off nights. Tatum’s inconsistency as well as Mazzulla possibly having to sit Marcus in key situations (because they are more effective with Brogdon/White) are my two big ones.
 

m0ckduck

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I'm not terribly worried about Joe Mazzulla, but a rookie Head Coach in their first playoffs is less than ideal. Miami's coaching edge would not be significant enough to scare me, but they may be able to steal a game or two with a gimmicky defense. Same with Toronto.
I thought Udoka was really exposed last spring— those Bucks and Heat series felt like 6 games series that got stretched to 7 because the C's didn't come out prepared for either G1. (Granted, G1 vs Heat had a "schedule loss" element to it... but, then, they have easily lost G1 vs. the Nets as well, so let's say those two cancel out). G1 vs. Milwaukee was especially egregious IMO— we looked utterly indecisive in the face of the open looks MIL was giving us from deep, which has only been their defensive philosophy during the entire Budenholzer era.

So, yeah, I worry about a repeat of that under Mazzulla: the team constantly having to play out of 0-1 series deficits rather than setting the tone early,
 

lars10

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Player rotation.. they have a very deep bench, but in many big games this year Joe has just kept the starters in for long stretches… like the whole 4th quarter or similar..

Last night for instance.. Hauser, Kormet, Muscala, Pritchard, and even Griffin played a combined 2 minutes.. Hauser was the only one that played… and it wasn’t like the starters dominated. I think the bench is the Celtics strength.. and I’m not advocating for a ton of minutes for them.. but they can provide energy when the team is struggling, IMO. I know rotations get shorter come the playoffs, but the Cs have starter level players on their bench.. run the other team into the ground and use your depth to your advantage. Especially with Embiid and Gianis.. don’t know why you just wouldn’t relentlessly pound them with fresh bodies.. Make them work all game for the whole series.
 

lars10

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You’re always vulnerable when your first team All NBA player has frequent off nights. Tatum’s inconsistency as well as Mazzulla possibly having to sit Marcus in key situations (because they are more effective with Brogdon/White) are my two big ones.
Tatum’s numbers per game are the highest of his career this year.. he’s averaging 4 points more per game this year.. looks like he mainly struggles against Philly when it comes to scoring. As someone has posted in the game thread.. he’s actually been very good against playoff teams and other mvp candidates.
 

Mystic Merlin

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You’re always vulnerable when your first team All NBA player has frequent off nights. Tatum’s inconsistency as well as Mazzulla possibly having to sit Marcus in key situations (because they are more effective with Brogdon/White) are my two big ones.
Is this true? Smells like you are remembering the mediocre games but not the ten good/great ones he will have in a row in a given stretch.
 

Eddie Jurak

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Because the Celtics' standard this year is championship or bust, and because there are legitimate concerns that can get mixed in with day-to-day regular season worries, I thought I'd start a thread in which people can voice concerns specific to the upcoming postseason run. It's only 21 games away!

To orient things, the Celtics are very likely the 1 or 2 seed, barring a collapse or tons of injuries. That probably means a 1st round matchup with the Heat/Hawks/Raps/Nets, and a 2nd round against Cleveland or Philly.
This is all correct, particularly the bolded. In part because winning is hard, other teams are always trying to improve, and injuries happen, and no matter how rosy the situation may look for a team, it can all fall apart very quickly.

As the 1986 Celtics basked in the glow of banner #16, there was no good reason to think that team was not going to win again. Bird and McHale were at the top of their game, everyone who mattered from that team was coming back, and they were about to dradft the most explosive star in college basketball at the time. There were very good reasons to be concerned about the health of Bill Walton, but the what actually happened was much less foreseeable: within that year, Walton was a total nonentity, Len Bias OD'd, and McHale - in the midst of a career year - suffered a career altering injury. Two years later Bird did the same.

The same thing happened after 2008. The 2008-09 Celtics were actually better, right up to the point where Garnett got hurt, missed the playoffs, and - while remaining very good - was never the same. They did advance to the finals one more time, only to be derailed by another injury (to Perkins).

No guarantees. This Celtic team looks to have dynastic poteintial, but all things equal they are probably more likely to win 0 rings than >2.
TL's health. If he's not himself, or has to miss playoff games, Al has to play a lot of C, and then you have to give Kornet/Blake minutes, which means you are playing your 10th men significant minutes while better players sit.
I don't have any comment on TL's health (beyond agreeing it is a concern) because it is hard to get a read on it. It is clear that Rob has made some changes in playing style: career low block rate for example. He isn't throwing himself around with reckless abandon as in the past. The Celtics defense isn;t as effective as it was during the second half of last year before his injury. But he is rebounding better than last year and still making plays. Is the style different because he is hurt/injured or because he is trying to adopts a less risky style because he is healthy and wants to stay that way. Will he/can he ramp up his game in the playoffs? I don't know.
Offensive stagnation prior to crunchtime. Against playoff defenses, and more physicality, the Celtics may have trouble maintaining their drive-kick-drive-kick game, which would lead to lower quality 3s. We'd be lamenting "shooting luck", and they'd be headed into crunchtime tied or behind a lot, instead of up 10, which matters. Imo, this pre-crunchtime offensive stagnation was the cause of most of their midseason woes this year.
This is fair enough. There seem to be long stretches of game play where the Celtics offense just doesn't score.
Crunchtime offense. I know it's trendy to worry about this one, and I do worry about it some. I just think it will flow from the offensive approach in the first 42 minutes: if the team is able to maintain offensive flow early, they'll be in better positions late, but also have a better rhythm to work off.
The reason I worry about this is because I think a lot of the good Celtics offense might not carry over to the playoffs. So the late game struggles we see now might be a windown into offensive struggles more generally int he playoffs.

I also worry about whether we are going to revert largely to the "Tatum or Brown initiating everything" approach that was a disaster against Golden State. When the late game offense has White on the bench and uses Brogdon (if he is outt here) in a purely spot up role, while the defense plays at a lesser level than last year, I see cause for concern.
The rookie coach. It'll be his first playoff run and in-game tactics aren't exactly his strong suit.
Can Al and TL hold up once the games start going every other night.
When they don't hit their 3s, it can get ugly offensively.
I think Mazzulla will be outcoached, tactically, by the better coaches. I don't think that means the Celtics won't win, or that Mazzulla will be a net negative, but I think the margin for error will be a bit smaller because he is rookie coach.
 

RorschachsMask

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Is this true? Smells like you are remembering the mediocre games but not the ten good/great ones he will have in a row in a given stretch.
Games with sub 55% TS.

Tatum-17
Giannis- 17
Luka- 13

Embiid and Jokic have way less, but he’s right in line with the other two.

I’ll check later, but last I saw, Tatum was averaging 31 a game on a 62% TS against top 5 defenses. Obviously went down after last night, but I think it’s just a case of remembering the stinkers more.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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My only concern is health, particularly JT's health. That fall against IND where he landed on his wrist couldn't have been great.

It's funny you started this thread since Adam Kaufman said on CsBeat on Friday that this was the first Cs team in a long time that he didn't have any reservations about. The Cs are deep, talented, versatile, and experienced. The roster is about as good as it gets in today's NBA.
Last night for instance.. Hauser, Kormet, Muscala, Pritchard, and even Griffin played a combined 2 minutes.. Hauser was the only one that played… and it wasn’t like the starters dominated.
JB lead the team in minutes with just shy of 37. JT had 36:26. The reason the guys you list didn't play is because the Cs are super deep.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Games with sub 55% TS.

Tatum-17
Giannis- 17
Luka- 13

Embiid and Jokic have way less, but he’s right in line with the other two.

I’ll check later, but last I saw, Tatum was averaging 31 a game on a 62% TS against top 5 defenses. Obviously went down after last night, but I think it’s just a case of remembering the stinkers more.
You can’t really group Jokic and Embiid in with the wings either as they get so many uncontested layups due to their size and footwork in the paint. The last thing I worry about on this team is Tatum. I sometimes wonder how much Celtics fans would complain about Giannis and his face-up/3-pt jumpers, Doncic’s defense, LeBron’s whatever, Jokic/Embiid’s lumbering body language, etc. if they played here. Appreciate greatness…..we are so freakin lucky to have Tatum here.
 

lovegtm

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I thought Udoka was really exposed last spring— those Bucks and Heat series felt like 6 games series that got stretched to 7 because the C's didn't come out prepared for either G1. (Granted, G1 vs Heat had a "schedule loss" element to it... but, then, they have easily lost G1 vs. the Nets as well, so let's say those two cancel out). G1 vs. Milwaukee was especially egregious IMO— we looked utterly indecisive in the face of the open looks MIL was giving us from deep, which has only been their defensive philosophy during the entire Budenholzer era.

So, yeah, I worry about a repeat of that under Mazzulla: the team constantly having to play out of 0-1 series deficits rather than setting the tone early,
This one actually makes me feel better about Mazzulla, because I agree Ime was outcoached a decent amount, and imo Mazzulla is just a better Xs and Os coach than Ime.

I'm fine thinking he'll be at a disadvantage vs. Spo or Nurse, but I'm not particularly scared of Budenholzer or Doc or Bickerstaff.
 

lovegtm

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You can’t really group Jokic and Embiid in with the wings either as they get so many uncontested layups due to their size and footwork in the paint. The last thing I worry about on this team is Tatum. I sometimes wonder how much Celtics fans would complain about Giannis and his face-up/3-pt jumpers, Doncic’s defense, LeBron’s whatever, Jokic/Embiid’s lumbering body language, etc. if they played here. Appreciate greatness…..we are so freakin lucky to have Tatum here.
Right, it's funny to see people worrying about Jaylen at the line late.....how do you think Bucks fans feel about Giannis there? Or Mavs fans, when Luka's 73% FT ass goes to the line?
 

RorschachsMask

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Right, it's funny to see people worrying about Jaylen at the line late.....how do you think Bucks fans feel about Giannis there? Or Mavs fans, when Luka's 73% FT ass goes to the line?
It’s when you know this teams concerns aren’t that…concerning lol. Outside of Rob’s health, which I think almost everyone would agree with being a little scary.
 

lovegtm

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It’s when you know this teams concerns aren’t that…concerning lol. Outside of Rob’s health, which I think almost everyone would agree with being a little scary.
The worry about their ability to consistently run their offense against playoff defenses is real to me. Particularly against Cleveland and Philly, where they'll be up against quality interior defenders constantly.

Milwaukee is very tough for other reasons, but the Celtics have come as close as anyone to "solving" what the Bucks do defensively, so a bit less concerned there.
 

RorschachsMask

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The worry about their ability to consistently run their offense against playoff defenses is real to me. Particularly against Cleveland and Philly, where they'll be up against quality interior defenders constantly.

Milwaukee is very tough for other reasons, but the Celtics have come as close as anyone to "solving" what the Bucks do defensively, so a bit less concerned there.
So I get where you’re coming from. And I’d have that as one of my bigger concerns, but the playoffs are more about hitting tougher shots anyways, and that’s something I trust Tatum and Jaylen to be able to do, Brogdon too, whose been awesome in isolation.

FWIW, they have the second best offense against top 10 defenses, fourth best since January 1st.
 

lars10

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My only concern is health, particularly JT's health. That fall against IND where he landed on his wrist couldn't have been great.

It's funny you started this thread since Adam Kaufman said on CsBeat on Friday that this was the first Cs team in a long time that he didn't have any reservations about. The Cs are deep, talented, versatile, and experienced. The roster is about as good as it gets in today's NBA.

JB lead the team in minutes with just shy of 37. JT had 36:26. The reason the guys you list didn't play is because the Cs are super deep.
I’m not arguing for JT or JB to play less.. and I’m not arguing for the bench to play a ton of minutes.. what I’m saying is that they have a much deeper more talented bench than other teams.. play them. Last night they played 8 players.. so they didn’t really use their depth IMO
 

lovegtm

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FWIW, they have the second best offense against top 10 defenses, fourth best since January 1st.
This is the best reason to be optimistic: the idea that they focus better against good defenses, and really commit to running the offense.

This doesn't assuage all concerns on my end, but I am more optimistic that Mazzulla can keep them in this mode, as opposed to Ime.
 

Mooch

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In losses, Jaylen is shooting 64.7% from the FT line in the 4th quarter

In wins, he is shooting 80.5%.

Same attempts per quarter in both cases
Thanks for that. It certainly tracks from my memory as well.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I’m not arguing for JT or JB to play less.. and I’m not arguing for the bench to play a ton of minutes.. what I’m saying is that they have a much deeper more talented bench than other teams.. play them. Last night they played 8 players.. so they didn’t really use their depth IMO
Here are the minutes from last night (rounded):

JB = 37
JT = 36
Al = 32
TL = 31
Marcus = 26
Derrick = 25
Grant = 29
Brodgon = 20.
Hauser = 2.

In a close game against THE division rival when you have to play Al, TL, and GW extra minutes because of Embiid, seems to me that this is close to optimal in terms of minutes. I mean you don't really want to play any of those players fewer minutes in this game.
 

RorschachsMask

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This is the best reason to be optimistic: the idea that they focus better against good defenses, and really commit to running the offense.

This doesn't assuage all concerns on my end, but I am more optimistic that Mazzulla can keep them in this mode, as opposed to Ime.
I was curious if it was still being propped up by the insane early season start, but seeing it over the last two months made me feeI better about it, as well.

For the season they’ve had a 117 offensive rating against top 10 defenses, but it’s still a damn good 115.9 since January 1st. They definitely have another gear against the top teams, so far.

All the numbers are courtesy of cleaning the glass.
 

lovegtm

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I was curious if it was still being propped up by the insane early season start, but seeing it over the last two months made me feeI better about it, as well.

For the season they’ve had a 117 offensive rating against top 10 defenses, but it’s still a damn good 115.9 since January 1st. They definitely have another gear against the top teams, so far.

All the numbers are courtesy of cleaning the glass.
Side note: not sure why people use sources other than CTG for this, unless they are really big fans of garbage time.
 

chilidawg

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I’m not arguing for JT or JB to play less.. and I’m not arguing for the bench to play a ton of minutes.. what I’m saying is that they have a much deeper more talented bench than other teams.. play them. Last night they played 8 players.. so they didn’t really use their depth IMO
They didn't use their depth, and they shouldn't have. 8 is plenty for games with other contenders. Deeper bench will get minutes against lesser teams, to give guys a night off or for injuries. That's how it ought to work imo.
 

bankshot1

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The Celts when healthy are the best and deepest team in the NBA. The should beat any competitor in a 7-game series, and most should be settled in 4,5 or 6. My concerns are mostly TL's health and whether a rookie CJM can deliver his best games i the post-season against some very good coaches who have been there before.
 

lovegtm

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I’m not arguing for JT or JB to play less.. and I’m not arguing for the bench to play a ton of minutes.. what I’m saying is that they have a much deeper more talented bench than other teams.. play them. Last night they played 8 players.. so they didn’t really use their depth IMO
The point of depth isn't to play 10 guys: it's to be able to weather injuries, which everyone gets in the playoffs. Obviously you can't handle Tatum missing extended postseason time, but the Cs could probably win games against most opponents with any other player missing time, even Jaylen imo (maybe not all playoffs, but for part of a series).

If Milwaukee had had Cs' style depth behind Middleton last year, they probably hoist another banner.

If Brooklyn had that depth behind KD in 2021, they beat the Bucks imo, and then slice through Atlanta like hot butter.
 

pjheff

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I’m not arguing for JT or JB to play less.. and I’m not arguing for the bench to play a ton of minutes.. what I’m saying is that they have a much deeper more talented bench than other teams.. play them. Last night they played 8 players.. so they didn’t really use their depth IMO
The team is at full strength, hadn't played since Thursday, won't play again until tomorrow, and was on the road against a conference contender. The deep depth is here for cases of injury and load management, neither of which was an issue last night.
 

Eddie Jurak

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Here are the minutes from last night (rounded):

JB = 37
JT = 36
Al = 32
TL = 31
Marcus = 26
Derrick = 25
Grant = 29
Brodgon = 20.
Hauser = 2.

In a close game against THE division rival when you have to play Al, TL, and GW extra minutes because of Embiid, seems to me that this is close to optimal in terms of minutes. I mean you don't really want to play any of those players fewer minutes in this game.
To me, it can't be "close to optimal" when the best player on the floor that night gets only 25 minutes and the team struggled mightily whenever he was off the floor.

Also, White came in in the third right when Marcus picked up foul #4. Though we don't know it for sure, that suggests that White might have gotten fewer minutes but for Marcus' foul trouble.
 

lovegtm

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To me, it can't be "close to optimal" when the best player on the floor that night gets only 25 minutes and the team struggled mightily whenever he was off the floor.

Also, White came in in the third right when Marcus picked up foul #4. Though we don't know it for sure, that suggests that White might have gotten fewer minutes but for Marcus' foul trouble.
As I've said elsewhere, while I agree White should play more in general, it's not really fair to Mazzulla to discuss White's minutes without acknowledging that Mazzulla needs to find out whether the 2bigs lineup with Smart is still viable, because it was so good last year and hasn't played together at all this year.

That lineup just doesn't leave tons of minutes for White. He probably should have played down the stretch more over Smart, but that doesn't address the early game minutes distribution.
 
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The rookie coach. It'll be his first playoff run and in-game tactics aren't exactly his strong suit.
Can Al and TL hold up once the games start going every other night.
When they don't hit their 3s, it can get ugly offensively.
This was an informal post / collection of written thoughts (punch in the nose to you there)...

But spot-on (elevation there) in my opinion.

1. JZ does "not" give me a warm and fuzzy feeling. I was so happy to see him call timeout last night and design a play for Tatum's final look. Finally - praise God for that! And I'm totally aligned with those that aren't leaping for joy with his X's and O's. So his first playoff run, and in-game tactics are certainly going to be in the spotlight.

2. I'm less worried about Al's 'ability to go' (once the playoffs come around) because he's playing for one of his final runs and adrenaline and desire will be an intangible for him. He's made his money, would play thru any nagging injury, fatigue etc.

I'm more worried about TL who seems (my perception) brittle and might be willing to hold-back and be 'risk averse' in the pursuit of a championship run - given his young age and ability to accumulate additional wealth. Fair or unfair, I've witnessed 3 different coaches now, during his short tenure in the NBA, attempt to 'load manage' TL --- and those rests have rarely resulted in a style of play (when unleashed) providing 35-40 minutes of relentless disruption to the opposition that we would hope such rest would accomplish. Are there flashes of brilliance? Sure. But TL is a cheat-code when he's at this optimal level. I just don't see enough of this from him, giving the management for his load of work.

3. When they don't hit their 3's --- things are "absolutely" ugly. While he's improved dramatically in recognizing the need to drive to the hole, when struggling behind the arc; Tatum still, too often, keeps attempting threes with a sentiment that's willing to allow the law of averages to take over. This often allows opposing defenses to collapse on Jaylen, hindering "his" ability to get to the hole.

So much of this offense is predicated on success from beyond the arc. Horford, Brogdon, Smart, Hauser, Grant, Pritchard...

But for Jaylen, White and Tatum --- attacking the basket is clearly a secondary strategy in the offensive schematic. And often, it's too late to recover with this approach, after the unsuccessful attempts from 3-point land have caused a 'problem deficit'.
 

lovegtm

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One thing for the 3-point skeptics: the Celtics rarely had problems last postseason with dying by the 3. More often, when they struggled, it was the result of turning the ball over a lot against aggressive defenses in the paint and on the perimeter, and not being able to generate those 3-point looks in the first place.

When they were able to consistently create good looks from behind the arc by collapsing the defense, they dominated.

This doesn't make me Polyanna'd about their postseason prospects: teams have successfully stopped them from generating good looks in the past. I do, however, want to diagnose the challenge accurately, and "living by the 3, dying by the 3" ain't it imo.
 

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My only real concern was that the Cs would struggle in the halfcourt in the playoffs. Those possessions tend to mirror the late game situations where people are calling into question their execution (two points here - what harm has come from their supposed poor late game execution? Also, are people who are concerned about this looking at other teams across the league? What teams execute better than Boston this year?) versus a typical regular season game.

Teams have successfully clamped down on Tatum and Brown for stretches - in the playoffs those open looks for the others aren't likely to be as plentiful - so having a viable third bucket getter seemed kind of critical to me.

Then Derrick White leveled up into 2023 and now I am choosing to buy that he is capable of sustaining something close to 60% in TS for the rest of the season. This version of White is lethal because his D is as effective as ever but its like they upgraded overall because of what he does on offense.

In the end, I apologize because I am no longer really worried. In fact, I will say it - I can't wait until Tax day!
 

Eddie Jurak

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In terms of "hitting their threes" versus not, I would argue that there is a huge difference between possessions where they get the ball into the paint and kicking to open shooters, versus possessions that are, start to finish, someone (usually Tatum or Brown) futzing around on the perimiter for 15 seconds and then jacking up a three.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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To me, it can't be "close to optimal" when the best player on the floor that night gets only 25 minutes and the team struggled mightily whenever he was off the floor.

Also, White came in in the third right when Marcus picked up foul #4. Though we don't know it for sure, that suggests that White might have gotten fewer minutes but for Marcus' foul trouble.
I think that the reality of the situation is that Marcus Smart is going to be on the floor to close out games. For a lot of reasons but IMO he's earned it.

h/t Celtics Beat but BBall Index posted this chart on off-ball guards/wings that facilitate playmaking. Marcus is an outlier in how good he is.

View: https://twitter.com/The_BBall_Index/status/1629889277260894217?cxt=HHwWksDUpbDqw54tAAAA
 

lovegtm

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In terms of "hitting their threes" versus not, I would argue that there is a huge difference between possessions where they get the ball into the paint and kicking to open shooters, versus possessions that are, start to finish, someone (usually Tatum or Brown) futzing around on the perimiter for 15 seconds and then jacking up a three.
Exactly. I worry about them being able to generate those good 3s, not 3s per se.
 

lovegtm

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I'm probably over-posting today, but whatever.

It's interesting to me that NO ONE in this thread has been worried about the Celtics seeding. I thought "I don't care about homecourt advantage or opponent this year" might have been a controversial idea, but seems like there's general agreement that the East this year is all about who a team is, as opposed to whom they're playing or where.
 

mikeot

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It seems that the one point of mutual agreement here is TL's health as a deciding factor.

Re minutes, from last night:

Marcus = 26
Derrick = 25
Grant = 29

I find solace in fluidity here, with Coach Joe dialing up whatever's working with this trio plus Malcom on any given night.
 

Reverend

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Here are the minutes from last night (rounded):

JB = 37
JT = 36
Al = 32
TL = 31
Marcus = 26
Derrick = 25
Grant = 29
Brodgon = 20.
Hauser = 2.

In a close game against THE division rival when you have to play Al, TL, and GW extra minutes because of Embiid, seems to me that this is close to optimal in terms of minutes. I mean you don't really want to play any of those players fewer minutes in this game.
I was thinking of much the same stuff. For those of us on Team GWill, Philly is one of the reasons he has value. It may not be an ability set that is optimal against every opponent and there may be guys better suited to compete against some opponents, but against some teams, he seems to be far less replaceable

They didn't use their depth, and they shouldn't have. 8 is plenty for games with other contenders. Deeper bench will get minutes against lesser teams, to give guys a night off or for injuries. That's how it ought to work imo.
The point of depth isn't to play 10 guys: it's to be able to weather injuries, which everyone gets in the playoffs. Obviously you can't handle Tatum missing extended postseason time, but the Cs could probably win games against most opponents with any other player missing time, even Jaylen imo (maybe not all playoffs, but for part of a series).

If Milwaukee had had Cs' style depth behind Middleton last year, they probably hoist another banner.

If Brooklyn had that depth behind KD in 2021, they beat the Bucks imo, and then slice through Atlanta like hot butter.
I agree with all this, but I’d point to an additional value of the deep bench: This is no ordinary bench. What has blown my mind—and, it would seem impressed others—is how versatile the team is; the bench isn’t just lesser versions of the starters to give them a blow—I mean, they are to some extent, obviously—but offer different skill and ability sets that allows greater versatility adaptable based on opponent when the starters sit.

Well, part of taking advantage of versatility isn’t that you play all the guys every game; you play the guys that make the most sense that game.

The Celtics may have Philly’s number, but maybe that’s because they knkw to play them.
 

Eddie Jurak

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Teams have successfully clamped down on Tatum and Brown for stretches - in the playoffs those open looks for the others aren't likely to be as plentiful - so having a viable third bucket getter seemed kind of critical to me.

Then Derrick White leveled up into 2023 and now I am choosing to buy that he is capable of sustaining something close to 60% in TS for the rest of the season. This version of White is lethal because his D is as effective as ever but its like they upgraded overall because of what he does on offense.

In the end, I apologize because I am no longer really worried. In fact, I will say it - I can't wait until Tax day!
To my eye, White also, among all of our PGs and ballhandlers, is the guy who pushes the pace most, which is one way to get around the halfcourt.

My concern is that the team is just going to go with alternating Tatum and Brown ballhandling down the stretch, same as they did in the finals last year, and the fact that other options are available (Brogdon and the 2023 version of White) doesn't mean the Celtics will try to do anything different from what failed last year. Might work anyway because Tatum and Brown are better this year, but it would be better to use Brogdon as something other than a spot up shooter if that will help the team win.
 

Euclis20

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I'm probably over-posting today, but whatever.

It's interesting to me that NO ONE in this thread has been worried about the Celtics seeding. I thought "I don't care about homecourt advantage or opponent this year" might have been a controversial idea, but seems like there's general agreement that the East this year is all about who a team is, as opposed to whom they're playing or where.
I don't want to face Milwaukee and Philly in consecutive series, so if you told me right now that the Celtics/Bucks/Sixers were going to all finish top 3, I'd say that getting the 1 seed is pretty important. With Giannis' injury and Philly's closing schedule (and Cleveland's, they have one of the easiest), it's very possible that one of those teams might drop to 4th, and the Celtics have to face both even if they get the 1 seed. It's not worth stressing over things you can't control.
 

Reverend

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I'm probably over-posting today, but whatever.

It's interesting to me that NO ONE in this thread has been worried about the Celtics seeding. I thought "I don't care about homecourt advantage or opponent this year" might have been a controversial idea, but seems like there's general agreement that the East this year is all about who a team is, as opposed to whom they're playing or where.
I think a lot of people here would rather see them play in Alpha Centauri if it meant not having to see the fucking Heat again.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Consistent with several of you, I've been arguing since last year's playoffs that the key to this team's offense is how successfully they are able to play "inside-out" consistently, e.g. get into the paint and then move ball back and around, vs just rotating it around the perimeter. To oversimplify things, when they are able to get that penetration---which is itself a combination of commitment to it, defense scheme, and matchups---they are the best team in basketball and likely by a fair amount. When they don't, they are subject to the variation of 3 pt percentage and other factors (turnovers, opp 3 pt, opp fast break points, opp offensive rebounding). So that remains my number one concern.

I also have a lower level of concern about defensive consistency and intensity, which isn't what it was last year. I know it's trended better and there's a health aspect here (particularly TL's health) but I don't see this year a defense that can regularly make up for bad offense---which we saw last year.

Beyond those it is the stuff every team has---key injuries, etc.
 

lovegtm

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To my eye, White also, among all of our PGs and ballhandlers, is the guy who pushes the pace most, which is one way to get around the halfcourt.

My concern is that the team is just going to go with alternating Tatum and Brown ballhandling down the stretch, same as they did in the finals last year, and the fact that other options are available (Brogdon and the 2023 version of White) doesn't mean the Celtics will try to do anything different from what failed last year. Might work anyway because Tatum and Brown are better this year, but it would be better to use Brogdon as something other than a spot up shooter if that will help the team win.
One note here: in the possession you (correctly) hated most last night, the 46-seconds-left one, Marcus initiated the offense, and did so pretty early (15 seconds or so). He didn't create an advantage, got himself into trouble, and threw Tatum a grenade on the perimeter.

Is that an argument for Tatum and Brown initiating late all the time? NO! If anything, I'd prefer to see White in that spot more over Smart, or at least have Smart run one of those nice actions with Tatum as the screener.

I do think, however, that they've done a good job this year not just going to Tatum/Brown isos late, and their crunchtime numbers reflect that (the team has been very good down the stretch over the whole season).
 

lovegtm

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I don't want to face Milwaukee and Philly in consecutive series, so if you told me right now that the Celtics/Bucks/Sixers were going to all finish top 3, I'd say that getting the 1 seed is pretty important. With Giannis' injury and Philly's closing schedule (and Cleveland's, they have one of the easiest), it's very possible that one of those teams might drop to 4th, and the Celtics have to face both even if they get the 1 seed. It's not worth stressing over things you can't control.
Interesting. I guess I just have a higher opinion of Cleveland than most, particularly as being a sneaky-bad matchup for the Cs.
 

RorschachsMask

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Interesting. I guess I just have a higher opinion of Cleveland than most, particularly as being a sneaky-bad matchup for the Cs.
Cavs have been the best team in the league against other top 10 teams since January 1st, I’m with you. Not just their interior defense, but Mobley is starting to break out offensively, and Mitchell/Garland both hit tough shots, which is huge in the slog of the postseason.