Celtics vs Hawks, Round 1 Discussion

benhogan

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Before accusing me of addressing a fake hypothetical, maybe read the language I bolded in the post I was responding to and quoted. That poster explicitly declared that we have “two better point guards” than Smart.

Based on the substance of your post, I think we agree. White should play a bit more, although he’s already playing the most among our pg at 33 mpg. The thing is, those minutes should come from Brogdon (or Hauser and the rest of the bench), not Smart.
That's fair.

A lot of this is situation, opponent, and matchups. Smart is a much better defender than Malcolm but isn't his best against small, quick guards like Young. Malcolm is a better rebounder than MS and I can see why people may want a combo of Brogdon + White with Derrick guarding Trae.
 

HomeRunBaker

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What I'm saying is, at this moment I feel more comfortable with White and Brogdon on the floor than Smart. Maybe the numbers don't support that, but I'm pretty annoyed with Smart over the last few games.
Mentioned this in the other thread but Atlanta is probably the worst matchup of all playoff teams for Smart who struggles on both ends against quick smaller guards.
 

benhogan

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Mentioned this in the other thread but Atlanta is probably the worst matchup of all playoff teams for Smart who struggles on both ends against quick smaller guards.
That really nails it. The same goes for Grant and why Joe hasn't used him much at all.

On one side of the ball, Trae is daring Marcus to shoot open 3s or take it to the rim (which he should do every time)
On the other side, Smart can't get physical with Trae on the perimeter since breathing on him leads to exaggerated head snaps and crumbling to the ground.
 

Jimbodandy

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That really nails it. The same goes for Grant and why Joe hasn't used him much at all.

On one side of the ball, Trae is daring Marcus to shoot open 3s or take it to the rim (which he should do every time)
On the other side, Smart can't get physical with Trae on the perimeter since breathing on him leads to exaggerated head snaps and crumbling to the ground.
Yeah but if Marcus gets into foul trouble covering Trae like that, then we get more White/Brogdon.

64082
 

Euclis20

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Man it really didn't look like they could stop Trae Young at all, until he just completely shut down. 1-13 in the 2nd half for just 5 points, and his only highlight was repeatedly throwing the ball off of Marcus Smart on the inbound attempt.
 

PedroKsBambino

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Survive and Advance.

A bit tougher series than it needed to be, but good fight tonight in second half in what was a very lose-able game. Great fourth quarter and especially great last three minutes to advance.

On to the series we expected all along once the playoff seedings were known...
 

timelysarcasm

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I thought Grant held his own tonight and really should have played more than 36 minutes in the entire series.
Honestly, this is a huge footnote from that game. We're going to need Grant to get to the promised land, especially with needing to spell Horford/TL a bit more.

He looked good out there (we'll overlook the botched drive) and with some rhythm he's another chess piece.
 

riboflav

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If not that then his baffling time out usage or his insistence to play smart over two better point guards? I’d argue playing smart over two cerebral point guards cost us a game 5 for sure. Smart was out there turning balls over, committing fouls, etc… He doesn’t change what he does dispute outside noise calling for him to operate differently. That’s arrogance. That’s not always a bad thing in a coach or player. Belichick has that, MJ had that, etc… but considering the biggest problem with this team is their complacency, thinking they can get W’s without working for it, I’d say it’s worth discussing. If you disagree that Joe is part of the problem then ok. He’s 34 years old and inexperienced. I don’t think he’s a bad coach, and he’s not responsible for Tatum forgetting how to play basketball yesterday, but this isn’t Pop here, the guy has a lot to prove still before he’s suddenly above criticism (for me anyway).
Good Lord this did not turn out well for you. His confidence and then his alternative use of Smart (at the FT line) in the final minute tonight was a major factor in closing out the series on the road.
 

Humphrey

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Good Lord this did not turn out well for you. His confidence and then his alternative use of Smart (at the FT line) in the final minute tonight was a major factor in closing out the series on the road.
At around the 5 minute mark, Smart turned the ball over and clanked two three balls off the rim and JM yanked him. He was out less than a minute, but when he came back he closed the game out strongly.
 

brendan f

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Tatum's follow slam with a little over 2 minutes left was pretty remarkable. It looked live like he had come out of nowhere and in the replay he's almost out of the picture.
 

Kliq

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The Hawks ended up being a lot better than people thought. It's clear that Snyder has got something working to make them a more resilient, stable team. Unlike a lot of lower seeded teams, Atlanta did seem to have a pretty decent rotation of legitimate guys. Capela and Okongwu are good, interchangeable bigs with high motors and are good lob threats working with Young. Collins played much better in the second half of the series than he started, but is still a question mark going forward and will probably be on the trade block again this summer. Hunter is a good three and D guy. Jalen Johnson is an interesting younger player. Bey was a nice addition and had some good moments. Bogdanovic is a good secondary playmaker and offensive hub off the bench.

I don't think Dejounte is a great fit next to Young; he's really not a primary creator and isn't that good off-ball. Trae isn't good off-ball either, but he's a far better first option as a scorer and playmaker. I'd be really interested in seeing this team with a second player that is a better fit next to Young, and Murray is an expiring contract next year.

Trae is a fascinating player. The discussion a week ago was that Atlanta was stuck with him, they can't win with him as their best player and the trade market would be cool on him given his contract and his weaknesses force a roster to be constructed a certain way around him. Flash forward this week and while all the warts are still there; it's also kind of been hammered home how tremendous of an offensive player he can be, and how he can put pressure on a defense in a variety of different ways, with his shooting range, ability to finish in traffic, creativity as a passer and his ability to get to the free throw line. The front office in Atlanta is a mess, so it will be interesting to keep an eye on what they do with the team going forward.
 

Justthetippett

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The Hawks ended up being a lot better than people thought. It's clear that Snyder has got something working to make them a more resilient, stable team. Unlike a lot of lower seeded teams, Atlanta did seem to have a pretty decent rotation of legitimate guys. Capela and Okongwu are good, interchangeable bigs with high motors and are good lob threats working with Young. Collins played much better in the second half of the series than he started, but is still a question mark going forward and will probably be on the trade block again this summer. Hunter is a good three and D guy. Jalen Johnson is an interesting younger player. Bey was a nice addition and had some good moments. Bogdanovic is a good secondary playmaker and offensive hub off the bench.

I don't think Dejounte is a great fit next to Young; he's really not a primary creator and isn't that good off-ball. Trae isn't good off-ball either, but he's a far better first option as a scorer and playmaker. I'd be really interested in seeing this team with a second player that is a better fit next to Young, and Murray is an expiring contract next year.

Trae is a fascinating player. The discussion a week ago was that Atlanta was stuck with him, they can't win with him as their best player and the trade market would be cool on him given his contract and his weaknesses force a roster to be constructed a certain way around him. Flash forward this week and while all the warts are still there; it's also kind of been hammered home how tremendous of an offensive player he can be, and how he can put pressure on a defense in a variety of different ways, with his shooting range, ability to finish in traffic, creativity as a passer and his ability to get to the free throw line. The front office in Atlanta is a mess, so it will be interesting to keep an eye on what they do with the team going forward.
I was impressed with Young as the series went along. He competed and he's very skilled. Their offense was pretty bad unless it ran through him. Add he was getting just about any shot he wanted in those high pick and rolls. As you say, what he's missing is the elite catch and shoot game off the ball. He needs a running mate that will either pull that out of him, or who will fill that role himself. I agree it's not Murray. I'd shop him around to see what teams would offer and try to retool that way.
 

HomeRunBaker

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At around the 5 minute mark, Smart turned the ball over and clanked two three balls off the rim and JM yanked him. He was out less than a minute, but when he came back he closed the game out strongly.
Mazz pulled all the right strings tonight but I still hated that challenge with 6 min to go on a coin flip out of bounds call.
 

OnTheBlack

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Good Lord this did not turn out well for you. His confidence and then his alternative use of Smart (at the FT line) in the final minute tonight was a major factor in closing out the series on the road.
My point still stands with the flaws of this team. This was a 2 minute spurt from a game 7. The C’s biggest threat is their own overconfidence, and not taking their opponent or the moment seriously. They make their road harder for themselves. I’m very happy for the win and think this series was a good wake up call that they can’t coast to a title. They need to bring it every minute from now on. If they do, they should win it all. And yes I continue to think that if you are protecting a lead the offense should run through White and Brogdon over smart. They are better caretakers of the ball, and the offense doesn’t clog.
 

nighthob

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The real lesson here is that the Hawks are a lot better than people want to give them credit for and the Trae Young talk here last week was pretty crazypants. I'm pretty sure that Sean Marks would sell his firstborn kid to add Young to his collection of 3&D guys.
 

OnTheBlack

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Mazz pulled all the right strings tonight but I still hated that challenge with 6 min to go on a coin flip out of bounds call.
I liked seeing grant out there. He’s a useful piece. His feet looked quick on D. If he can stay in front of guys he’s really a very good player with his 3 pt shot.
 

teddykgb

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When Trae went to the bench briefly they scored a few baskets where the ball rolled in but looked completely smothered offensively. As frustrating as that series was I think my takeaways are that Trae is far more difficult for even good defenders to contain and I’m now on the lookout to be cared of other teams with quick scoring PGs because between Trae and Curry last year it seems more clear to me that our very good defense might be vulnerable to that style of player.

It’s connected to the above but the Hawks really made Horford and TL uncomfortable putting them in p+r. We probably see less of it against Philly because they will want to feed Embiid and his fake gettting fouled routine but it might be something to look at in the ECF or Finals if we can make it that far
 

Jakarta

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The Hawks ended up being a lot better than people thought. It's clear that Snyder has got something working to make them a more resilient, stable team. Unlike a lot of lower seeded teams, Atlanta did seem to have a pretty decent rotation of legitimate guys. Capela and Okongwu are good, interchangeable bigs with high motors and are good lob threats working with Young. Collins played much better in the second half of the series than he started, but is still a question mark going forward and will probably be on the trade block again this summer. Hunter is a good three and D guy. Jalen Johnson is an interesting younger player. Bey was a nice addition and had some good moments. Bogdanovic is a good secondary playmaker and offensive hub off the bench.

I don't think Dejounte is a great fit next to Young; he's really not a primary creator and isn't that good off-ball. Trae isn't good off-ball either, but he's a far better first option as a scorer and playmaker. I'd be really interested in seeing this team with a second player that is a better fit next to Young, and Murray is an expiring contract next year.

Trae is a fascinating player. The discussion a week ago was that Atlanta was stuck with him, they can't win with him as their best player and the trade market would be cool on him given his contract and his weaknesses force a roster to be constructed a certain way around him. Flash forward this week and while all the warts are still there; it's also kind of been hammered home how tremendous of an offensive player he can be, and how he can put pressure on a defense in a variety of different ways, with his shooting range, ability to finish in traffic, creativity as a passer and his ability to get to the free throw line. The front office in Atlanta is a mess, so it will be interesting to keep an eye on what they do with the team going forward.
They invested so much in the Murray trade that I don’t think they can get enough back to make trading him appear to be a “win”.

I wonder if having Trae be off-ball more would be helpful to both Trae and Murray. A modern day Iverson/Eric Snow backcourt. Trae should have tremendous gravity off ball, Curry-lite, which would make Murray a more effective driver and scorer, and maybe would also help Collins improve.

It’s a bit like the Celtics end of game offense problem. Have the guy you want to have the ball (Tatum or Trae) start off-ball, catch it on the move and then make a play, rather than dribble 20 times while 9 guys stare at you.
 

The Mort Report

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Honestly, I'm glad they got this kind of series and not a cake walk. Yes, the Hawks had a lesser roster, but they are young, athletic and hungry, the kind of recipe to steal a game or two in the playoffs against a superior opponent, but not sustained success. I'd rather have the team deal with adversity now when they can build off it instead of a situation they may not have the time to. Let's say they get by PHI, I'm honestly more scared of playing the NYK or MIA than PHI because they pose the "chaos" threat you can't really game plan for
 

m0ckduck

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At around the 5 minute mark, Smart turned the ball over and clanked two three balls off the rim and JM yanked him. He was out less than a minute, but when he came back he closed the game out strongly.
Smart's guy was coming off him to double Tatum. Before he got yanked, Marcus was standing on the perimeter, getting the ball there and launching 3s. Coach clearly told him to cut instead— in the final minutes, he was routinely getting into the paint and either dealing to Horford or finishing at the rim.
 

lovegtm

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Smart's guy was coming off him to double Tatum. Before he got yanked, Marcus was standing on the perimeter, getting the ball there and launching 3s. Coach clearly told him to cut instead— in the final minutes, he was routinely getting into the paint and either dealing to Horford or finishing at the rim.
Between that and going to Grant, I think JM quieted some of the (over-stated) talk about how overmatched he is as a coach. I thought game 5 was more on Tatum and Smart, and overall in the series Joe did a good job experimenting on the fly and coming up with answers.

The Hawks were tougher than expected, because they have talent. Quin got them to play with confidence, and guys like Collins and Hunter really got into it as the series went on.

I feel better now going into the Philly series, because the Cs have felt what tough 4th quarters are like at playoff speed, on both ends. Obviously would have been good to play a more injured Embiid, but bring it on.
 

m0ckduck

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I feel better now going into the Philly series, because the Cs have felt what tough 4th quarters are like at playoff speed, on both ends. Obviously would have been good to play a more injured Embiid, but bring it on.
It's ironic that the C's needing a strong closeout performance against a competitive Hawks team allows us to feel better about the team going forward than if the Hawks team from games 1-2 had shown up and lost by 30. I think with a blowout win last night, everyone would feel concerned that we'd let a vastly inferior team hang around and make it a six game series. Instead, there's been a general reappraisal of the Hawks talent level based on the consistent effort we saw from them the last 4 games.
 

lovegtm

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It's ironic that the C's needing a strong closeout performance against a competitive Hawks team allows us to feel better about the team going forward than if the Hawks team from games 1-2 had shown up and lost by 30. I think with a blowout win last night, everyone would feel concerned that we'd let a vastly inferior team hang around and make it a six game series. Instead, there's been a general reappraisal of the Hawks talent level based on the consistent effort we saw from them the last 4 games.
The other thing that makes me feel better is that the Hawks were really hitting shots. It's important for talented teams to be able to find ways to win when your opponent has energy and shot-making going for them.
 

TripleOT

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The Hawks had two Timelord type athletic centers who could rim run and rim defend, four wings with good size and strength, and three guards who could fill it up, including one who could go supernova at any time. That’s a good rotation to matchup with the Celtics. In a way, they were a chronically homeless version of the Warriors team that ousted the Celtics last year, where Looney and Dray held down the paint, their tall wings where able to contest the Jays, and their three guards filled it up, with supernova Curry as the closer in the series.

It was a good test and a wake up call for the Celtics.
 

lovegtm

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It also just feels good (emotionally and going forward) to win a series because your players and coach adjusted and rose to the occasion, and not because John Collins kept bricking open 3s.
 

benhogan

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Mazz pulled all the right strings tonight but I still hated that challenge with 6 min to go on a coin flip out of bounds call.
does he have an asst coach with a laptop giving him a heads up or did he just spin the finger on his own? Wasn't paying attention during that break
 

Eddie Jurak

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It's great to be out of this series, but the fact remains the Celtics have a lot of issues to work out if they hope to reach and compete in the later rounds.

The first 3 quarters of the game it was obvious that Atlanta had no fear of the Celtics - their mindset was "play out game and we'll win." Going into the 4th I expected that they would, against a Celtics team that seemed more focused on "omg how are we fucking this up" than on playing basketball.

I think that what changed in the 4th qurter is that someone stepped up and said "Follow me, guys!" and the guys did. And that someone was Al Horford. Horford is a year older than last year and I think not able to play minute for minute at the same level as last year, but he came in with 8:45 left in a tie game and turned the whole thing around. Not him alone, but him setting the tone and the Jays following.

Horford comes in at 8:45 in a 106-106 game, gets a defensive rebound, then an offensive rebound/putback. Atlanta hits a three for a one point lead, and Boston misses, but Horford comes up with a steal of a Trae Young pass. Boston's doesn't score on the ensuing possession, but Horford blocks Young and comes up with the rebound, and Brown scores to put the Celtics up 1 point. That's 1:15 seconds of game play and Al had 3 rebounds (1 OR), a putback, a steal and a block.

Later, scored tied at 113, Horford comes up with a defensive rebounds and then Smart feeds him for a 3 in the corner, 116-1119-113)3. After a Tatum 3 with 2:44 to go (1, Jaylen Brown comes out of nowhere for a spectacular block on Murray, and Horford misses a 3 point attempt... but Tatum flies in out of nowhere for the putback. 121-113. This looks insurmountable, but after Murray and Smart exchange threes, Hunter hits a three and Smart a 2, 126-119, 1:07 left.

Unfortnately, this is where Mazzulla and Marcus Smart tried one more time to give the game away and came close. With the Celtics in possession, Smart tried to get bounce pass past his defender and it was stolen, leading to a transition 3 attempt by Bogdanovic, who was fouled by Horford. 3 shots, Celtics up 126-119, with 24 seconds left and 2 timeouts. Bogdanovic misses the first attempt, after which point there is no mystery to anyone but Joe Mazzulla what will happen next: whatever happens on the second shot, Bogdanovic will miss the third on purpose and the excellent offensive rebounding Hawks will try to recover it. Rob Williams had not been on the floor, and for some reason Mazzulla decides that in this situation where one rebound wins the game he is not going to put him in. Sure enough, Atlanta misses the shot, crashes the boards, and gets a new possession down only 6.

The Celtics played great defense on the ensuing possession, defensing 4 straight inbounds plays without giving the Hawks anything. I've never seen this before, but three times Altanta - who did not want to burn a time out - had their inbounder hold for nearly 5 seconds and then throw the ball off a Celtic and out of bounds. On the 4th time, they threw it out of bounds without touching a Celtic.

Al Horford's 4th quarter line was 5 points, 7 rebounds, a steal and a block, and it was his play that set the tone - a tone that had been missing for large stretches of this series - down the stretch. His overall stats aren't as impressive as others (10 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks) but for me the game ball goes to him.

Also worth noting: Grant Williams played 17 minutes in this one and mostly held his own. The burying of Grant in this series - not to a reduced role but to no role at all - never made sense to me. He did his job, including 7 minutes of +6 play in the 4th.

The Jays were both great, but Al is obviously still the guy everyone follows, even at 37. I think there were efforts by Al to sort of pass the torch this year, but no one stepped into the void, so it has to be him.
 

lovegtm

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Marcus was really really good in the 2nd half, with the exception of that turnover at the end, with the team up 7. He shut off Trae Young's water completely down the stretch.

You seem to have this bizarre expectation that players will make every play all game, and that failure to do so is damning.
 

Bunt4aTriple

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You seem to have this bizarre expectation that players will make every play all game, and that failure to do so is damning.
This isn't fair. The expectation is only for Celtics players.

Seriously, it was such an even match up until the last few minutes, but it didn't feel that way in the moment. But after further reflection, I don’t think there’s anything to complain about. They played their asses off and I’m really looking forward to this next round.
 

lovegtm

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This isn't fair. The expectation is only for Celtics players.

Seriously, it was such an even match up until the last few minutes, but it didn't feel that way in the moment. But after further reflection, I don’t think there’s anything to complain about. They played their asses off and I’m really looking forward to this next round.
I'm not in a timezone to watch games live, and last year I was so nervous that I checked the score each morning before watching the previous night's replay.

This year, I'm just enjoying the heck out of it, regardless of results. It's been fun basketball, and I'm excited for the intensity of an Embiid series.
 

Eddie Jurak

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Marcus was really really good in the 2nd half, with the exception of that turnover at the end, with the team up 7. He shut off Trae Young's water completely down the stretch.
I agree with this. Marcus on his game is an expert at using the fact that teams play him to pass to get to the rim. His last layup was a brilliant example of that.
 

BaseballJones

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The Hawks were 5th worst in the NBA in points allowed, letting opponents score 118.1 points a game. That's going to be a problem for them.

When Atlanta has the ball:
Atlanta offense: 118.4 points scored
Boston defense: 111.4 points allowed
AVERAGE: 114.9 points expected

When Boston has the ball:
Atlanta defense: 118.1 points allowed
Boston offense: 117.9 points scored
AVERAGE: 118.0 points expected

I'm making up this "formula" and I don't expect it to look quite like this, but the fact is, Boston's offense is great and Atlanta's defense is terrible. Meanwhile, while Atlanta's offense is great, Boston's defense is also great.
Here's how it ended up....

Atlanta: 115.8 points per game (0.9 above projected)
Boston: 121.2 points per game (3.2 above projected)

Pretty close.
 

Imbricus

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This series reinforced for me the offseason need to get a springy, durable big who's a solid rebounder and above-average defender (I'm not worried about whether he's got a three-point shot, as that'll just drive up the price and we've got enough floor spacers). Al can turn it on in spurts, but he's definitely getting older, and Time Lord's best days may sadly be behind him.

When we trade Pritchard to Atlanta, what would we have to throw in to get Okongwu? Or does Atlanta just hang up on us?
 

lovegtm

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This series reinforced for me the offseason need to get a springy, durable big who's a solid rebounder and above-average defender (I'm not worried about whether he's got a three-point shot, as that'll just drive up the price and we've got enough floor spacers). Al can turn it on in spurts, but he's definitely getting older, and Time Lord's best days may sadly be behind him.

When we trade Pritchard to Atlanta, what would we have to throw in to get Okongwu? Or does Atlanta just hang up on us?
I'm trying to find words to describe how fast that hang-up would happen.
 

CreightonGubanich

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I thought it was interesting that after the game, Mazzulla placed the blame on himself for the slow pace down the stretch in game 5, saying it was his playcalling that slowed the game down. They made the decision to play with more pace and more freedom last night, and the execution was much better for it. The Celtics are not really built to attack a set defense with choreographed sets, especially when teams are trapping Tatum. I thought it was a nice example of a young coach learning and adjusting on the fly.
 

Devizier

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Time Lord's best days may sadly be behind him.
Setting aside the trade suggestion, I thought Williams looked pretty good this series overall. But it’s clear he’s never going to be a full timer so more depth is a good idea. I think the Celtics either get lucky in the draft or fill that role with an old guy/ring chaser because young, spongy bigs are going to be steered away from bench roles when they can play/get paid far more on a shallower team.
 

PedroKsBambino

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“How about if we give you our mid-2nd rounder in 2025 instead, Brad?”
I agree that's the profile Celtics want, and think they know it (Kabengele is an attempt at it; Theis sort of fits it as well). They are either going to have to get lucky or good in targeting someone who hasn't popped yet to get it, as it's a desireable profile and they don't have a lot of assets. Okongwu has shown too much, as has sometimes-mentioned Wendell Carter. I was big on Zach Collins (different but related profile) and that ship has now also sailed. Or, possibly, an older player who slips through cracks FA-wise....Gorgui Deng types.

The right asset profile (not player profile) is like Xavier Tillman/Santi Aldama (plays, but not core piece and contract stuff may make them acquirable). I just think they have to keep looking. Chuma Okeke? Chris Boucher might fit and be available, but too expensive. Christian Koloko (may not be any good)

The one thing I've wondered a bit about is whether there's a Grant-related trade to fill this gap. I don't think so, and haven't fired trade machine up, but he's the asset who might get that level of value back...I agree with others PP isn't enough (unless you target the right development project)
 
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jezza1918

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I know I'm oversimplifying things a bit here but from a high level perspective didn't this series go almost* exactly how it should've? Celts win first two games at home in pretty comfortable fashion --> Atlanta responds with a win at home avoiding the sweep --> Celts win a relatively close game on the road in which they took a lead 4 minutes in that they never relinquished --> Celts in comfortable fashion in game 5...*here's the almost part. They crapped all over themselves in many ways over a 5 minute span to force a game 6 --> which they won on the road with the exact opposite finish of game 5.
The obvious failed offensive execution at the end of game 5 is glaring, but games 4 & 6 were terrific. And both on the road. It will likely get lost if they make a long run this spring, but game 4 was another opportunity to turtle and they played great down the stretch: Hawks cut lead to 5 at 103-98 with 8:30 to go...and over the next 8 minutes celts outscore them 22-15 to put the game away before a few garbage time 3s by the Hawks made final score look a bit closer. As frustrating as it was to have to play game 6, the silver lining is hopefully the closing stretch will provide them some more closing confidence heading into the next round.
All that gooey positive-ness aside, I really need more Derrick White 4th quarter time in my life going forward...