Celtics-Raptors 2nd Round--Dethrone the Champs

bigq

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If Lowry and Hayward are both out for the series who is the favored team?
 

amarshal2

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I was really hoping they wouldn’t start right away. There will still be teams playing in round 1 when this series starts. If they keep doing this the Bucks series will begin before the estimated date of Hayward’s return. (I know that date was a guess anyway but still.)
 

lovegtm

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If Lowry and Hayward are both out for the series who is the favored team?
Celtics pretty clearly imo.

As it is, I'll say Celtics in 6. Healthy Kemba makes a way bigger difference than people think, and Brown will take away a lot of Siakam's mismatch advantage on offense.

This isn't a homer thing: I am going to pick Milwaukee in 5-6 if that series happens.
 
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RedOctober3829

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Celtics pretty clearly imo.

As it is, I'll say Celtics in 6. Healthy Kemba makes a way bigger difference than people think, and Brown will take away a lot of Siakam's mismatch advantage on offense.

This isn't a homer thing: I am going to pick Milwaukee in 5-6 if that series happens.
I think Miami is going to give Milwaukee fits next series. Let's see if they make it beyond them.
 

NomarsFool

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I felt like the Celtics missed Hayward a bit more than I expected them to during the Philly series. On the offensive end, Langford looked - I don't know - jittery or something. Limited sample size, but he ended up shooting 33% from 2 during the playoffs and looked bad on the few drives to the basket (getting swallowed up or blocked a few times). Toronto is a tougher defensive team than Philly, so I'm a little concerned about who takes Hayward's minutes. I'm not a big Semi fan. GW obviously hit some huge 3s against Philly, and did some nice things with screens. I didn't think he rebounded that well and had a few awful fouls. So, it was a little up and down for him, I thought.
 

Euclis20

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Celtics in 5 if no Lowry. There’s just not any offense left there. This would be like Pacers-Celtics 2019.
That'd be nice, but this Raptors team (minus Lowry) has a lot more weapons than last year's Pacers team (minus Oladipo). The Pacers had just one player who averaged 15+ ppg (Bogdanovic at 18.0), the Raptors have four (Siakam at 22.9, VanVleet at 17.6, Powell at 16.0 and Ibaka at 15.4). Losing Lowry tips the scales in the Celtics favor without a doubt, but nowhere near the Indy series last year imo.
 

lovegtm

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That'd be nice, but this Raptors team (minus Lowry) has a lot more weapons than last year's Pacers team (minus Oladipo). The Pacers had just one player who averaged 15+ ppg (Bogdanovic at 18.0), the Raptors have four (Siakam at 22.9, VanVleet at 17.6, Powell at 16.0 and Ibaka at 15.4). Losing Lowry tips the scales in the Celtics favor without a doubt, but nowhere near the Indy series last year imo.
Powell and Ibaka are PPG totals, not serious playoff offensive weapons.
 

Euclis20

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Powell and Ibaka are PPG totals, not serious playoff offensive weapons.
I'm not sure what this means, although I agree they aren't serious playoff offensive weapons. However, both VanVleet and Siakam are definitely serious playoff offensive weapons, far more than Bogdanovic last year.
 

RorschachsMask

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I'm not sure what this means, although I agree they aren't serious playoff offensive weapons. However, both VanVleet and Siakam are definitely serious playoff offensive weapons, far more than Bogdanovic last year.
If you keep Siakam from scoring in transition, he is a pretty poor scorer in the halfcourt. His numbers and efficiency has gotten worse as the season has gone on. Very good player, but absolutely not a real number one scorer.

VanVleet has become a legitimate really good offensive player though. I think Powell has made a jump as a scorer, but he seriously benefits from their awesome ball movement.

Lowry is their most important player, if he is out, the Celts will just pull away in the second half of every game.
 
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DJnVa

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I'm not sure what this means, although I agree they aren't serious playoff offensive weapons. However, both VanVleet and Siakam are definitely serious playoff offensive weapons, far more than Bogdanovic last year.
Sure, but look at what the on-court matchups were if they had Lowry and if they don't. That's a huge loss.
 

lovegtm

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No, I do not think that the 2020 Toronto Raptors are the same as the 2019 Indiana Pacers. However, the 2020 Boston Celtics are also a much better team on both ends than their prior iteration.

Without Lowry the Raptors will be well-coached and play their asses off. There will be a lot of rock-fight minutes, and close games. However, especially with Brown on Siakam (and the ability to load up on Siakam with help), they just won’t quite have the horses to really score, and the Celtics have the 2 clear best offensive players in the series. I’d expect 2-3 close games and 2-3 where the Celtics pull away hard late.
 

lovegtm

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I'm not sure what this means, although I agree they aren't serious playoff offensive weapons. However, both VanVleet and Siakam are definitely serious playoff offensive weapons, far more than Bogdanovic last year.
All I meant is that PPG in the teens don’t tell you much about a guy’s ability to stress defenses.
 

128

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Raptors are being really coy about the severity of Lowry's sprain, no? There's nothing wrong with a little gamesmanship, but I'm guessing that if this were a Grade III sprain like Hayward's, they wouldn't try to keep that secret.
 

Euclis20

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Sure, but look at what the on-court matchups were if they had Lowry and if they don't. That's a huge loss.
All I meant is that PPG in the teens don’t tell you much about a guy’s ability to stress defenses.
Points well taken. I think my issue is that the inability of last year's Indy team to score without Oladipo is being underestimated here (as opposed to this year's Toronto team having good scorers without Lowry), but no argument from me on the above.

I will note that the Raptors still went 12-2 in games that Lowry missed (including 9-2 against eventual playoff teams), although nearly all of these were way November/December. The Raptors have been excellent all season long at covering when guys have missed time. Considering their success without Kawhi, succeeding without their best players may as well be the theme of the 2019-2020 Raptors.
 

lovegtm

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Points well taken. I think my issue is that the inability of last year's Indy team to score without Oladipo is being underestimated here (as opposed to this year's Toronto team having good scorers without Lowry), but no argument from me on the above.

I will note that the Raptors still went 12-2 in games that Lowry missed (including 9-2 against eventual playoff teams), although nearly all of these were way November/December. The Raptors have been excellent all season long at covering when guys have missed time. Considering their success without Kawhi, succeeding without their best players may as well be the theme of the 2019-2020 Raptors.
They compete and Nurse is a great coach. However, they were mediocre/poor against good teams this year per Cleaning the Glass iirc, which I think is indicative of what to expect in a playoff series sans Lowry.
 

Euclis20

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I don't have a subscription to Cleaning the Glass, but with Lowry out they beat the Jazz (+20), Magic (+16 and +7), Lakers (+9), Blazers (+8), Bucks (+8), Nuggets (+8) Sixers (+5) and Nets (+1) while only losing to the Clippers (-10) and Mavs (-8). Overall they were 21-14 against teams with winning records. Only the Bucks/Lakers/Clippers did better, and only barely (Celtics were 19-16).
 

Kliq

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Anyone just looking at the rosters and determining that the Celtics are clearly the better team because they have more top end talent have not been paying close attention to this season. The Raptors may not have a Top 15 player but are well-coached and very deep and they may not have a bunch of big name players, but do have people that will give the Celtics trouble. There is absolutely going to be a game where Norman Powell scores 25+ points and people in the gamethread are going to be asking who the hell this Norman guys is.

Without Lowry the Celtics are a clear favorite, if he does play it is a total tossup. The Celtics have more talent but the Raptors have more depth, and basically don't play anybody who can't defend or shoot from the outside, which is a huge reason why they have been so successful. Nobody who plays real minutes for Toronto shot less than 35% from three and their entire main rotation (Lowry, Siakam, Ibaka, Gasol, FVV, Powell and OG) are all good/great defenders. In addition, they are confident and have all played in big games and genuinely believe they can win the title and have the ring to prove it. Tread very carefully.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Celtics in 5 if no Lowry. There’s just not any offense left there. This would be like Pacers-Celtics 2019.
You are seriously underrating VanVleet who is just as important to the Raptors as Lowry. He’s been the best player on the floor for the Raptors in so many of these bubble games. Powell took over two of the Nets games as well. Granted, the Celtics closeouts will be tighter and the pace slower but you can’t scoff at someone coming off a 76% eFG series.
 
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128

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Time Lord took a huge step backward in the Philly series. Not sure the C's can beat Toronto without at least a modest contribution from him.
 

RorschachsMask

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I like time lord and his upside, but his lack of defensive awareness makes him basically unplayable against the Raps IMO. I hope I’m wrong and he looks good against them, but I can’t see it.

They move the ball a ton, and he is extremely prone to getting out of position and forcing other guys to rotate off their man to help him.
 

128

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Also, for all of his winning plays against Philly, Smart shot 33.3 percent from the field in the series, including 13.3 percent from 3-point range. That's not likely to be good enough against Toronto.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Time Lord took a huge step backward in the Philly series. Not sure the C's can beat Toronto without at least a modest contribution from him.
TL played 12 minutes in Game 1, was super hyped up and plus Embiid is a horrible match-up for him (still managed to have 6 rebounds). IIRC, his Game 2 minutes were limited to garbage time. He did not play in Game 3 and had a cameo appearance in Game 4.

I'm glad Brad played him some against Embiid because he'll need to figure out how to play post defense without fouling if he's going to be a rotation player but PHI was a bad matchup for him.

TL was much more effective against TOR in the 3 games he played against them (including the most recent blow-out). For example, he matches up really well against Ibaka on both sides of the floor. I suspect he'll play a decent number of minutes in this series and will contribute.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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Cross posting from the Hayward thread:


Agree with mauf 100%. The Celtics can still beat Toronto, but the depth is definitely an issue. I think Steven's will be able to mix and match better than most coaches would, but the truth is that he is going to have to give minutes to guys that shouldn't be playing in the NBA playoffs. Some teams don't have to do that.

Just to put some (albeit imperfect) regular season PER numbers to generally show what's going on.
Wanamaker 12.85
G Williams 7.91
Ojeleye 7.71
Langford 5.38

The rest of the rotation guys are all higher than that, some much higher of course. Every team has a declining slope as you get deeper and deeper into the bench. But there really is a HUGE cliff after Wanamaker, more severe than most teams have within the rotation. These guys are either developmental projects or scrubs at this point. You can mix and match all you want, but in the end they are just not good right now.

The major issues will come up with any foul trouble or god forbid another injury. At this point, I think the firepower is still there to win the series.
And just for comparison, the lowest regular season PER of any of the Toronto players getting legit minutes in the playoffs is Marc Gasol at 11.78
This sort of analysis is tough because on its surface, a stat like PER or even PIPM doesn't capture things like match-up efficiency etc nor do any of this seasons stats account for the fact that guys like Van Vleet or Brown and many other younger players appear to have improved their play since the season stopped.

That said, your observation about the relative weakness of the Celtics bench feels spot on. For example, using PIPM (again, I am sorry, LondonSox), the Celtics have four players who are as bad or significantly worse than the Raptors second lowest ranked player, Matt Thomas -Langford, Wanamaker, Semi and Edwards. The last two are particularly odious using that metric but as you point out, Stevens appears to be effective at optimizing Ojeleye's usage in ways that likely aren't being accurately captured in the available data.

The mitigating factor for Boston here is that, by the numbers, they have better top end talent and more of it.
 

JCizzle

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Apparently there is talk of a boycott of playing on Thursday as stated by Marcus Smart.

View: https://twitter.com/JaredWeissNBA/status/1298333097835089927
It has also been discussed by Raptors players. I imagine it would be a joint decision between the two teams.

View: https://twitter.com/Kayla_Grey/status/1298317319152775168?s=20

Norm Powell and Fred VanVleet have both said that there have been conversations about boycotting. There is frustration that messages aren't getting across.
 

OurF'ingCity

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Calling it a "boycott" obscures what this would really be, which is a mini-wildcat strike (a strike not authorized by the CBA or the union).

Usually strikes are framed as "we will not perform our jobs until [X]." I'm unclear what the "X" would be in this situation or how a strike would achieve it.
 

djbayko

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I don't mean to be indelicate, but did the NBA really think that wearing jerseys with messages was going to end police brutality against minorities? Or that boycotting the games will now do that?

Or maybe I'm just not sure what "messages aren't getting across" means to them.
I also don't mean to be indelicate, but with Lowry day to day, can they perhaps look towards starting the boycott on Friday or perhaps next Tuesday?

Just kidding. I doubt they believed that they were going to end police brutality on their own. I personally read that as just meaning the Blake case has given some players the inspiration to do something more.
 

NomarsFool

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What exactly would be the objective? It draws attention to the issue, certainly, but there is already a lot of attention on the issue. Boycotts/strikes are most effective when you are able to hold out until some specific action is taken. I'm assuming they would plan to play again on Saturday, so what would really be achieved?
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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What exactly would be the objective? It draws attention to the issue, certainly, but there is already a lot of attention on the issue. Boycotts/strikes are most effective when you are able to hold out until some specific action is taken. I'm assuming they would plan to play again on Saturday, so what would really be achieved?
This isn't directed at you but imo, this is time for people outside of groups who are affected to listen and support. If they want to boycott the game, so be it - even if there is no immediate impact from doing so. This is entirely their decision and the league will likely support them. NBA fans should lend support as well.
 

djbayko

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What exactly would be the objective? It draws attention to the issue, certainly, but there is already a lot of attention on the issue. Boycotts/strikes are most effective when you are able to hold out until some specific action is taken. I'm assuming they would plan to play again on Saturday, so what would really be achieved?
If nothing else, it draws attention to the issue. Back in March, the NBA woke up America by postponing their season due to COVID-19. America doesn't exactly need that same awakening here, but people take notice when one of the major leagues takes action like this.
 
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DannyDarwinism

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OurF'ingCity

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This isn't directed at you but imo, this is time for people outside of groups who are affected to listen and support. If they want to boycott the game, so be it - even if there is no immediate impact from doing so. This is entirely their decision and the league will likely support them. NBA fans should lend support as well.
Right, so ultimately this wouldn't be a "boycott" at all but rather a player-driven joint decision to postpone one or more games. Which I have no issue with, but the "boycott" language is inaccurate in that respect and makes it seem like the league is forcing the games to go forward and the players are refusing to participate.
 

TripleOT

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Unfortunately, there is little athletes or owner can do to fix the problem. Police in the US are taught to shoot to kill. Guns seem to come out more often for unarmed Black people they’re encountering. In many municipalities, police are poorly trained and poorly paid.

When I read the Ferguson Report, I was so angry that some townships look at residents as people they can milk fines out of so they can be paid every week.

In cities with well paid, professional police forces, police unions hold incredible power. I’m not hopeful that we will see serious reform.
 

radsoxfan

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Cross posting from the Hayward thread:




This sort of analysis is tough because on its surface, a stat like PER or even PIPM doesn't capture things like match-up efficiency etc nor do any of this seasons stats account for the fact that guys like Van Vleet or Brown and many other younger players appear to have improved their play since the season stopped.

That said, your observation about the relative weakness of the Celtics bench feels spot on. For example, using PIPM (again, I am sorry, LondonSox), the Celtics have four players who are as bad or significantly worse than the Raptors second lowest ranked player, Matt Thomas -Langford, Wanamaker, Semi and Edwards. The last two are particularly odious using that metric but as you point out, Stevens appears to be effective at optimizing Ojeleye's usage in ways that likely aren't being accurately captured in the available data.

The mitigating factor for Boston here is that, by the numbers, they have better top end talent and more of it.

Sounds like we agree. PER is definitely a blunt tool, and isn't going to fully capture the specifics of a 3 minute stint for player X in matchup Y.

But generally speaking PER captures that our fringe rotation guys are just not good, and it's unlikely Stevens can entirely match-up his way out of it. In the end it's basketball, so much is ad libbed in the moment, and better players are just better at it.

No more injuries and no major foul trouble is probably more important than anything Stevens can do. Hopefully those guys are only needed for short stints, and their current suckitude can be minimized as much as possible.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Two decent articles from CelticsBlog previewing what to expect tactically from this series.

First, TOR is built to run. They were second out in the league in getting offense out of transition and they are 16th in the league in halfcourt efficiency. If the Cs can slow TOR's transition game - particularly 3s out of transition - that will go a long way of tilting the series in the Cs favor, and if there is any team that should be able to be successful at it, the Cs should be at the top of that list.

Second, TOR's offense is a bit different than most teams as they rely on drive/kick/kick. As I understand it, TOR runs fewer set plays and relies more someone beating a guy off the dribble, forcing a defense to collapse and then moving the ball to find an open 3 or driving lane. Assuming this holds true in the series, it will be incumbent on the Cs bench - such as Semi, BW, RL, GW, and even TL - to stay in front of their man as much as possible and then be on point on rotations when they get beat.

One thing you can say about the Cs bench is that while none of them have shown offensive talent, they all have good to great feet. We've talked about Semi's feet before but GW also is incredibly good at staying in front of most smaller players for a guy his size. And while Romeo hasn't shown much on offense, his defense has been superb. Before the restart, a guy did a deep dive (with clips) into Romeo's defense here in this Medium article (I just found this article), and it mentioned that Romeo is in the 92nd percentile when defending jump shots (SSS though).

It also quotes Jared Weiss as saying that some people in the Cs organization think that Romeo is the best on-ball defender the Cs have right now, which is saying a lot given that they have both Smart and Waters.
 

PedroKsBambino

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This isn't directed at you but imo, this is time for people outside of groups who are affected to listen and support. If they want to boycott the game, so be it - even if there is no immediate impact from doing so. This is entirely their decision and the league will likely support them. NBA fans should lend support as well.
I agree--I don't think NBA is going to pick a fight with them by acting as if it is a wildcat strike. If they did so (and morons like Goodell and quite possibly Manfred might in fact do so) I expect they would be rewarded with Lebron and Chris Paul announcing that the entire NBAPA was now joining the strike within hours.

There will be a bunch of media coverage if they "boycott" a game. it will push the NBA schedule back a couple days. The fact that it is the one series that can be pushed back without impacting the overall NBA schedule likely reflects some conscious thinking from NBAPA and I'd guess league.