Analysis of Celtics Games (2020-2021)

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Yeah I get the theoretical appeal of Theis at the 4, but as we’ve seen, he’s just not fast enough and everything feels clunky.
Yeah, The Is a funny player. Has some real strengths - ability to shoot for a big, shot-blocking, and in small spaces he has either a burst or anticipation that allows him to catch up and credibly defend smaller guys off the PnR. OTOH, he can get overpowered by bigger centers and appears not really to be able to play consistently out on the perimeter.
 

lovegtm

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Yeah, The Is a funny player. Has some real strengths - ability to shoot for a big, shot-blocking, and in small spaces he has either a burst or anticipation that allows him to catch up and credibly defend smaller guys off the PnR. OTOH, he can get overpowered by bigger centers and appears not really to be able to play consistently out on the perimeter.
I suppose this is a way of saying he’s a true 5 who’s a bit too small to defend the ~3 elite post centers left in the league, hence the TT signing.
 

benhogan

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Defensively: Theis is good covering 1-4 on the perimeter for short bursts (10-15 seconds). The problem is expecting him and/or TT to be out on the perimeter for entire, multiple defensive possessions. It got relentlessly exposed, rotations were slow, and made everyone on the defensive end look awful.

Offensively: Having DT drag a 5 to the perimeter (along with 2 other 3pt shooters) opens up the lane for JayCrew to score at the rim or draw/dish (ie last night)
 

NomarsFool

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I suppose this is a way of saying he’s a true 5 who’s a bit too small to defend the ~3 elite post centers left in the league, hence the TT signing.
The 3 elite post defenders, I don't think TT is defending, either. Basically, Embiid is still unstoppable for us - but he's not going to score 120 points a night. We live with whatever Embiid gets, and we make sure that everyone else doesn't beat us, and we try and tire him out so that he's not on the floor as much.
 

NomarsFool

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I’m starting to have some doubts about what this team really is. Even on a day when Walker looks like Walker, they struggle against one of the garbage teams in the NBA.

is this a rebuild year? They don’t currently look like a team that is a piece or two from title contention. They look like a pretty mediocre team with two good stars and a bunch of also rans. Not that they have much to sell if they were sellers - just Theis and TT.
 

Cesar Crespo

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I think what the team is is pretty obvious. Without Marcus Smart, they are 2 25-30 minute rotation players short from competing. Adding Smart back and someone like Ball or Barnes would have a huge cascading effect on the rest of the supporting cast.
 

lexrageorge

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I’m starting to have some doubts about what this team really is. Even on a day when Walker looks like Walker, they struggle against one of the garbage teams in the NBA.

is this a rebuild year? They don’t currently look like a team that is a piece or two from title contention. They look like a pretty mediocre team with two good stars and a bunch of also rans. Not that they have much to sell if they were sellers - just Theis and TT.
Hayward's late departure in the free agency cycle, combined with Kemba's knee, forced them into a bridge year scenario. They need the right pieces around Tatum/Brown, which they clearly don't have. And the younger players will need time. Pritchard has been a find, but even he is going to make rookie mistakes. Grant's game probably has room to grow, but not sure if R Williams is ever going to be the right fit for this team. Langford's injuries have set him back too far for him to be much use during his rookie contract. The problem is that this is not a development roster either.
 

Euclis20

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They haven't been healthy yet, they've played 6 more road games (the biggest disparity in the league) and they're far from the only team to be underachieving, but this really feels like a low point. It's easy to write off playoff seeding and just hope they get it right for the spring, but as bad as they've been lately the playoffs aren't a guarantee, and it's starting to look like we may actually get fans in the stands in the postseason (meaning positioning does count for something). I'm normally pretty optimistic, but it's hard to see this team making any noise when the games really count. It really does feel like the early 2000s Celtics with Pierce/Walker and a bunch of replacement level guys. With good defense and two 25+ ppg stars that team will have a puncher's chance against anyone, but at their best is a solid level below title contention. Far from their best right now.
 

BigSoxFan

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They haven't been healthy yet, they've played 6 more road games (the biggest disparity in the league) and they're far from the only team to be underachieving, but this really feels like a low point. It's easy to write off playoff seeding and just hope they get it right for the spring, but as bad as they've been lately the playoffs aren't a guarantee, and it's starting to look like we may actually get fans in the stands in the postseason (meaning positioning does count for something). I'm normally pretty optimistic, but it's hard to see this team making any noise when the games really count. It really does feel like the early 2000s Celtics with Pierce/Walker and a bunch of replacement level guys. With good defense and two 25+ ppg stars that team will have a puncher's chance against anyone, but at their best is a solid level below title contention. Far from their best right now.
Danny needs to make a move. They’ll get better, of course, but this team needs another body. A Lonzo or Barnes won’t turn this into a contender but they’d help to get that 8-9 man rotation set. Right now, Brad continues to tinker because he has no reason not to. Semi isn’t the answer. Nesmith probably isn’t either but Brad needs to see what he has when the opportunity cost is playing Semi, Carsen, Green, etc.
 

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Fwiw, I thought that Nesmith looked fantastic on defense. Ball's still not dropping. But he looked more than playable against pro guards. Only high point of the game really. Hope that it turns into more reps.
 

128

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They haven't been healthy yet, they've played 6 more road games (the biggest disparity in the league) and they're far from the only team to be underachieving, but this really feels like a low point. It's easy to write off playoff seeding and just hope they get it right for the spring, but as bad as they've been lately the playoffs aren't a guarantee, and it's starting to look like we may actually get fans in the stands in the postseason (meaning positioning does count for something). I'm normally pretty optimistic, but it's hard to see this team making any noise when the games really count. It really does feel like the early 2000s Celtics with Pierce/Walker and a bunch of replacement level guys. With good defense and two 25+ ppg stars that team will have a puncher's chance against anyone, but at their best is a solid level below title contention. Far from their best right now.
Celtics drop to No. 5 in the East, two games ahead of Miami and ATL, which are tied for ninth.
 
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jimv

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This really feels like a low point
Can't go much lower than a loss to the 7-19 Pistons followed by a blowout loss to the 7-17 Wizards, the two worst teams in the conference.

Obviously they miss Smart on the floor, I wonder if they miss him in other ways as well. Most of the team doesn't display much outward emotion, especially the supposed leaders Tatum and Brown. Do they need someone else who is willing to yell and scream at times
 

bigq

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They are in a funk. I hope they have bottomed out but I’m not sure whether that is the case. The Celtics only hit 35.6% of their shots today including 25.7% from three. Tough to win when you can’t hit the broad side of a barn. I don’t pin all of their woes on Smart being out but I do look forward to him coming back.
 

chilidawg

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Can't go much lower than a loss to the 7-19 Pistons followed by a blowout loss to the 7-17 Wizards, the two worst teams in the conference.

Obviously they miss Smart on the floor, I wonder if they miss him in other ways as well. Most of the team doesn't display much outward emotion, especially the supposed leaders Tatum and Brown. Do they need someone else who is willing to yell and scream at times
To me Smart is undeniably the leader on this team. He gets overrated for his defense, but his leadership and toughness impact on the team is underrated. I'd hoped TT would bring some of that, but haven't noted it yet.
 

128

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They are in a funk. I hope they have bottomed out but I’m not sure whether that is the case. The Celtics only hit 35.6% of their shots today including 25.7% from three. Tough to win when you can’t hit the broad side of a barn. I don’t pin all of their woes on Smart being out but I do look forward to him coming back.
Poor shooting is a big part of the problem, but they came out with a noticeable lack of energy today and were playing from behind almost immediately. Blame it on the early start, but both teams have to deal with that, and the Wizards, who have been horrible this season, came out with fire.

How much of that is on Stevens, it's hard to say, but he has to shoulder some of the responsibility for this state of affairs.
 

bigq

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Poor shooting is a big part of the problem, but they came out with a noticeable lack of energy today and were playing from behind almost immediately. Blame it on the early start, but both teams have to deal with that, and the Wizards, who have been horrible this season, came out with fire.

How much of that is on Stevens, it's hard to say, but he has to shoulder some of the responsibility for this state of affairs.
It’s frustrating because the team hasn’t found it’s defensive identity yet either. They seemed to be okay on the defensive side today but their offense was atrocious outside of Jaylen and Kemba. And I agree with your comments regarding the lack of energy which was on both sides of the ball. I think what it comes down to is Tatum was not good today and this team can’t get past even the likes of the Wizards if Tatum doesn’t show up.
 

Euclis20

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They aren't BAD at it, but this is the Celtics' worst year under Stevens in opponent 3P FG% defense. They've been universally excellent at this, even his first two years when they won just 25 and 40 games:

2014: 5th
2015: 4th
2016: 4th
2017: 2nd
2018: 1st
2019: 7th
2020: 3rd
2021: 9th

9th is far from poor, but I don't know if it's a coincidence that the two most disappointing years of Stevens' tenure (unless things turn around) have occurred when the Celtics were worse than usual at defending the 3.
 

Jimbodandy

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It’s frustrating because the team hasn’t found it’s defensive identity yet either. They seemed to be okay on the defensive side today but their offense was atrocious outside of Jaylen and Kemba. And I agree with your comments regarding the lack of energy which was on both sides of the ball. I think what it comes down to is Tatum was not good today and this team can’t get past even the likes of the Wizards if Tatum doesn’t show up.
I thought that those two were great but also Nesmith held his own.

The team defense just falls apart too easily. It started when they brought Rob in, and they steamrolled from there. I think that the lack of practice time is showing. Brad is going to have to figure something out, because they just can't get stops outside of some great individual plays here and there.

On offense, they're no better. We seem to have down the P&R and dribble handoff stuff for the Jays, but nobody is cutting. Everyone is trying to score off the dribble. No diversity to the offense.
 

HomeRunBaker

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I thought that those two were great but also Nesmith held his own.

The team defense just falls apart too easily. It started when they brought Rob in, and they steamrolled from there. I think that the lack of practice time is showing. Brad is going to have to figure something out, because they just can't get stops outside of some great individual plays here and there.

On offense, they're no better. We seem to have down the P&R and dribble handoff stuff for the Jays, but nobody is cutting. Everyone is trying to score off the dribble. No diversity to the offense.
Many of our problems are solved once Smart returns to the lineup. In addition to this, Ainge will presumably be upgrading our second unit with quality reliable veterans which should improve our execution on both ends of the floor.
 

JCizzle

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Many of our problems are solved once Smart returns to the lineup. In addition to this, Ainge will presumably be upgrading our second unit with quality reliable veterans which should improve our execution on both ends of the floor.
Why do you assume Ainge will do this? It doesn’t seem to be his MO over the past few years.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Why do you assume Ainge will do this? It doesn’t seem to be his MO over the past few years.
We haven’t needed it over the past few years nor had the space for any additions last year notwithstanding. This year I’m assuming he recognizes how badly we need to upgrade if we want to contend to win the EC. Guys like Ojeleye, GWilliams, and J.Green are guys getting way too many minutes than they should for a team looking to contend. These should be 10th-11th men to fill in scrap minutes when the team is banged up.....not guys being relied upon for production.
 

CoffeeNerdness

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Fwiw, I thought that Nesmith looked fantastic on defense. Ball's still not dropping. But he looked more than playable against pro guards. Only high point of the game really. Hope that it turns into more reps.
The mystery of Brad Stevens' usage patterns. Before Saturday Nesmith had played 2 minutes in all of February, they don't practice at all so there's little to evaluate in the day-to-day as far as improvements, and here we are today and Nesmith gets a nice chunk of minutes and looks solid. So wtf is going on with benching the kid for so many games and what did he do to earn the minutes today? I'm sure there's solid reasoning there but to an average fan like me, I find his usage patterns bizarre. If he went back to being stapled to the bench for the next two weeks that wouldn't surprise me in the least.
 

Swedgin

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They aren't BAD at it, but this is the Celtics' worst year under Stevens in opponent 3P FG% defense. They've been universally excellent at this, even his first two years when they won just 25 and 40 games:

2014: 5th
2015: 4th
2016: 4th
2017: 2nd
2018: 1st
2019: 7th
2020: 3rd
2021: 9th

9th is far from poor, but I don't know if it's a coincidence that the two most disappointing years of Stevens' tenure (unless things turn around) have occurred when the Celtics were worse than usual at defending the 3.
I do not know that here is much to be drawn from this. The consensus among analytics folks is that with a few exceptions (one being the Celtics under CBS) 3P FG% defense seems to be random noise/variance rather than something actually attributable to the defending team. This is in contrast to the percentage of 3P FGs an opponent takes.

So the Celtics sliding from from 3 to 9, this early in the season probably does not mean much.

That is not to say that opponents hitting a higher percentage of 3P FGs does not negatively impact wins. Obviously it does. The question is whether a team's defense actually has anything to do with its opponent's percentage over the course of a season.
 

HomeRunBaker

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The mystery of Brad Stevens' usage patterns. Before Saturday Nesmith had played 2 minutes in all of February, they don't practice at all so there's little to evaluate in the day-to-day as far as improvements, and here we are today and Nesmith gets a nice chunk of minutes and looks solid. So wtf is going on with benching the kid for so many games and what did he do to earn the minutes today? I'm sure there's solid reasoning there but to an average fan like me, I find his usage patterns bizarre. If he went back to being stapled to the bench for the next two weeks that wouldn't surprise me in the least.
From my seat, Brad replaced Javonte Greens 1Q rotation minutes with Nesmith bc well, he’s Javonte Green and Nesmith has reportedly been putting in the effort outside of the games so Brad gave him another 1Q opportunity against a team he’s have a better chance of success against than those we had been playing. As much as he resembled Lu Dort offensively the kid was working really hard on defense today and in a 20-pt game Brad rewarded the effort with as many minutes as he could handle as he was one of the few laying it all out there. That’s my read on the minutes anyway.
 

Jimbodandy

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From my seat, Brad replaced Javonte Greens 1Q rotation minutes with Nesmith bc well, he’s Javonte Green and Nesmith has reportedly been putting in the effort outside of the games so Brad gave him another 1Q opportunity against a team he’s have a better chance of success against than those we had been playing. As much as he resembled Lu Dort offensively the kid was working really hard on defense today and in a 20-pt game Brad rewarded the effort with as many minutes as he could handle as he was one of the few laying it all out there. That’s my read on the minutes anyway.
I agree with all of this. Brad telegraphed that a Nesmith opportunity was coming, but the player took advantage of it. If he can stay on the court and the shots start falling, there's upside.
 

NomarsFool

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Ainge only has so many arrows in his quiver. He’s faced with a particularly difficult decision about whether to spend them on a short term (likely complementary) piece or to hold onto them and try and make a bigger splash next summer. Of course if there was a great player available that would also be young and under team control that’d be perfect, but usually you have to make some kind of trade off. Somebody on the bench needs to take - let’s not call it a leap- but at least some kind of noticeable progression or no matter what that other piece is, I don’t think it’s enough. For me, I’d like to stop this play a guy for a couple games and then DNPCD him stuff. Just pick a guy or two and give them two weeks of rope to see what you have there.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Ainge only has so many arrows in his quiver. He’s faced with a particularly difficult decision about whether to spend them on a short term (likely complementary) piece or to hold onto them and try and make a bigger splash next summer. Of course if there was a great player available that would also be young and under team control that’d be perfect, but usually you have to make some kind of trade off. Somebody on the bench needs to take - let’s not call it a leap- but at least some kind of noticeable progression or no matter what that other piece is, I don’t think it’s enough. For me, I’d like to stop this play a guy for a couple games and then DNPCD him stuff. Just pick a guy or two and give them two weeks of rope to see what you have there.
Brad’s job is to put his players in the best position to succeed and to give his team the best chance to win the game. Are you advocating ignoring matchups to not prioritize winning that particular game? That’s what it sounds like and I couldn’t disagree more.
 

Cellar-Door

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Ainge only has so many arrows in his quiver. He’s faced with a particularly difficult decision about whether to spend them on a short term (likely complementary) piece or to hold onto them and try and make a bigger splash next summer. Of course if there was a great player available that would also be young and under team control that’d be perfect, but usually you have to make some kind of trade off. Somebody on the bench needs to take - let’s not call it a leap- but at least some kind of noticeable progression or no matter what that other piece is, I don’t think it’s enough. For me, I’d like to stop this play a guy for a couple games and then DNPCD him stuff. Just pick a guy or two and give them two weeks of rope to see what you have there.
Brad kind of alluded to this earlier in the day, but he basically said...we haven't played well and our record isn't good. It would be easier to give guys looks and keep down Jaylen and Jayson's minutes if we had a better record, but we need to win games.
Brad is going to coach to win each game at this point, and that means the deeper bench guys will fluctuate based on matchup and performance. The one good thing for Nesmith is....a lot of the guys in front of him have been bad lately, and he has looked engaged and active. Could start eating into trick or treat Grant's minutes, and while Javonte usually brings energy and defensive pressure, Nesmith could see some of his minutes too.
 

128

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Brad kind of alluded to this earlier in the day, but he basically said...we haven't played well and our record isn't good. It would be easier to give guys looks and keep down Jaylen and Jayson's minutes if we had a better record, but we need to win games.
Brad is going to coach to win each game at this point, and that means the deeper bench guys will fluctuate based on matchup and performance. The one good thing for Nesmith is....a lot of the guys in front of him have been bad lately, and he has looked engaged and active. Could start eating into trick or treat Grant's minutes, and while Javonte usually brings energy and defensive pressure, Nesmith could see some of his minutes too.
I'm a Javonte fan, and he's perfect as an 11th or 12th man, but we know what his ceiling is. I don't think all the playing time in the world will make him a good shooter or polished offensive player. Unless Brad is convinced playing Nesmith over Javonte is going to turn wins into losses, Nesmith should get those minutes.
 

Cellar-Door

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I'm a Javonte fan, and he's perfect as an 11th or 12th man, but we know what his ceiling is. I don't think all the playing time in the world will make him a good shooter or polished offensive player. Unless Brad is convinced playing Nesmith over Javonte is going to turn wins into losses, Nesmith should get those minutes.
I think it's as basic as... Javonte is playing when Brad needs someone to spark the defensive intensity. He's been getting limited minutes, and usually it's when we're playing lazy D and Brad wants his energy on-ball and in the passing lanes in the hope it gets guys like Brown, Tatum, etc. engaged.
 

lovegtm

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I know the reasons for the struggles (missing Smart, thin down the line, etc), but this exact roster, with Kemba having knee troubles, made the ECF and easily could have made the finals. And Smart hasn’t missed *that* many games.

Something feels off in the vibe this year, in the way that something felt off in 2018-2019. I would wager large amounts of money that Danny regrets not shaking that up midseason when the warning signs were there. I think he won’t make the same mistake twice—they need to upgrade.
 

NomarsFool

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Brad’s job is to put his players in the best position to succeed and to give his team the best chance to win the game. Are you advocating ignoring matchups to not prioritize winning that particular game? That’s what it sounds like and I couldn’t disagree more.
I think the difference between optimizing the guys from 8-12 on the bench is essentially meaningless over the course of the regular season (which especially this year, hardly matters at all). If that results in 1-2 more wins, I don't really care. I'd rather they prioritize development to see which of those guys can/should be #8-9.

I also don't see the logic in playing Jaylen Brown or Kemba Walker when we're down by 20 points with 6 minutes to go in the 4th quarter. The long game is more important than the short game, here.
 

lexrageorge

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I think the difference between optimizing the guys from 8-12 on the bench is essentially meaningless over the course of the regular season (which especially this year, hardly matters at all). If that results in 1-2 more wins, I don't really care. I'd rather they prioritize development to see which of those guys can/should be #8-9.

I also don't see the logic in playing Jaylen Brown or Kemba Walker when we're down by 20 points with 6 minutes to go in the 4th quarter. The long game is more important than the short game, here.
There is not a singe head coach in the NBA for a playoff team that would have done what you suggest with Brown and Kemba.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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The Cs seem mentally fatigued to me. They seem to be playing lots of individual ball with little to no connection on either end. Their offense in particular has been a slog and they aren't getting many easy baskets (something like 28th in points.100 and assists per 100); they're also committing dumb TOs - all of which are leading to easy easy transition baskets for the other team. Getting into the bonus early really killed them yesterday.

They also don't seem to be generating much offense off their defense, which always has been important to them.

They are getting good individual performances but - aside from TOR - no one is really aren't playing great basketball right now. I'm sure Brad lies in bed at night trying to figure out how to fix it.
 

Cesar Crespo

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There is not a singe head coach in the NBA for a playoff team that would have done what you suggest with Brown and Kemba.
Stevens emptied the bench at like 5:30.

Kemba and Brown really shouldn't be playing in a regular season game behind 25 with 6 minutes left.

Maybe NF suggested something else and I missed it. Of course, Kemba and Brown didn't really play much beyond that 6 minute mark either. I have no issues with them playing the first couple minutes of the 4th in a blow out game.
 

CoffeeNerdness

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Here's Jaylen's response to a question about ball movement:

View: https://twitter.com/KeithSmithNBA/status/1361063626946342916


Jaylen Brown on the lack of ball movement for the Celtics: "(long pause) I have no comment."
I think this is a super frustrating issue for players and fans alike. On the surface, it seems like a simple problem with a simple solution: move the damned ball. The coach has to be able to correct this.
 

HomeRunBaker

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I think the difference between optimizing the guys from 8-12 on the bench is essentially meaningless over the course of the regular season (which especially this year, hardly matters at all). If that results in 1-2 more wins, I don't really care. I'd rather they prioritize development to see which of those guys can/should be #8-9.

I also don't see the logic in playing Jaylen Brown or Kemba Walker when we're down by 20 points with 6 minutes to go in the 4th quarter. The long game is more important than the short game, here.
Jaylen and Kemba returned to the game with 7:30 remaining down 21 vs the Wizards for their normal rotation replacing Tatum and Nesmith. That’s 7 possessions with nearly 2/3 of the 4Q remaining in which we had 17 possessions to the buzzer. That isn’t a time to quit on a game against arguably the worst team in the league when a quick 8-0 run cuts it to 13 with half of the 4Q to go prior to bringing Tatum back into the game. Instead, the Wizards hit 3’s on their next two possessions bumping the lead to 25 then Brad emptied the bench at the 6-min mark.
 

lovegtm

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This feels like one of those things where fans are grasping for reasons to blame the coach when the front office, players, and compressed schedule are much more it fault.

I’m old enough to remember 1.5 years ago when everyone wanted Stevens head, and then Danny fixed the roster and he was suddenly a good coach again. Crazy how that works!
 

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Worst news of the season.
I agree especially because I think we're both worried for what this might mean for JT longer term. I do think that maybe this means Ainge doesn't go all in this year. Ride it out with Kemba and the kids until the summer. Wait until hopefully Tatum gets back to himself or has time to heal more anyway and put your chips in after the season.
 

radsoxfan

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At least potentially worrisome news.... though hard to really know how much long term this means, I read players aren't allowed to even workout over the quarantine. Any of these guys are going to be a little out of shape after doing nothing for a couple weeks and jumping right back into the season.

On the bright side, I saw somewhere he just had a day or two of mild symptoms and never felt that sick.

On the not so bright side... I've seen plenty of CT's of people for trauma, pain, random complaints unrelated to COVID that had ugly COVID looking lungs and ended up testing positive. So no respiratory symptoms doesn't mean his lungs didn't take a hit.

Taking a step back big picture, given he didn't get very sick and is young/healthy, the odds are still in his favor for returning back to normal without any long term issues. Of course, we learn things about this terrible virus every day so nothing is assured.

Hows that for a wishy-washy opinion?
 

Saints Rest

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At least potentially worrisome news.... though hard to really know how much long term this means, I read players aren't allowed to even workout over the quarantine. Any of these guys are going to be a little out of shape after doing nothing for a couple weeks and jumping right back into the season.

On the bright side, I saw somewhere he just had a day or two of mild symptoms and never felt that sick.

On the not so bright side... I've seen plenty of CT's of people for trauma, pain, random complaints unrelated to COVID that had ugly COVID looking lungs and ended up testing positive. So no respiratory symptoms doesn't mean his lungs didn't take a hit.

Taking a step back big picture, given he didn't get very sick and is young/healthy, the odds are still in his favor for returning back to normal without any long term issues. Of course, we learn things about this terrible virus every day so nothing is assured.

Hows that for a wishy-washy opinion?
No $10 for you.
 

Light-Tower-Power

ask me about My Pillow
SoSH Member
Jun 14, 2013
11,011
Nashua, NH
If you read the full article, it sounds like something that is getting better and not something that he’s dealing with all the time. I also have to imagine that taking a couple weeks off of workouts hasn’t helped either. Seems like something to keep an eye on but not be panicked over.