A Time to Worry: Celtics Postseason Concerns

bankshot1

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Are they underperformsing without TL or were they overperforming earlier in the season when they were on a 62-win pace? Wouldn’t you expect some regression espeically once TL is not at full speed? I mean if you thought this team would simply coast to 60+ wins then I can understand why you’d feel this way. This was never a 60+ win team, had some injuries, and normal regression. We are now one game from completing a real successful road trip and the worlds still ending?
I think we can agree that we are both rooting for them to win tonight. However I would put more stock in their recent 40 game sample since December (some with and some without TL) than I would in a 1 game universe (tonight). Going into this season I thought them a strong favorite to win a championship, whether they did it off a 53, 55 or 60 win season, didn't make a lot of difference to me. I thought the only things they were missing was maturity and the toughness to overcome those times. It thought it was how they played rather than a L or W. If they play to their ability they should beat any one in a 7-gamer. My concern, posted on more than one occassion, and generally mocked, was a rookie coach may become an issue. Some people also adopted this point.

In either case, win or lose tonight, there is time for the good ship Celtic to be righted and hopefully get healthy and get ready for a long post-season run..

And there's even time for you to stop the false narratives. No one said the world is ending except for you.
 

the moops

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Wow. I was referring to Utah’s two big guards both of whom dwarf White when we have a better matchup available in Brogdon. And yes, the size of the Jazz frontline has been giving better teams fits all season by creating matchup problems.
Horton Tucker played 5 minutes in the 4th. Agbaji played 8. And neither are nowhere near good enough players to force Mazulla's hand. That's a bad coaching decision. It's OK to admit that
 

HomeRunBaker

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Horton Tucker played 5 minutes in the 4th. Agbaji played 8. And neither are nowhere near good enough players to force Mazulla's hand. That's a bad coaching decision. It's OK to admit that
C’mon man. White had just played the entire 3Q. He wasn’t playing the first 5-6 minutes of the 4Q no matter what so the “didn’t play him at all in the 4Q”, while accurate, is misleading. In those final minutes the Jazz played both big physical guards along with three 7-footers. I don’t know why people can’t recognize that Brogdon is the better matchup here but whatever. Part of the reasons role players perform so well is that they are put in the best position to succeed……not im matchup disadvantages.
 

Jimbodandy

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C’mon man. White had just played the entire 3Q. He wasn’t playing the first 5-6 minutes of the 4Q no matter what so the “didn’t play him at all in the 4Q”, while accurate, is misleading. In those final minutes the Jazz played both big physical guards along with three 7-footers. I don’t know why people can’t recognize that Brogdon is the better matchup here but whatever. Part of the reasons role players perform so well is that they are put in the best position to succeed……not im matchup disadvantages.
I think that you're underselling White here. Calling him a role player is an odd take. Per DARKO, he's the fourth most impactful guy on the team now after JT, JB, and TL. I too am sick of the litigation on that one game and think that folks are reading too much into it, but it's a miss on Joe's part for White not to be out there at all in the fourth. I mean, they had Hauser on the court and he wasn't even part of the play. Grant is 7th best shot creator on the team, it was an offense only possession, there's plenty of good 3 point shooters out there already. It's a small fuckup, but a fuckup it is.
 

Cellar-Door

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White should have played in the 4th against Utah regardless of whether Brogdon played, because he's one of our best players. Joe's mistake is he saw Utah was big and said "I should match", which is dumb because Luke Kornet isn't good. So you had him standing there like 7 ft of wet toilet paper, allowing the defense to relax because he was no threat, while simulatneously getting 1 rebound in the whole quarter. Joe has to recognize his bigs aren't as good as his smalls and try to run Utah's bigs off the court. Instead he gave 4th quarter minutes to the 9th-11th best players on the roster over the better players, trying to play matchup with a less talented team.
 

HomeRunBaker

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White should have played in the 4th against Utah regardless of whether Brogdon played, because he's one of our best players. Joe's mistake is he saw Utah was big and said "I should match", which is dumb because Luke Kornet isn't good. So you had him standing there like 7 ft of wet toilet paper, allowing the defense to relax because he was no threat, while simulatneously getting 1 rebound in the whole quarter. Joe has to recognize his bigs aren't as good as his smalls and try to run Utah's bigs off the court. Instead he gave 4th quarter minutes to the 9th-11th best players on the roster over the better players, trying to play matchup with a less talented team.
Nobody is running anyone off the court late in the 4Q of a tight game you know this.
 

lovegtm

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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.
Re-visiting this now, pre-playoffs, I am feeling good about concern status. TL is back and looks like himself, the offense has played focused when everyone is healthy, and Tatum got things together after the post-ASB rough stretch, with about 10 days to get fully healthy now.

Mazzulla did an underappreciated job leaning into 1 center lineups, which seems to have provided a lot of stylistic clarity as well as keeping Al+Rob fresher.

Brogdon and White have been really finding their aggression lately, which will help a lot if Tatum has off nights.

As HRB says, they're still only about a 4-1 shot to win the title, due to the bunched up league, but they're in way better position than they were going into last year, when they had to reinvent themselves on the fly with TL out.
 

Eddie Jurak

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My main concerns:
  • TL's health. He looks good to go, but whether he plays in this league for just one mroe year or 10 more, I'll always be worried about his health. Things look good right now in the sense that he is playing, moving well, and the Celtics seem to be managing his workload. But the worry will always be there.
  • Smart's health. He just hasn't looked right all year. He's not been the DPOY guy from last year.
Lesser concern:
  • I still worry that in crunch time, none of Mazzulla, Brown, and Tatum will do what needs to be done to win: have the right people on the floor (Mazzulla) and letting the PGs initiate the offense more. My nightmare is going to be crunchtime offensive sets where Brown and Tatum initiate every possession, Smart is barely touching the ball and always chucking up an ill advised three when he does, and whichever of White and Brogdon is playing is just hanging out in the corner watching Tatum and Brown alternate turnovers.
 

Imbricus

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My nightmare is going to be crunchtime offensive sets where Brown and Tatum initiate every possession, Smart is barely touching the ball and always chucking up an ill advised three when he does, and whichever of White and Brogdon is playing is just hanging out in the corner watching Tatum and Brown alternate turnovers.
This is good. Someone should get that ChatGPT-type model that's now doing videos to mash together a virtual-reality video of this, then we can all scream in unison.
 

lexrageorge

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Or just hire a coach who is clearly learning the job as he goes.
Of course, the team did not have any better options available . Still, the players need to execute and they failed to do so; blaming the rookie coach only goes so far.
 

BigSoxFan

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Or have a laceration on the shooting hand.
The issues predated that cut. And he shot fine during the game. He just isn’t comfortable at the line, for whatever reason. But Tatum was the issue last night. None of this matters if Tatum actually decides to not puke all over himself all game.
 

Jimbodandy

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The issues predated that cut. And he shot fine during the game. He just isn’t comfortable at the line, for whatever reason. But Tatum was the issue last night. None of this matters if Tatum actually decides to not puke all over himself all game.
The 1-5 isn't great, but the 15-23/4-7 is. I think that we have bigger problems in last night's game.
 

ehaz

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You have two excellent point guards who never turn the ball over in White and Brogdon, but for some reason the team won't let them be the primary ball handlers when protecting a 10 point lead at home in the 4th quarter of a playoff game.
 

BigSoxFan

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The 1-5 isn't great, but the 15-23/4-7 is. I think that we have bigger problems in last night's game.
We do. Which is why I said “Tatum was the issue”. I’m not concerned about Jaylen at all outside of his injury. He was carrying this team last night. This team can’t win it all with Tatum playing like he did last night. That’s the bottom line for me. I hope he gets some redemption tomorrow.
 

Cellar-Door

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You have two excellent point guards who never turn the ball over in White and Brogdon, but for some reason the team won't let them be the primary ball handlers when protecting a 10 point lead at home in the 4th quarter of a playoff game.
Tatum also never turns it over relatively speaking... just more than White, just less than Brogdon for the season.

The problem is less who has the ball, than how they approach running offense.
 

Auger34

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Tatum also never turns it over relatively speaking... just more than White, just less than Brogdon for the season.

The problem is less who has the ball, than how they approach running offense.
Isn’t this a chicken or the egg scenario? When Tatum brings the ball up, their approach running the offense is shitty. When the point guards bring it up, particularly White, it’s better
 

Deathofthebambino

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I've said it before, if the C's shoot well, they are almost unbeatable. It really almost solely comes down to that. I would certainly love to see more White/Brogdon in crunch time over Smart the way he's playing, and like I said last night in the game thread, if Joe isn't willing to make that move and it ultimately costs us come playoff time, I'll lose my shit, but I just can't freak out about this team yet.
Still not freaking out yet, but I fucking hate being right about this. If they get passed Atlanta, and this shit keeps happening late in games, while White or Brogdon are on the sidelines, I will officially go mental.
 

NomarsFool

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I know CBS wouldn’t want to meddle, but at a certain point it would be professional misconduct for him to NOT have a conversation with CJM along the lines of “Are you happy with how the substitutions went in the 4th quarter or is there anything you would do differently?”
 

bosockboy

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I know CBS wouldn’t want to meddle, but at a certain point it would be professional misconduct for him to NOT have a conversation with CJM along the lines of “Are you happy with how the substitutions went in the 4th quarter or is there anything you would do differently?”
Maybe that’s why Silas showed up today.
 

lexrageorge

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I know CBS wouldn’t want to meddle, but at a certain point it would be professional misconduct for him to NOT have a conversation with CJM along the lines of “Are you happy with how the substitutions went in the 4th quarter or is there anything you would do differently?”
He is POBOBS, not CBS. It's up to CJM to open the dialog.
 

Auger34

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Still not freaking out yet, but I fucking hate being right about this. If they get passed Atlanta, and this shit keeps happening late in games, while White or Brogdon are on the sidelines, I will officially go mental.
This may be the first time I’ve ever disagreed with you when it comes to basketball, so I want to make sure I understand before I officially disagree with you.
Is this a response to last night, or is this a sinking feeling that it will cause damage in the future? Because if it’s the former, I heartily disagree..if it’s the latter, I understand and think it may be a growing concern
 

4 6 3 DP

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If Stevens is mazzulas boss and in charge of basketball ops it most certainly is Stevens' conversation to start.

But I don't think you can get in a rookie coaches head at this point- bed was made when he was given the extension prematurely.
 

NomarsFool

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Everyone reports to someone, and I think BS likely does talk to JM about coaching, at the very least as a sounding board. Frankly, if CJM wasn’t seeking out those conversations, he would be an idiot. BS is a very accomplished coach and I’m sure JM values his thoughts.
 

Cellar-Door

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The President can't be second guessing the coach after every game. You need to evaluate that stuff long term, end of season, when the guy is on the hot seat maybe.

I also think reading anything at all about what Mazulla will do from his press conference is dumb talk radio stuff. Coaches generally don't give you anything. Stevens never did (he always claimed the blame), Udoka didn't (he always said guys need to play better and did some contentless posturing), and Mazzula won't (he'll give you platitudes about process and learning from mistakes). That's how coaches interact with press, what they say and do in film session, practice or the next game is what matters, and only the 3rd of those do we ever see.
 

Reverend

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The President can't be second guessing the coach after every game. You need to evaluate that stuff long term, end of season, when the guy is on the hot seat maybe.

I also think reading anything at all about what Mazulla will do from his press conference is dumb talk radio stuff. Coaches generally don't give you anything. Stevens never did (he always claimed the blame), Udoka didn't (he always said guys need to play better and did some contentless posturing), and Mazzula won't (he'll give you platitudes about process and learning from mistakes). That's how coaches interact with press, what they say and do in film session, practice or the next game is what matters, and only the 3rd of those do we ever see.
Can you imagine how hars it would be to hire a quality new head coach if it were known that POBO interfered with game to game decision making?
 

Deathofthebambino

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This may be the first time I’ve ever disagreed with you when it comes to basketball, so I want to make sure I understand before I officially disagree with you.
Is this a response to last night, or is this a sinking feeling that it will cause damage in the future? Because if it’s the former, I heartily disagree..if it’s the latter, I understand and think it may be a growing concern
That post I quoted was from over a month ago that I wrote. I've been worried about Joe not recognizing that White and Brogdon are superior players to Smart right now and he's going to play Smart in crunch time over them. It came to fruition last night and IMO, was a huge reason they lost. I'm not freaking out about the team yet, but I am worried about that particular situation in close games going forward.
 

HomeRunBaker

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If Stevens is mazzulas boss and in charge of basketball ops it most certainly is Stevens' conversation to start.

But I don't think you can get in a rookie coaches head at this point- bed was made when he was given the extension prematurely.
This isn’t 1985 when the GM hires the coach and then sits back to see how he does. GM’s today are involved in the day to day operations of the team including game planning. I love the bambino but I’ve said all year that if it’s going to bother you that Smart is going to finish games with either White or Brogdon…..it is going to be a long playoff season for you. Neither Brad nor CJM is going to bench Smart at the end of games it’s just not going to happen.
 

benhogan

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This isn’t 1985 when the GM hires the coach and then sits back to see how he does. GM’s today are involved in the day to day operations of the team including game planning. I love the bambino but I’ve said all year that if it’s going to bother you that Smart is going to finish games with either White or Brogdon…..it is going to be a long playoff season for you. Neither Brad nor CJM is going to bench Smart at the end of games it’s just not going to happen.
Smart will never be "benched", he's a TOP7 rotational player. BUT CJM will eventually go situational.

The entire reason Brad traded for Brogdon, was to put Boston over the top when their offense goes stagnant.

If CJM lets Malcolm rot away on the bench at the end of games then they'll have an early playoff exit.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Smart will never be "benched", he's a TOP7 rotational player. BUT CJM will eventually go situational.

The entire reason Brad traded for Brogdon, was to put Boston over the top when their offense goes stagnant.

If CJM lets Malcolm rot away on the bench at the end of games then they'll have an early playoff exit.
CJM has gone situational all season as he should. The situational in the backcourt is going to always be who matches up best with the opponents other guard and that player will be on the floor at the end of games with Smart unless the latter is injured or has complete meltdown after meltdown.

The last time I was in a game thread a month ago it was this same conversation…..then Smart made 3 huge heads up plays in the final minute as we almost came back from down 10 in the final minute. When did he become so unappreciated around here?
 

benhogan

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CJM has gone situational all season as he should. The situational in the backcourt is going to always be who matches up best with the opponents other guard and that player will be on the floor at the end of games with Smart unless the latter is injured or has complete meltdown after meltdown.

The last time I was in a game thread a month ago it was this same conversation…..then Smart made 3 huge heads up plays in the final minute as we almost came back from down 10 in the final minute. When did he become so unappreciated around here?
Everyone loves Marcus. He's the defacto Captain.
He's a much better defender than Brogdon. He's also a worse offensive player which gets much more exposed in the playoffs when teams dig in.

Going offense/defense isn't splitting atoms. I expect CJM will start using MB more at the end of games now that these games matter.

I'm pretty sure you aren't pushing back on using MB on offense instead of Smart in late/tight situations?
 

bigq

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CJM has gone situational all season as he should. The situational in the backcourt is going to always be who matches up best with the opponents other guard and that player will be on the floor at the end of games with Smart unless the latter is injured or has complete meltdown after meltdown.

The last time I was in a game thread a month ago it was this same conversation…..then Smart made 3 huge heads up plays in the final minute as we almost came back from down 10 in the final minute. When did he become so unappreciated around here?
Good one. You had multiple posts in the Game 3 game thread just last week. Smart and Jaylen Brown are the targets of the vast majority of game thread ire. Reading those threads one might conclude they are two of the worst players in the league. ;)
 

benhogan

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Good one. You had multiple posts in the Game 3 game thread just last week. Smart and Jaylen Brown are the targets of the vast majority of game thread ire. Reading those threads one might conclude they are two of the worst players in the league. ;)
Tatum got plenty of ire yesterday and it was deserved.
 

SteveF

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Over the last two regular seasons (combined), pbpstats has the Celtics offense as the 28th best in the league in high/very high leverage situations (537 possessions) with an offensive rating of 103.9, 9.3 points worse than the median. The only teams that have been worse are Detroit and San Antonio.
 

128

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Over the last two regular seasons (combined), pbpstats has the Celtics offense as the 28th best in the league in high/very high leverage situations (537 possessions) with an offensive rating of 103.9, 9.3 points worse than the median. The only teams that have been worse are Detroit and San Antonio.
What are "high/very high leverage situations"? Are those late-game possessions when the score is tight?
 

Auger34

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Over the last two regular seasons (combined), pbpstats has the Celtics offense as the 28th best in the league in high/very high leverage situations (537 possessions) with an offensive rating of 103.9, 9.3 points worse than the median. The only teams that have been worse are Detroit and San Antonio.
I can’t find offensive rating stats on that site?
 

SteveF

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I can’t find offensive rating stats on that site?
It's in a drop down menu. To verify what I've posted, go here and click under 'stat type' on the drop down arrow to the right of where it says 'totals' and switch to 'per 100 possessions' and then sort by the appropriate column.
 

Deathofthebambino

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This isn’t 1985 when the GM hires the coach and then sits back to see how he does. GM’s today are involved in the day to day operations of the team including game planning. I love the bambino but I’ve said all year that if it’s going to bother you that Smart is going to finish games with either White or Brogdon…..it is going to be a long playoff season for you. Neither Brad nor CJM is going to bench Smart at the end of games it’s just not going to happen.
Oh, it's going to bother me if it continues to cost the team games down the stretch.

He kind of went situational for a little over a minute when he benched Smart and put White back in. The C's gave up no points on multiple possessions, he then went back to Marcus, with a 1 point lead, with 30 seconds left, and Marcus proceeded to foul Trae at half court, giving up the lead, then he had Marcus out there and didn't use him to defend Trae on the last play (although, IMO, the defense wasn't the issue on that play, Jaylen got a hand in the guy's face 30+ feet from the basket, without fouling, while also having to cover up a drive/floater with only a 1 point lead, tip your cap, Trae made a shot he probably makes 20% of the time). If he's not going to be defending Trae, because he can't control himself from fouling, and he's on the other end committing illegal screens and turning the ball over in crunch time, well...yeah, it's going to bother me, and I'm going to blame it on the coach.

And frankly, if it really costs them in the end of all of this, IMO, Brad needs to look into moving Smart if he doesn't think Coach Joe has the balls to put him on the sidelines. Let's say we have a matchup in a close game that lends itself to having TL and AL in there with the Jays. There is no time, IMO, where the 5th guy in that group should be Marcus over both White and Brogdon, especially if it's situational. Not on offense and not on defense.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Marcus hs always struggled against very quick guards as his strength defensively is his ability to be switchable on big wings which eliminates opponents offensive hunting options. I would like to see White matched up w Trae as much as possible but these are rare occurances when Smart is in such a poor matchup as he’s improved so much since earlier in his career playing the position on both ends. I don’t disagree that Atlanta is one team where he can be exposed (similar to Grant)…..but I think Brad and CJM are in agreement that they prefer what Marcus brings at the end of games despite the tough matchup for him.
 

TripleOT

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If Boston needs both AL and TL in crunch time, two of Smart, White and Brogdon will be on the bench. With one big, one will sit. To close out Atlanta, Smart was used as the foul line facilitator after the Hawks decided to double JT out high, and he made a bunch of correct plays. Any one of those three can play that role, but if Smart is going to be the one to set the pick to draw the double team, it should be in the middle of the floor. On a side, the opening will be for a wing jumper, and not a foul line catch-and-play-4-on-3.