Celtics Plan, Summer 2021

BigSoxFan

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I know I’ll probably flip flop on this 50 times but feels like Brad Stevens has done a stellar job crafting a playoff competitive team while also gaining significant salary flexibility for 2022.
Yup. Hard to argue with these results. We’ll be pretty good this year and we have a reasonable path to Beal should that materialize. Best we can hope for at this point.
 

Cesar Crespo

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I know I’ll probably flip flop on this 50 times but feels like Brad Stevens has done a stellar job crafting a playoff competitive team while also gaining significant salary flexibility for 2022.
Part of me thinks that and another part of me thinks he got bailed out on the river. Schroder changes things drastically.
 

Average Game James

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Part of me thinks that and another part of me thinks he got bailed out on the river. Schroder changes things drastically.
Did he get bailed out, or did he read the market well? There were a few posters here that called out the game of PG musical chairs at the start of free agency. The optimistic read is Brad went into the off-season valuing 2022 flexibility above all else, but he knew someone would be left at the end that could be had for 1 year on short money. He stayed disciplined and Schroeder fell into his lap.
 

Rustjive

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Part of me thinks that and another part of me thinks he got bailed out on the river. Schroder changes things drastically.
It doesn't matter all that much. Before Schroder we were a 5-8 seed, after Schroder we are a 4-6 seed. Higher floor, higher ceiling, but in the end still not a contender. Maybe puts us in the tax or deprives us of an asset if we find it hard to move Dunn, maybe reduces Romeo's future growth a little. Schroder can't be part of long term plans so whatever changes are simply for the year. Schroder is definitely a 'great bit of business' but zoom out and we're just working on the margins.
 

bsj

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Part of me thinks that and another part of me thinks he got bailed out on the river. Schroder changes things drastically.

It doesn't matter all that much. Before Schroder we were a 5-8 seed, after Schroder we are a 4-6 seed. Higher floor, higher ceiling, but in the end still not a contender. Maybe puts us in the tax or deprives us of an asset if we find it hard to move Dunn, maybe reduces Romeo's future growth a little. Schroder can't be part of long term plans so whatever changes are simply for the year. Schroder is definitely a 'great bit of business' but zoom out and we're just working on the margins.
I think Brad was looking to

a) Create salary flexibilty for 2022
and
b) improve the team by changing the way it was built, and bring in guys that meshed better together than last years. I think the goal was any reasonable improvement over last year even if just from .500 to maybe a 44-38 type season.

He had achieved a and b IMO prior to Schroder. I think prior to him coming aboard, this was a team that could get from a 7 seed to a 6 maybe even a 5. Getting Schroder, to Rust's point, certainly makes the 5, maybe even top 4 doable.

Dennis is a bonus indeed but i think was the best case scenario within the plan for sure.
 

JCizzle

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I know I’ll probably flip flop on this 50 times but feels like Brad Stevens has done a stellar job crafting a playoff competitive team while also gaining significant salary flexibility for 2022.
To your point, I just saw this from Celtics Blog. We'll still be fighting for a top-5 spot, but we definitely incrementally improved.

 

HomeRunBaker

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Part of me thinks that and another part of me thinks he got bailed out on the river. Schroder changes things drastically.
What’s the adage? Luck is when opportunity and preparation meet.

How would Ainge’s tenure have looked had KG not been available? All you can do as a GM is prepare for Plans A to Z and then when the best one becomes available you are in position to make a play. Brad was the last GM I believe to sign a FA this summer so he was anticipating something like this becoming available......or maybe he lucked out. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for being patient with the ultimate goal of a Beal/Smart swap over the next 12 months.
 

Cesar Crespo

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They are set up a lot better to take advantage of any real growth from Tatum, Brown, if RL, AN, PP take a leap or TL plays a full season..

The end of the bench guys have some potential too. I like this team a lot better than last year's team, and the roster construction is way better.
 

HomeRunBaker

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They are set up a lot better to take advantage of any real growth from Tatum, Brown, if RL, AN, PP take a leap or TL plays a full season..

The end of the bench guys have some potential too. I like this team a lot better than last year's team, and the roster construction is way better.
It’s probably the most complete roster construction we’ve seen since the KG years. We’ve spent the end of Ainge’s tenure complaining about having too many iso scorers or not enough scorers. Pretty much every role is checked off with a player who can fill it along with many who have the flexibility to check off multiple boxes. I cut Brad a lot of slack the past few years due to Ainge’s failures in this regard but this season the pressure is all on Udoka to get the most out of this group bc the pieces are there for success.
 

lexrageorge

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It doesn't matter all that much. Before Schroder we were a 5-8 seed, after Schroder we are a 4-6 seed. Higher floor, higher ceiling, but in the end still not a contender. Maybe puts us in the tax or deprives us of an asset if we find it hard to move Dunn, maybe reduces Romeo's future growth a little. Schroder can't be part of long term plans so whatever changes are simply for the year. Schroder is definitely a 'great bit of business' but zoom out and we're just working on the margins.
The Schroder signing will not put them in the tax territory by itself. They may still end up there, but only if they find a deadline deal that vaults them into it.

There is strategic benefit to keeping the Jay's happy, and surrounding them with veteran role players that complement their skills was the best we could have realistically hoped for this offseason. And Romeo is in his 3rd year and will need to find a way to earn his minutes. There will be plenty of maintenance days for the starters on the schedule for him to do just that.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Agreed---while overall I am an Ainge fan the roster construction was pretty rough the last couple years, and the drafting was iffy. That and a talent drain left them in a tough spot last year. This roster is more flexible and versatile, though it still is crying out for a bit more high-end capability. As HRB notes that likely requires a deal and they are well-positioned salary-wise and back-filling wise to do that. Though, talent-wise it will require a whole bunch of pick capital.
 

Rustjive

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The Schroder signing will not put them in the tax territory by itself.
They are in the tax with no other moves. Spotrac's line about their tax situation does not include his deal or Kanter's deal because both are pending. But add up the numbers and they're 6.6m over the tax line - the easiest way to get under that line is to cut Jabari and trade Dunn.
 

the moops

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They are in the tax with no other moves. Spotrac's line about their tax situation does not include his deal or Kanter's deal because both are pending. But add up the numbers and they're 6.6m over the tax line - the easiest way to get under that line is to cut Jabari and trade Dunn.
Good catch. This is accurate
 

HomeRunBaker

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They are in the tax with no other moves. Spotrac's line about their tax situation does not include his deal or Kanter's deal because both are pending. But add up the numbers and they're 6.6m over the tax line - the easiest way to get under that line is to cut Jabari and trade Dunn.
These should be the expected outcomes anyway. I’d be shocked if they weren’t.
 

Jimbodandy

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These should be the expected outcomes anyway. I’d be shocked if they weren’t.
Seems most likely, but there are a lot of options now. By improving the middle and bottom of the roster, now we have some guys that we could move without paying to do so.

Jabari definitely shouldn't buy any green bananas.
 

Cesar Crespo

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What’s the adage? Luck is when opportunity and preparation meet.

How would Ainge’s tenure have looked had KG not been available? All you can do as a GM is prepare for Plans A to Z and then when the best one becomes available you are in position to make a play. Brad was the last GM I believe to sign a FA this summer so he was anticipating something like this becoming available......or maybe he lucked out. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for being patient with the ultimate goal of a Beal/Smart swap over the next 12 months.
I think he was anticipating it and thought he'd end up with someone like Satoransky, not Schroder.

Interesting Schroder stat: From 16-3' he is a career .433 shooter. His career FT % is .831, too. So Rajon Rondo he is not. I hope he's using all summer taking 3s. The last 3 years, he is shooting ..355 from 3 on 4.4 attempts/g.

Him and Smart together may cause some issues if they are both shooting 33% from 3 but if one can be closer to league average, a TL/Tatum/Brown/DS/Smart lineup is good defensively and on offense should be able to move the ball around pretty well. Brown would be the worse passer of the group and you'd want him driving to the hoop anyway.

Hopefully Josh Richardson can make slight improvements too, but he's a nice option off the bench. I like the DS/Smart combo to start the game but I could see JRich starting if the C's don't want to use PP as the back up PG.

The team will need PP to continue to shoot as well as he did last year. With Smart/Schroder/JRich and maybe even Dunn, 3 point shooting could potentially be a problem. AN stepping up would help a lot. I'm not high on RL at all, but I won't rehash why.

Bruno is an NBA body at the very least. I don't like Carsen or Grant that much but the latter is serviceable and Carsen would probably get minutes on a team like Detroit or OKC.

I'd guess Tatum shows at least moderate growth from last year and that Jaylen shows incremental growth. Horford is probably closer to "Average Al" than the guy we saw before but Average Al is a valuable player. TL is a wild card. If he stays healthy for a full 82 and can stay on the court for 30 minutes a game, it could turn the team from pretender to contender. I'm guessing Jabari is gone.

Hauser is fine on a 2 way, assuming he ends up with one of them. There is potentially a spot for Madar, and potentially a 2 way deal for Begarin. I don't see either as all that likely. Of the 2, I think Begarin is more likely. If a 2 way for Madar was a possibility, that would change my mind.

I'm really high on Begarin too. He's an athletic freak with a motor and length. Madar at least has a motor. Curious how people think his length matches up after having seen him in summer league. He's definitely on the light side but some were questioning his height/length. He's not the best athlete but I think PP's athletic enough to play in the NBA as a bench player. Begarin's ceiling is probably higher than any of us feel comfortable writing down. This is a guy who could have been a lottery pick next year had he waited, and one that went higher than 14th overall. Minus Tatum and Brown (and maybe TL) he might have the highest ceiling on the team.


Anyway, long winded post. I like this team SOOOOO MUCH MORE than last years. I'd maybe look to add another 3 point shooter with some gravity. Barring that, I'd give Madar the 15th and Begarin the 2nd 2 way, but it's probably not the wisest idea to lock up the 15th roster spot with a guaranteed deal. I'd also look to add a stretch 4 who can play the 5, but I think everyone is always looking for that.

This team doesn't really have any completely wasted roster spots like Semi, Tremont, Fall, Jevonte. Even the players I don't like are young enough and have theoretical value if not actual value (Grant, Edwards, Dunn, RL). The top 8 only consists of 2 bigs. Those 2 bigs are very different from each other too, except that they both are excellent passers for their position. The only player that looks like a total waste of a roster spot atm is Jabari Parker. Maybe Hauser but he probably spends all his time in Maine.
 
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Cesar Crespo

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Agreed---while overall I am an Ainge fan the roster construction was pretty rough the last couple years, and the drafting was iffy. That and a talent drain left them in a tough spot last year. This roster is more flexible and versatile, though it still is crying out for a bit more high-end capability. As HRB notes that likely requires a deal and they are well-positioned salary-wise and back-filling wise to do that. Though, talent-wise it will require a whole bunch of pick capital.
I thought Ainge's tenure as the Boston GM was good overall but that he was definitely starting to slip the last couple years. Surprisingly, the drafting isn't even all that iffy if one of RL or AN pan out. He hit on TL and PP. Grant is fine for his draft slot. He just wasted picks on redundancy for some reason. It's not the end of the world that Carsen Edwards and Waters didn't pan out, but why do you need to draft both of them? He also had to burn a bunch of 1st rounders on guys who were not first rounders (Zizic, Yabu) or maybe passed on using a pick (partly to move salary) because there were no roster spots open even though Semi Ojeleye is on the f'n roster. I think the Bane trade was the correct move and that they signed the wrong players, but there were roster spots open. Or at least, there easily could have been. I think Ainge fell in love with certain players (Jevonte, Semi) and held on to them at the expense of better opportunities.

I'm liking PBS so far. The Schroder deal changes everything for me. All the deals and move prior were nice, but they weren't making much sense. It was made worse by knowing the C's could have easily had Delon Wright. It almost looks like they were completely punting for next year. Not even trying to bridge. With Schroder on board, all the smaller deals are fitting in place. With a little developmental luck and injury luck, who knows? Plus all these moves haven't prevented a Beal move next offseason from what I can tell.

Is there a way to sign Beal next year and keep DS? That would definitely mean no MS, and probably no TL? A Tatum/Brown/Beal/Schroder core would be interesting, though, It's even more interesting with a healthy TL in the middle.
 

ColonelMustard

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I'm in agreement with @Cesar Crespo over the roster construction of this team but I have a few more wildcards/risks to the layout. This team is fast, athletic, and long. This year seems to have a strong mix of veteran leadership with youth biting at their heels. They should be a strong defensive team but I think they will go through their scoring gluts as they did last year unless contract year Marcus or contract year Schroder show up with a higher 3P%. I think they are now in the CONVERSATION for number 3 in the East behind the Nets and Bucks (whichever order).

Wherefore art thou Romeo - I am high on Romeo and his athleticism. You don't do what he does without the skills being there. He just has to put it together (big if). With the new rules around offensive contact, I believe his defensive body control can have even a stronger impact on the game's outcome.

(A caveat - health is of course important for all players. I am calling it out for those with history. I understand it does not correlate to future health strongly but prior injury risk is always there.

I tried to rank mine.
  1. Brown health (full season)
  2. TL health (full season)
  3. Smart >.35 3P% at 5 to 6 attempts (accomplished once but less than 5 attempts)
  4. Schroder >.35 3Ps (accomplished once but less than 5 attempts)
  5. Schroder mental health and shooting less than 15 overall attempts/game
  6. PP growth as distributor and finisher at the rim
  7. Romeo health and >.30 3P%
  8. AB >.35 3Ps% / defensive lapses
  9. Continued growth from Tatum (low risk but risk none the same)
 
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Rustjive

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Is there a way to sign Beal next year and keep DS? That would definitely mean no MS, and probably no TL? A Tatum/Brown/Beal/Schroder core would be interesting, though, It's even more interesting with a healthy TL in the middle.
Almost impossible to keep DS short of him taking another discount ala Bobby Portis. The only way to sign him to more than 120% of this year's salary or next year's full MLE would be into actual cap space, which we wouldn't likely have. If you make that cap space by renouncing Smart and declining options then it gets hard to trade for Beal with only Horford's partial guarantee. Outright signing would be of course out of the question.

If he has a great time here then I suppose the discount - 1+player option into the promise (purely unspoken, don't want to get Joe Smith-ed here) of getting paid with Bird rights down the road might make a core, but that's asking a guy to hold off a long time for his payday.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Almost impossible to keep DS short of him taking another discount ala Bobby Portis. The only way to sign him to more than 120% of this year's salary or next year's full MLE would be into actual cap space, which we wouldn't likely have. If you make that cap space by renouncing Smart and declining options then it gets hard to trade for Beal with only Horford's partial guarantee. Outright signing would be of course out of the question.

If he has a great time here then I suppose the discount - 1+player option into the promise (purely unspoken, don't want to get Joe Smith-ed here) of getting paid with Bird rights down the road might make a core, but that's asking a guy to hold off a long time for his payday.
I don’t mind that we’ll be looking for another veteran guard next year as the depth at the position is growing exponentially so there will be good players available on cheap short term deals. The benefit to having The Jays and hopefully Beal is that it isn’t all about talent but fit and a specific role. Steve Kerr might be doing radio broadcasts today if he didn’t land in his ideal role next to Jordan. When you have top end talent you can plug-in the other pieces fairly easily.
 

Jimbodandy

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I have no interest in long term Schroeder. He's as nutty as squirrel poo. One year, make good deal on him is fantastic.

Down with most of the above otherwise.
 

lovegtm

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....When you have top end talent you can plug-in the other pieces fairly easily.
I'm just repeating what others are saying, but man does it feel good to have a GM who is laser-focused on this.

The roster construction makes tons of sense, there is room for young guys to pop without depending on them, and the team has full flexibility and matching contracts lined up for any All The Picks deal that comes along.
 

chilidawg

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I'm in agreement with @Cesar Crespo over the roster construction of this team but I have a few more wildcards/risks to the layout. This team is fast, athletic, and long. This year seems to have a strong mix of veteran leadership with youth biting at their heels. They should be a strong defensive team but I think they will go through their scoring gluts as they did last year unless contract year Marcus or contract year Schroder show up with a higher 3P%. I think they are now in the CONVERSATION for number 3 in the East behind the Nets and Bucks (whichever order).

Wherefore art thou Romeo - I am high on Romeo and his athleticism. You don't do what he does without the skills being there. He just has to put it together (big if). With the new rules around offensive contact, I believe his defensive body control can have even a stronger impact on the game's outcome.

(A caveat - health is of course important for all players. I am calling it out for those with history. I understand it does not correlate to future health strongly but prior injury risk is always there.

I tried to rank mine.
  1. Brown health (full season)
  2. TL health (full season)
  3. Smart >.35 3P% at 5 to 6 attempts (accomplished once but less than 5 attempts)
  4. Schroder >.35 3Ps (accomplished once but less than 5 attempts)
  5. Schroder mental health and shooting less than 15 overall attempts/game
  6. PP growth as distributor and finisher at the rim
  7. Romeo health and >.30 3P%
  8. AB >.35 3Ps% / defensive lapses
  9. Continued growth from Tatum (low risk but risk none the same)
Nesmith developing into a legit 3 and D guy would be big as well. This team needs that kind of perimeter gravitas.
 

BigSoxFan

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I have no interest in long term Schroeder. He's as nutty as squirrel poo.
You said it far more eloquently than I could have but, yeah, I want no part of a long-term commitment for Schroeder. He’s exactly the type of player you regret an extension for before the ink dries. Great as a cheap stop gap option though.
 

tbb345

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Sorry I don’t have a specific post to reply too with this but isn’t the obvious closing 5 Smart-Schroeder-Jays and either Al or TL?

I actually like Richardson and think people are way overrating him here. To me, he seems like the bench facilitator and he plays around 25 MPG.

The addition of DS does seem to make Dunn redundant. Is he still on the team at the beginning of the year or is he moved for a 2nd?
 

Cellar-Door

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Sorry I don’t have a specific post to reply too with this but isn’t the obvious closing 5 Smart-Schroeder-Jays and either Al or TL?

I actually like Richardson and think people are way overrating him here. To me, he seems like the bench facilitator and he plays around 25 MPG.

The addition of DS does seem to make Dunn redundant. Is he still on the team at the beginning of the year or is he moved for a 2nd?
I don't think Schroder is an obvious closer. I think currently the obvious closers are Tatum, Brown and Smart, and that they'll mix/match the 5 and the 2 based on matchup and need. Need more D, it's probably Richardson (or Romeo if he shoots well), need ball handling it's probably Schroder, need another 3pt threat it's Nesmith or even PP.
 

radsoxfan

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I don’t think Smart and DS pair well at all closing games to be honest.

One iffy shooter clogs things up enough, 2 is a big problem.

I think shooting is going to be an issue, PP and (hopefully) Nesmith will have a chance for important minutes but not sure they are going to be in the closing 5 consistently either.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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TL is a wild card. If he stays healthy for a full 82 and can stay on the court for 30 minutes a game, it could turn the team from pretender to contender.
I think the success of this season is almost directly correlated to how many minutes TL plays. I hope TL has figured out what he needs to do to stay healthy for an entire season.
 

TripleOT

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I think the success of this season is almost directly correlated to how many minutes TL plays. I hope TL has figured out what he needs to do to stay healthy for an entire season.
Having AL back, and to a lesser extent, Kanter, hedges their bet on TL staying on the court. If TL can play 30 mpg for at least 70 games, this would be a 55 win team.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Having AL back, and to a lesser extent, Kanter, hedges their bet on TL staying on the court. If TL can play 30 mpg for at least 70 games, this would be a 55 win team.
Agree but I think your minutes projection is quite optimistic. If TL can play 1800 minutes this year and at least 80% of the playoffs, I'm bullish on the Cs.
 

Euclis20

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Having AL back, and to a lesser extent, Kanter, hedges their bet on TL staying on the court. If TL can play 30 mpg for at least 70 games, this would be a 55 win team.
TL has played 1864 minutes total (including playoffs) in his entire career. If he could somehow play 2100+ that'd be unbelievable, I'd happily settle for him playing 1500 (in the regular season) and being good to go for the playoffs.
 

ColonelMustard

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Nesmith developing into a legit 3 and D guy would be big as well. This team needs that kind of perimeter gravitas.
Fat fingers! Not "AB" but "AN". Absolutely. His summer league highlight looked amazing (didn't catch the game). To your point, if Tatum has more space to operate...
 
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nighthob

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Having AL back, and to a lesser extent, Kanter, hedges their bet on TL staying on the court. If TL can play 30 mpg for at least 70 games, this would be a 55 win team.
If Williams could play 30 m/g for 70 regular season games you’ll know that he’s sold his soul to Satan.
 

Jimbodandy

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Fat fingers! Not "AB" but "AN". Absolutely. His summer league highlight looked amazing (didn't catch the game). To your point, if Tatum has more space to operate...
His actual game was even better than the highlight reel, because it's only a 40 minute game in summer league. He looked like the best player out there for large parts of the night. The box score doesn't really tell the story.
 

lovegtm

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I know people like to pump the brakes whenever a young Celtics player does good things, but if AN can shoot, he's going to get a lot more minutes than people expect.
 

reggiecleveland

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I...guess? AN becoming a good shooter next year isn't some crazy outcome.
I just find it funny, that's all. Many, many times I have stood around a gym watching a kid and said to the other coached "if he learns to shoot..." Sorry a bit like "If he's a good player he will be a good player"

Laughing at the wish casting we all do with guys on our team, when all we can do is wait. I literally just emailed a buddy about a kid we work with "if he can shoot..."

As for the Devers conversation we say the same thing about Dalbec, Lars Anderson, JBJ, etc.
 

lexrageorge

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I just find it funny, that's all. Many, many times I have stood around a gym watching a kid and said to the other coached "if he learns to shoot..." Sorry a bit like "If he's a good player he will be a good player"

Laughing at the wish casting we all do with guys on our team, when all we can do is wait. I literally just emailed a buddy about a kid we work with "if he can shoot..."

As for the Devers conversation we say the same thing about Dalbec, Lars Anderson, JBJ, etc.
But at least JBJ had a couple of key home runs against the Astros.
 

nighthob

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I just find it funny, that's all. Many, many times I have stood around a gym watching a kid and said to the other coached "if he learns to shoot..." Sorry a bit like "If he's a good player he will be a good player"

Laughing at the wish casting we all do with guys on our team, when all we can do is wait. I literally just emailed a buddy about a kid we work with "if he can shoot..."

As for the Devers conversation we say the same thing about Dalbec, Lars Anderson, JBJ, etc.
Romeo Langford had a mediocre shot, and if he could learn to shoot he’d be a really good player. Aaron Nesmith actually can shoot, he just needs to slow the game down to make it easier to get in rhythm. So I’m not sure it’s really the same thing.
 

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Romeo Langford had a mediocre shot, and if he could learn to shoot he’d be a really good player. Aaron Nesmith actually can shoot, he just needs to slow the game down to make it easier to get in rhythm. So I’m not sure it’s really the same thing.
I’d like to see Nesmith expand his range the way Pritchard has which will go a long way in curing his separation issues to get cleaner looks. He looked so much better in G2 by foregoing attempts to penetrate as he attempted in G1. Like we were discussing about House and Carsen, he needs to get comfortable with where his shots are coming from on the floor and for his teammates to be comfortable as to where he’s looking to be. G1 was a disaster in this regard, G2 was perfect.
 

nighthob

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I’d like to see Nesmith expand his range the way Pritchard has which will go a long way in curing his separation issues to get cleaner looks. He looked so much better in G2 by foregoing attempts to penetrate as he attempted in G1. Like we were discussing about House and Carsen, he needs to get comfortable with where his shots are coming from on the floor and for his teammates to be comfortable as to where he’s looking to be. G1 was a disaster in this regard, G2 was perfect.
Him expanding the floor will make him a bigger weapon for Boston, but ultimately I'm not as worried about the separation issues. He's not coming here to be Klay Thompson, he's coming here to be Duncan Robinson. By year's end he was getting reliable from three, if he can expand his range another five feet it will mean scads of open treys playing off the Jay-Crew.

For me the best part of his late season play was the D, though. If he can make another jump there he could well be the high end 3&D guy the Jay-Crew needs to compete effectively for a title.
 

reggiecleveland

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Mar 5, 2004
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But at least JBJ had a couple of key home runs against the Astros.
Missed my point. JBJ wasa almost a 6 WAR player at his best. He was a very good player for 5 years. Point is we hope our prosepcrts pan out, and we phrase it in hopeful terms. 'If he shoots.." or "If he hits..." are million dollar (literally for player involved) questions. Just a quirk of sports where we wish out loud. "If our starter puts up zeroes..." "If we force two fumbles..." etc.
 

lexrageorge

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Jul 31, 2007
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Missed my point. JBJ wasa almost a 6 WAR player at his best. He was a very good player for 5 years. Point is we hope our prosepcrts pan out, and we phrase it in hopeful terms. 'If he shoots.." or "If he hits..." are million dollar (literally for player involved) questions. Just a quirk of sports where we wish out loud. "If our starter puts up zeroes..." "If we force two fumbles..." etc.
Sports is full of "if only..." or "if he..." or "if she...".