Round 3: Celtics vs Pacers

Auger34

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Dave DuFour: "We've seen this with the Celtics, where it gets close and late scenarios, and they just stop doing the things that made them successful to beat ya. Boston couldn't handle prosperity at any of nine points in the game, throwing the ball all over the gym like the prime Warriors but just not as good as the prime Warriors, so the Pacers were allowed to come back... I'm thoroughly annoyed by that game."

Mo Dakhil: Boston does what Boston does. They show us where they're really good, and they show us why none of us actually believe them. In the same game, they do the thing where they start out the game, 12-0 run, look amazing, they're out-pacing the Pacers, flying up the court, doing all these great things. And then the last 5 minutes of the first half? Shitty offense. And it's frustrating because, they have SO much talent. And so I'm gonna dump on the team that won, and look like the asshole. But you're frustrated with it."


Zero credit to Brown's amazing play to get a turnover on the inbound with 8.5" left, which was the first of two absolute miracles we needed, or for his subsequent catch-and-shoot, for which we need a stronger word than "clutch". Zero credit to Jrue forcing a mistake on Haliburton. No, no, it's gotta be the Pacers' fault! Who do I blame for allowing this calamity to happen?!
I get what they're saying but that is really annoying to read.

I mean....they won the game. Not only did they win the game but they completely snatched it from the jaws of defeat, in a way that could really kill the Pacers confidence. It's the Eastern Conference Finals.

How about a little bit of credit for getting the job done. This late in the season, there are no style points. A W is a W
 

Toe Nash

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Exactly, and it was hailed as one of the most incredible shooting performances in the history of basketball. To nearly equal it (for a half) in the next game against a better defensive team should not have been possible. And yet, it happened. That becomes the fight then - how does one defend against something that shouldn't work, and should be allowed to happen by the defense, because it's unlikely to work.
You just keep doing the same thing because it will stop working. If they have figured out a way that no other team has to hit 70% of midrange jumpers for an extended period without a team of Michael Jordans, they will win the whole thing. But I would bet against it continuing.
 

benhogan

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I keep harping on this, but people prefer macro adjustments (lineup change! no drop!) to more micro ones because the latter are opaque to them, even though they're far more impactful generally.
They can't make macro changes now, "going small", since it wasn't used during the season. I'm not suggesting they make a wholesale rotation change.

They'll make a micro-adjustment like they did in the two previous series of putting Tatum on Turner (BIG) + Horford on the worst shooter.

This roster has 6 all-star or former all-star caliber players, 2 of them are bigs. The 7th man is an undersized point, the 8th man is another big, the 9th man is a wing....
Sam Hauser has varied between 7th & 8th man all season due to matchups.

Luke is getting minutes now entirely due to KPs injury. He has pretty firmly been the 9th man/3rd string Center with help from Queta/Tillman.
 

lovegtm

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National narrative: "the Pacers choked this game away!"

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzAb6OL1Uss


Or:
The Athletic podcast

Dave DuFour: "We've seen this with the Celtics, where it gets close and late scenarios, and they just stop doing the things that made them successful to beat ya. Boston couldn't handle prosperity at any of nine points in the game, throwing the ball all over the gym like the prime Warriors but just not as good as the prime Warriors, so the Pacers were allowed to come back... I'm thoroughly annoyed by that game."

Mo Dakhil: Boston does what Boston does. They show us where they're really good, and they show us why none of us actually believe them. In the same game, they do the thing where they start out the game, 12-0 run, look amazing, they're out-pacing the Pacers, flying up the court, doing all these great things. And then the last 5 minutes of the first half? Shitty offense. And it's frustrating because, they have SO much talent. And so I'm gonna dump on the team that won, and look like the asshole. But you're frustrated with it."


Zero credit to Brown's amazing play to get a turnover on the inbound with 8.5" left, which was the first of two absolute miracles we needed, or for his subsequent catch-and-shoot, for which we need a stronger word than "clutch". Zero credit to Jrue forcing a mistake on Haliburton. No, no, it's gotta be the Pacers' fault! Who do I blame for allowing this calamity to happen?!
At this point, I'm like JB: just lean into being the villain.

They hate us. Nothing will ever be enough.

Fuck it, let's go.
 

Smokey Joe

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Why in the world would you leave that game? Trying to beat traffic? That's ridiculous
How were they identified as “Celtic fans who left early”? Couldn't they just be Celtic fans? i don’t see anyone clutching ticket stubs.
 

Euclis20

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National narrative: "the Pacers choked this game away!"

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzAb6OL1Uss


Or:
The Athletic podcast

Dave DuFour: "We've seen this with the Celtics, where it gets close and late scenarios, and they just stop doing the things that made them successful to beat ya. Boston couldn't handle prosperity at any of nine points in the game, throwing the ball all over the gym like the prime Warriors but just not as good as the prime Warriors, so the Pacers were allowed to come back... I'm thoroughly annoyed by that game."

Mo Dakhil: Boston does what Boston does. They show us where they're really good, and they show us why none of us actually believe them. In the same game, they do the thing where they start out the game, 12-0 run, look amazing, they're out-pacing the Pacers, flying up the court, doing all these great things. And then the last 5 minutes of the first half? Shitty offense. And it's frustrating because, they have SO much talent. And so I'm gonna dump on the team that won, and look like the asshole. But you're frustrated with it."


Zero credit to Brown's amazing play to get a turnover on the inbound with 8.5" left, which was the first of two absolute miracles we needed, or for his subsequent catch-and-shoot, for which we need a stronger word than "clutch". Zero credit to Jrue forcing a mistake on Haliburton. No, no, it's gotta be the Pacers' fault! Who do I blame for allowing this calamity to happen?!
I get why it's frustrating to not see/hear Boston get any credit for taking advantage of the opportunity, but the Pacers DID choke this game away. Haliburton had a couple of real boneheaded plays, Carlisle didn't cover himself in glory in the final minute, and Indy snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I'm a big believer in the idea that most games are equal parts won and lost, but it's ok that sometimes the story will tilt one way or the other

The media coverage has been brutal for Boston all spring, but not in this case. If the situations were reversed (Celtics blow a 3 point lead with 10 seconds left and possession, followed by losing in OT), the headline would've been "Boston choked this game away." There would be absolutely no mention Indy at all.

On Hauser, even though he's not hitting shots and barely playing passable defense, his gravity is still impacting the game and making things easier for everyone else on offense. It seems like teams are making a much more concerted effort to stick to him when he moves or screens, and even with the noise, it's noteworthy that he's first in the entire league in playoff point differential (+18.4 per 100 possessions). Even when he's not scoring, he's got real value on the court.
 

lovegtm

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On Hauser, even though he's not hitting shots and barely playing passable defense, his gravity is still impacting the game and making things easier for everyone else on offense. It seems like teams are making a much more concerted effort to stick to him when he moves or screens, and even with the noise, it's noteworthy that he's first in the entire league in playoff point differential (+18.4 per 100 possessions). Even when he's not scoring, he's got real value on the court.
This is fair--didn't realize his +/- was so good. I probably am overreacting to his defensive issues in these playoffs, and maybe the lack of 3s, which is my fault.
 

Garshaparra

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You just keep doing the same thing because it will stop working. If they have figured out a way that no other team has to hit 70% of midrange jumpers for an extended period without a team of Michael Jordans, they will win the whole thing. But I would bet against it continuing.
I would too, but it didn't change my expression every time Siakam calmly tossed in another midrange jumper. He was 4-5 on them in the 4th.
 

Senator Donut

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Apr 21, 2010
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Seems like Horfords 3PA volume has been very high during the playoffs. With unfortunately, a tick decrease in accuracy. A few more of those going in would make these leads more comfortable.
This has been a two-year trend with Horford. Last year he shot 44.6% from three in the regular season, 29.8% in the playoffs. This year he was 41.9% in the regular season, 30.6% in the playoffs. I don't think it can be explained by shot quality, if anything Horford seems to be left alone beyond the arc even more often than in the regular season. Obviously 44% in 2023 was an unsustainably high pace, but the playoff numbers are well below his skill level. Hopefully there will be some reversion to the mean.
 

jasail

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I think one of the things that will be evident in this series until KP comes back is that the Pacers have a bench advantage and their play doesn't drop much when Toppin and McConnel play. Conversely, the C's become very exploitable when their bench guys come in and the Cavs and Pacers have hunted those matchups. It's glaringly obvious that the C's starting unit is head and shoulders above the Pacers, so to me, a key to this series is avoiding bleeding leads when they bench has to play.

Kornet in hi-lo action is a disaster. In the first half, Indy ran a bunch of sets with Turner both rolling and popping with ease. Joe seemingly made two good adjustments in the second half playing Luke mostly when Turner sat and running a bunch of zone to limit Luke's exposure. Luke went from like a -6 in the first half to a +2 for the game. I also think there is an opportunity for Tillman to contribute in this series and perhaps a few short spells with Tatum at the 5.

At back up PG, PP needs to figure it out. He's got the footspeed and the tenacious energy, but he's just disconnected and out of position constantly. I'm not sure how you scheme around that. I know they're going to hunt him and try to switch him onto size mismatches and I'm ok with giving up some of those buckets if he's doing everything else. He's just not. Also, on the other end, I've found he's been pretty brutal at initiating the offense as the primary ball handler. I'd have to rewatch, but seemed to be too many possessions when he was dribbling the ball into the court until ~10 seconds left on the shot clock. To me, that seems like he needs to make quicker judgements on whether or not he can dribble penetrate.

At wing, Hauser has been atrocious on both ends. On defense, he has a real foot speed and size disadvantage coupled with some seeming positioning issues. On offense, he's not finding his rhythm perhaps because he's not playing enough to get into it. Given how limited his minutes are (~6/half) and the speed that Indy plays with, I'm thinking Brissett may be a better role player in this matchup. That and maybe he can counter some of Nesmith's recklessness with some of his own. I fear that guy is going to take out everyone on the court. He has this incredible athleticism and it creates situations where he's has this ability to fly into plays that he has no business getting to but at the same time he's just late enough to most of them that it's dangerous.
 

lovegtm

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Rewatching the bad end to the 3rd that put the game back in play: I don't think they had significant issues with PP/Hauser physical limitations. It was nearly all bad communication and indecision.

That's to be expected, because they were toggling between a lot of things on the fly: whom Horford guarded, when to switch, mixing in zone, etc.

This is the tradeoff of in-game adjustments: it's tough to implement and get everyone the same page. I think they have a much better idea now of what Indy can and can't do, and what it feels like for certain things to happen at game speed.

I expect some improvement (but also some hiccups) in game 2. By game 3, I think they'll be mostly locked in on what Indy does, and offensive life will get a lot harder for the Pacers. The personnel is there, but a lot of things you can't work on until you actually play the team.

This is why I love postseason basketball so, so much more than regular season. The 7 games make it a different sport.
 

Cellar-Door

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Sam Hauser has varied between 7th & 8th man all season due to matchups.

Luke is getting minutes now entirely due to KPs injury. He has pretty firmly been the 9th man/3rd string Center with help from Queta/Tillman.
Hauser has been 8th I guess that is accurate, but Kornet played 63 games at 16 MPG, so he was pretty close to Hauser(22 MPG).
The overall point is generally the same. This roster has multiple very good bigs, and isn't particularly well set up to play without one, and Hauser or Pritchard over Kornet isn't going to change that. There is no real advantage for the Celtics in going super-small EVEN when one of their bigs is out. The few times they tried it in the regular season it wasn't particularly good, and their 1 big and 2 big lineups were better.

It's particularly weird to me that it was a takeaway from last night given that the guys who would by default get more run in a super-small lineup (PP and Hauser) were horrendously bad and we should have been actively looking for ways to get them off the floor.

Tillman when he's available is an interesting option in this matchup, but super-small doesn't make much sense, it does nothing for the Celtics and helps IND who will then have a size advantage on the boards without any more challenge (maybe less) on offense.
 

PedroKsBambino

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It's also an example of a big sexy macro adjustment that probably ends up being less impactful than the micro ones they'll be making based on smaller things on film.
We saw Mitchell really take advantage of Al on PnR....I posted the 1.65 points/possession ESPN identified. Indiana targeted the same, unsurprisingly. Celtics had a few responses - pulling in JT and JB more to matchup and the zone, which may or may not repeat but illustrates that junk defenses and change may be part of the plan game to game. But yeah, getting Al in space is a thing and will continue to be.

And...

I do not think likely we do what many of us would like and play JT at the 5....we just haven't seen Celtics do that much defensively and I will be surprised (not shocked as we did see it in very small amounts) if we see it here. This goes way back philosophically---remember Brad playing Amir Johnson a lot? I think they just don't want to go that small, at least not for a lot of minutes. And I agree with lovtgtm---it's easier to suggest than some of the more likely responses. We saw some tweaks last night, and there'll be more. Tillman playing more for purpose of resting Al I would support---unclear what their confidence level in him is now, though, given his absence from Cleveland series in any meaningful way. We just don't have a great answer here - there's no switchable healthy TimeLord to plug in there, or whoever else.

But, I'm not sure how much it is a thing that Celtics have to blow up their rotation/scheme for either.

They need to do better overall defensively, and they need some tweaks to help Al and/or confuse those switches/PnR a bit to make it harder for Indiana. But some of it is just living with x vs Al in mid-range too. They had, I believe, two 15ish foot fallaways from Nembhard on Al. Not bad looks, but given Pacers offense those mid-range looks are not a terrible defensive outcome. So while I've been noting Al in space is an issue for a bunch of games now, I also understand why the Celts reaction is more muted....it is not (yet, at least) really collapsing the defense overall. I worry more about the PnR creating threes than I do some of what we saw last night, which led to more mid-range opps.
 

jasail

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This has been a two-year trend with Horford. Last year he shot 44.6% from three in the regular season, 29.8% in the playoffs. This year he was 41.9% in the regular season, 30.6% in the playoffs. I don't think it can be explained by shot quality, if anything Horford seems to be left alone beyond the arc even more often than in the regular season. Obviously 44% in 2023 was an unsustainably high pace, but the playoff numbers are well below his skill level. Hopefully there will be some reversion to the mean.
I think we can point to probably two things here. First, he may be taking more threes that are not as wide open. In the regular season, it seemed like Al would pass up a three unless he was WIDE open, balanced, and in his spot. With defensive intensity up in the playoffs a somewhat contested corner three with 8 seconds left may be the best shot they get on that possession. Al's a smart and intuitive player and based on positioning/close outs he may see that shot as the team's best option for points on any given possession. With Indy too, I'm curious if he's also not getting the ball on the swing a touch later in the shot clock because of the full court ball pressure. Then there is age and usage. He's playing big minutes late in his career and the legs aren't what they used to be.
 

benhogan

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On Hauser, even though he's not hitting shots and barely playing passable defense, his gravity is still impacting the game and making things easier for everyone else on offense. It seems like teams are making a much more concerted effort to stick to him when he moves or screens, and even with the noise, it's noteworthy that he's first in the entire league in playoff point differential (+18.4 per 100 possessions). Even when he's not scoring, he's got real value on the court.
Good point. Hauser has been 41.7% on 3s (small volume) and is probably their best 3pt shooter in movement. He's dragging defenders around the court

FWIW Sam also led the rotational players in +/- & On-Off for the season +13.4 / +3.9

Hauser has been 8th I guess that is accurate, but Kornet played 63 games at 16 MPG, so he was pretty close to Hauser(22 MPG).
The overall point is generally the same. This roster has multiple very good bigs, and isn't particularly well set up to play without one, and Hauser or Pritchard over Kornet isn't going to change that. There is no real advantage for the Celtics in going super-small EVEN when one of their bigs is out. The few times they tried it in the regular season it wasn't particularly good, and their 1 big and 2 big lineups were better.

It's particularly weird to me that it was a takeaway from last night given that the guys who would by default get more run in a super-small lineup (PP and Hauser) were horrendously bad and we should have been actively looking for ways to get them off the floor.

Tillman when he's available is an interesting option in this matchup, but super-small doesn't make much sense, it does nothing for the Celtics and helps IND who will then have a size advantage on the boards without any more challenge (maybe less) on offense.
No need to guess. I watched every game this season. Hauser and Peyton shared the 7th & 8th spot. That's indisputable.

Nothing will change in the Playoffs as far as rotations, and I'm not suggesting that. Tatum will guard the 5

Joe and the coaching staff did an excellent job this season. My point is, JOE should have been experimented with JAYs/Jrue/White & Hauser small-ball lineup for more than 18 minutes during the regular season.
 

lovegtm

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We saw Mitchell really take advantage of Al on PnR....I posted the 1.65 points/possession ESPN identified. Indiana targeted the same, unsurprisingly. Celtics had a few responses - pulling in JT and JB more to matchup and the zone, which may or may not repeat but illustrates that junk defenses and change may be part of the plan game to game. But yeah, getting Al in space is a thing and will continue to be.

And...

I do not think likely we do what many of us would like and play JT at the 5....we just haven't seen Celtics do that much defensively and I will be surprised (not shocked as we did see it in very small amounts) if we see it here. This goes way back philosophically---remember Brad playing Amir Johnson a lot? I think they just don't want to go that small, at least not for a lot of minutes. And I agree with lovtgtm---it's easier to suggest than some of the more likely responses. We saw some tweaks last night, and there'll be more. Tillman playing more for purpose of resting Al I would support---unclear what their confidence level in him is now, though, given his absence from Cleveland series in any meaningful way. We just don't have a great answer here - there's no switchable healthy TimeLord to plug in there, or whoever else.

But, I'm not sure how much it is a thing that Celtics have to blow up their rotation/scheme for either.

They need to do better overall defensively, and they need some tweaks to help Al and/or confuse those switches/PnR a bit to make it harder for Indiana. But some of it is just living with x vs Al in mid-range too. They had, I believe, two 15ish foot fallaways from Nembhard on Al. Not bad looks, but given Pacers offense those mid-range looks are not a terrible defensive outcome. So while I've been noting Al in space is an issue for a bunch of games now, I also understand why the Celts reaction is more muted....it is not (yet, at least) really collapsing the defense overall. I worry more about the PnR creating threes than I do some of what we saw last night, which led to more mid-range opps.
Agree with all this. Having watched the game more now, I think the Cs come away mostly happy with how they took away 3s, particularly once they took Horford off Turner. They can contest the middies a bit better, but Indiana loses the math if that's their main shot.

I suspect the main focus is tightening up the defensive assignments and expectations to stop the miscommunications that led to layups and 3s in the late 3rd and at times in the first half. Not having the players have to think about 10 adjustments at once (as was sort of the case in-game) will help a lot with that.
 

jmcc5400

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I would too, but it didn't change my expression every time Siakam calmly tossed in another midrange jumper. He was 4-5 on them in the 4th.
Yeah the narrative was that Al was getting "cooked" by Siakam and Nembhart on those mid-range shots in the 4th quarter, but I think that you live with those shots and hope and expect some kind of reversion to the mean. As someone else pointed out, you take 26 points for Siakam on 24 shots (no free throws) every time.
 

Jimbodandy

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Yeah the narrative was that Al was getting "cooked" by Siakam and Nembhart on those mid-range shots in the 4th quarter, but I think that you live with those shots and hope and expect some kind of reversion to the mean. As someone else pointed out, you take 26 points for Siakam on 24 shots (no free throws) every time.
Exactly. We keep talking about how Al's getting cooked when he's really not giving up a lot of easy shots. Siakam getting 26 on 24, Mitchell hitting step back 25 footers...the other guys are good too, and your goal is to force them into harder shots...which Al has been doing. I'm honestly confused.
 

lovegtm

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Exactly. We keep talking about how Al's getting cooked when he's really not giving up a lot of easy shots. Siakam getting 26 on 24, Mitchell hitting step back 25 footers...the other guys are good too, and your goal is to force them into harder shots...which Al has been doing. I'm honestly confused.
I think it's a revealed preference thing, where because the other team wants to attack him, people think it must be a win for them.

That seems wrong to me. The bad Horford stuff for me is when he can't handle the PnR and gives up layups or 3s as a result. Those isos that always end in midrangers seem like wins for Boston to me.
 

jablo1312

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Yeah the narrative was that Al was getting "cooked" by Siakam and Nembhart on those mid-range shots in the 4th quarter, but I think that you live with those shots and hope and expect some kind of reversion to the mean. As someone else pointed out, you take 26 points for Siakam on 24 shots (no free throws) every time.
And to be fair, Siakam missed a wide open 19 footer with a few minutes left. Nesmith missed a more contested one as well. Sometimes shots go in and sometimes they don't.

But, t did seem like Nembhard especially was extremely comfortable sizing up Horford and knowing exactly what move he was going to put on him. Not sure what the answer is exactly but an occasional blitz from somewhere else (or a blitz before he can iso vs Al) probs wouldn't be more damaging.

Biggest thing for me on the rewatch of the 4th + OT is how easy it is for the Celtics to get a good shot when Haliburton is either in the action, or just backed down into the basket. Boston blew a few bunnies around the hoop after blowing by him (in part affected by Turner + Siakam) but will continually get good looks at the rim or from 3 if they keep going after him.

edit: Also, I know they need him behind the arc for spacing purposes but I really would prefer to not have Al taking 13 3's a game this series before KP comes back.
 

Cellar-Door

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I think it's a revealed preference thing, where because the other team wants to attack him, people think it must be a win for them.

That seems wrong to me. The bad Horford stuff for me is when he can't handle the PnR and gives up layups or 3s as a result. Those isos that always end in midrangers seem like wins for Boston to me.
Agreed, Somebody has to be the worst defender on the floor. In the starting 5... that's probably Al in PnR, with the bench it's probably PP in PnR or Kornet in PnR or if you have a skilled strong Big maybe Kornet in the post. In any case the best way to attack the Celtics is always going to be PnR going at the big. They have too many good on-ball defenders not to, you want to make things complicated, get them to make decisions on switch or not, whether to hedge, over or under, gum things up increase the chances of mistakes, and try to find the mismatches (size on PP, quickness on the bigs).
 

sfmainer

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Oct 8, 2005
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I get what they're saying but that is really annoying to read.

I mean....they won the game. Not only did they win the game but they completely snatched it from the jaws of defeat, in a way that could really kill the Pacers confidence. It's the Eastern Conference Finals.

How about a little bit of credit for getting the job done. This late in the season, there are no style points. A W is a W
Nobody clutches pearls these days like Celtics fans, and the national media writ large simply wants Boston teams to lose as payback for the insufferability of RedSoxNation!!!, Deflate-gate, TB12 is the GREATEST QB Eva!!!, whatever. Also an underdog story always gets more clicks even if they eventually revert to the mean and lose. Heck, I like the Indy story except for the fact that they're playing our guys right now.

What I don't get is why folks are saying "All the end of game Indy TOs and mistakes were self inflicted." They weren't. Boston can D up when they decide to.

It's nice that TH took the hit in the post-game presser for dribbling things off his feet, but it doesn't change the fact that he was being hounded by JH when it happened, who last I checked was ok at on-ball D. Was it a straight steal, no, but that doesn't mean he wasn't under duress. He's had a great season, but he's still a kid and JH is a man, things happen.

The TO on the inbound play was forced by some pretty great coverage by DW and JB, it’s not like it was just a fumble on the catch. Should Carlisle have done something different? Maybe, but he didn't, and who is to say they wouldn't have been able to defend the inbound play if he did? IIRC, Indy wouldn't have had any timeouts left, weirder things have happened.

The '1 inch to the left and we're all crying today shot' was made possible by a pretty nice pick/ play and pass. The guy who shot it is pretty ok at offense too, it's not like he was some scrub who we wouldn't want taking the shot. He's an all-star on a max contract for a lot of reasons, including occasionally making baskets from positions most people can't. Heck, if it's not an end of game swallow the whistle moment, he probably has a foul shot to go with it.

The Celtics do play with an infuriating lack of focus and discipline sometimes, which IMO is at least 50% on Joe. The flip side is they are also a pretty good collection of guys who are good at basketball. They are capable of playing great in clutch moments, much as it doesn't fit the current narrative of being gag artists. Was there some good fortune involved, sure, but they grabbed it and ran. Not sure they would've maintained focus in years prior, so I'm choosing to be happy that they did.

C's will get a handle on slowing these jokers down by G3 or so. Mission 16W is all that matters, and the count is now at 9. Championships usually involve some coin flips, you just hope you win 51% of them.

Eff the haters and the media hacks too.

Just win.
 

Auger34

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Rewatching the bad end to the 3rd that put the game back in play: I don't think they had significant issues with PP/Hauser physical limitations. It was nearly all bad communication and indecision.

That's to be expected, because they were toggling between a lot of things on the fly: whom Horford guarded, when to switch, mixing in zone, etc.

This is the tradeoff of in-game adjustments: it's tough to implement and get everyone the same page. I think they have a much better idea now of what Indy can and can't do, and what it feels like for certain things to happen at game speed.

I expect some improvement (but also some hiccups) in game 2. By game 3, I think they'll be mostly locked in on what Indy does, and offensive life will get a lot harder for the Pacers. The personnel is there, but a lot of things you can't work on until you actually play the team.

This is why I love postseason basketball so, so much more than regular season. The 7 games make it a different sport.
In reading your posts, it would seem to suggest that you agree that Kornet should get less minutes than he got last night and Hauser get more? It seems to be what you're analysis says but I dont think I've seen you say anything definitive
 

Senator Donut

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I think it's a revealed preference thing, where because the other team wants to attack him, people think it must be a win for them.

That seems wrong to me. The bad Horford stuff for me is when he can't handle the PnR and gives up layups or 3s as a result. Those isos that always end in midrangers seem like wins for Boston to me.
There's also some additional context. Indy seems to attack Horford more often when their usual offensive creator, Haliburton, is on the bench. So ordinarily, you would expect Boston's defense to win the matchup against an Indy offense without Haliburton. It also creates other positive outcomes for the Pacers, such as brining the Celtics best rebounder and away from the basket so that he's contesting the shot instead of boxing out Turner or whomever.
 

lovegtm

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In reading your posts, it would seem to suggest that you agree that Kornet should get less minutes than he got last night and Hauser get more? It seems to be what you're analysis says but I dont think I've seen you say anything definitive
Na, I think they can play Kornet, especially in zone. My point was that most of the defensive issues were execution/communication/feel for Indy, and less about specific personnel choices.
 

Auger34

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We saw Mitchell really take advantage of Al on PnR....I posted the 1.65 points/possession ESPN identified. Indiana targeted the same, unsurprisingly. Celtics had a few responses - pulling in JT and JB more to matchup and the zone, which may or may not repeat but illustrates that junk defenses and change may be part of the plan game to game. But yeah, getting Al in space is a thing and will continue to be.

And...

I do not think likely we do what many of us would like and play JT at the 5....we just haven't seen Celtics do that much defensively and I will be surprised (not shocked as we did see it in very small amounts) if we see it here. This goes way back philosophically---remember Brad playing Amir Johnson a lot? I think they just don't want to go that small, at least not for a lot of minutes. And I agree with lovtgtm---it's easier to suggest than some of the more likely responses. We saw some tweaks last night, and there'll be more. Tillman playing more for purpose of resting Al I would support---unclear what their confidence level in him is now, though, given his absence from Cleveland series in any meaningful way. We just don't have a great answer here - there's no switchable healthy TimeLord to plug in there, or whoever else.

But, I'm not sure how much it is a thing that Celtics have to blow up their rotation/scheme for either.

They need to do better overall defensively, and they need some tweaks to help Al and/or confuse those switches/PnR a bit to make it harder for Indiana. But some of it is just living with x vs Al in mid-range too. They had, I believe, two 15ish foot fallaways from Nembhard on Al. Not bad looks, but given Pacers offense those mid-range looks are not a terrible defensive outcome. So while I've been noting Al in space is an issue for a bunch of games now, I also understand why the Celts reaction is more muted....it is not (yet, at least) really collapsing the defense overall. I worry more about the PnR creating threes than I do some of what we saw last night, which led to more mid-range opps.
Very good post.

I think X is a better option in this series (he can't shoot at all but he is decent at handling and passing). He's got better foot speed than Luke and is a better match with Turner. However, it doesn't seem like Joe trusts him at all, so who knows
 

Auger34

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On Hauser, even though he's not hitting shots and barely playing passable defense, his gravity is still impacting the game and making things easier for everyone else on offense. It seems like teams are making a much more concerted effort to stick to him when he moves or screens, and even with the noise, it's noteworthy that he's first in the entire league in playoff point differential (+18.4 per 100 possessions). Even when he's not scoring, he's got real value on the court.
Wow, I would have not guessed that. It does make some sense though, due to the gravity that you mentioned. Even though his defense looked pretty bad out there last night, this series does seem like a better fit for him than Cleveland
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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We saw Mitchell really take advantage of Al on PnR....I posted the 1.65 points/possession ESPN identified. Indiana targeted the same, unsurprisingly. Celtics had a few responses - pulling in JT and JB more to matchup and the zone, which may or may not repeat but illustrates that junk defenses and change may be part of the plan game to game. But yeah, getting Al in space is a thing and will continue to be.
You keep mentioning the 1.65 ppp number. Don't you think that's a little misleading? I mean first of all, it's on limited possessions. Second, we all know Mitchell hit a few step-back 3Ps on offense - which BOS wanted him to take. Just because he hit a few doesn't mean that the thought process was incorrect or Al is having defensive issues. No one can guard Mitchell's step-back: he either makes or misses.

Of course getting Al in space is a thing. What else is IND (or CLE or MIA) going to do - go after Jrue or JT or JB or Derrick White?

I will give to you (and everyone else) that Al is the worst defender among the starting 5. I'll also point out that when KP comes back, he's going to be challenged on the perimeter too. But I don't think BOS is going to radically change their overall game plan in response to how Al is playing defense. As noted above, tweaks are fine and switching JB/JT on to Turner was probably a good idea but overall, without more, we're just going to have get used to watching Al defend guys 1 on 1.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I don't understand the 1.143 calculation. The Pacers had 99 FGA, as well as 21 turnovers. That's at least 120 possessions. They probably also had some possessions that resulted in free throws but not a FGA.

How is points per possession calculated?
NBA.com had IND with 111 possessions; BOS with 113. To get to the 1.143, IND had to have 112 possessions, so that number is probably from Synergy.


Rewatching the bad end to the 3rd that put the game back in play: I don't think they had significant issues with PP/Hauser physical limitations. It was nearly all bad communication and indecision.

That's to be expected, because they were toggling between a lot of things on the fly: whom Horford guarded, when to switch, mixing in zone, etc.

This is the tradeoff of in-game adjustments: it's tough to implement and get everyone the same page. I think they have a much better idea now of what Indy can and can't do, and what it feels like for certain things to happen at game speed.

I expect some improvement (but also some hiccups) in game 2. By game 3, I think they'll be mostly locked in on what Indy does, and offensive life will get a lot harder for the Pacers. The personnel is there, but a lot of things you can't work on until you actually play the team.

This is why I love postseason basketball so, so much more than regular season. The 7 games make it a different sport.
Conventional wisdom used to be that an underdogs coming in after playing a long series had their best chance to "steal" a game in G1 when the favorites were rusty after a long layoff.

I hope that is true.

As a corollary, it seems to me that after playing comparatively plodding teams like MIA and CLE, BOS was a little surprised at the speed IND runs their offense, which may have resulted in some of the confusion you mention.

Again, I hope that's true.
 

Deathofthebambino

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Hauser has been 8th I guess that is accurate, but Kornet played 63 games at 16 MPG, so he was pretty close to Hauser(22 MPG).
The overall point is generally the same. This roster has multiple very good bigs, and isn't particularly well set up to play without one, and Hauser or Pritchard over Kornet isn't going to change that. There is no real advantage for the Celtics in going super-small EVEN when one of their bigs is out. The few times they tried it in the regular season it wasn't particularly good, and their 1 big and 2 big lineups were better.

It's particularly weird to me that it was a takeaway from last night given that the guys who would by default get more run in a super-small lineup (PP and Hauser) were horrendously bad and we should have been actively looking for ways to get them off the floor.

Tillman when he's available is an interesting option in this matchup, but super-small doesn't make much sense, it does nothing for the Celtics and helps IND who will then have a size advantage on the boards without any more challenge (maybe less) on offense.
Couple things to point out here. Kornet's minutes this season are really, really loaded with minutes in blowouts late in games. Hauser and PP have a bunch too, but Kornet basically saw minutes when Al or KP sat or in blowouts.

And moving Tatum to the 5 when Horford sits doesn't make them super-small by default. Tatum is one inch (and I'm not even buying that) shorter than Horford. If you run Hauser out there for Horford, and end up with Tatum/Brown/Hauser/White/Jrue or PP, you really don't lose anything size wise and certainly not on the rebounding side seeing how good PP is at rebounding. And I think in this series, the C's are actively not crashing the offensive boards to take away Indiana's transition opportunities.
 

Jimbodandy

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Conventional wisdom used to be that an underdogs coming in after playing a long series had their best chance to "steal" a game in G1 when the favorites were rusty after a long layoff.

I hope that is true.

As a corollary, it seems to me that after playing comparatively plodding teams like MIA and CLE, BOS was a little surprised at the speed IND runs their offense, which may have resulted in some of the confusion you mention.

Again, I hope that's true.
Agreed on all of this. I'd say that BOS wasn't as much surprised at the IND pace/speed as they were simply "not used to it". It's a bit of an adjustment after a glacial pace rockfight team (Miami) and a half-court mostly ISO team (Cleveland).

Agreed on the "confusion" point here and by lgtm. If that gets cleaned up as the Cs get used to Indy's actions and personnel, fantastic. I agree that it's not an issue of Hauser and Pritchard not being playable. It's more that they just played shitty in game 1, especially Pritchard. He has been showing better all year, so it's probably still in there.
 

lovegtm

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Agreed on all of this. I'd say that BOS wasn't as much surprised at the IND pace/speed as they were simply "not used to it". It's a bit of an adjustment after a glacial pace rockfight team (Miami) and a half-court mostly ISO team (Cleveland).

Agreed on the "confusion" point here and by lgtm. If that gets cleaned up as the Cs get used to Indy's actions and personnel, fantastic. I agree that it's not an issue of Hauser and Pritchard not being playable. It's more that they just played shitty in game 1, especially Pritchard. He has been showing better all year, so it's probably still in there.
We see this so, so often in the NBA playoffs: it's one thing to know a team is fast, and it's another to
- see the ways they are fast against your specific personnel
- know the ways that tends to break down your defense
- implement detailed gameplans to handle those specific impacts of speed

One of my pet theories is that this is why "play harder" can be such an effective adjustment for good teams. After 1-2 games of learning an opponent, you can "play harder" in all the right ways--you simply can't do that until you have reps and film on the specific matchup. Over the course of a series, teams tend to grow like plants into each others' cracks.
 

PedroKsBambino

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You keep mentioning the 1.65 ppp number. Don't you think that's a little misleading? I mean first of all, it's on limited possessions. Second, we all know Mitchell hit a few step-back 3Ps on offense - which BOS wanted him to take. Just because he hit a few doesn't mean that the thought process was incorrect or Al is having defensive issues. No one can guard Mitchell's step-back: he either makes or misses.

Of course getting Al in space is a thing. What else is IND (or CLE or MIA) going to do - go after Jrue or JT or JB or Derrick White?

I will give to you (and everyone else) that Al is the worst defender among the starting 5. I'll also point out that when KP comes back, he's going to be challenged on the perimeter too. But I don't think BOS is going to radically change their overall game plan in response to how Al is playing defense. As noted above, tweaks are fine and switching JB/JT on to Turner was probably a good idea but overall, without more, we're just going to have get used to watching Al defend guys 1 on 1.
That PPP ESPN stats and info had was across a far larger data set (believe it was all playoff games) than the one quarter/ten or so (I think?) plays you broke down on this one. Kudos to you for doing that work, to be clear! However, I just don't think you reached the right big picture conclusion. To me, there's a lot of data, and a lot of NBA analysts smarter than me, saying the exact same thing here: the Horford PnR is a big issue and has been all along. We also have seen two different coaches with very different rosters and schemes focus on it, another indicator it's probably a real gap. That doesn't mean you have to agree--and maybe you'll be proven right. I do not think it is some sample size thing or misleading though.

As I said above, I do not think the answer is likely to be pulling Al - and I am not one of the people who was saying he stinks/useless while he was getting beat on these. I do think he's slower, and that this can be exposed and will probably continue to be. As you note, teams are going to pick on something. I think we should be realistic that it's an issue---and as a couple of us noted, the best Celts can do might be to work to change what is conceded on those from being threes to mid-range twos, which has a lot better math. I love Al too, but he ain't what he used to be.

KP has a lot more length, which lets him interfere with jumpers sometimes and recover on drives other times better than Al can. Al is probably still quicker than KP, but he's only a better defender vs certain types of players. So, I agree with you that KP coming back doesn't change the scheme or fundamental math, but KP is also a better defensive player in many situations at this point in their careers---not all, though (I was a big advocate of Al vs Jokic, for example, rather than KP). Plus, splitting minutes some helps Al stay fresh, which also improves his D.
 

Jimbodandy

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We see this so, so often in the NBA playoffs: it's one thing to know a team is fast, and it's another to
- see the ways they are fast against your specific personnel
- know the ways that tends to break down your defense
- implement detailed gameplans to handle those specific impacts of speed

One of my pet theories is that this is why "play harder" can be such an effective adjustment for good teams. After 1-2 games of learning an opponent, you can "play harder" in all the right ways--you simply can't do that until you have reps and film on the specific matchup. Over the course of a series, teams tend to grow like plants into each others' cracks.
Yeah it's one of the best parts of the 7-game series in the playoffs. It's like watching boxers figure each other out over 12 rounds or whatever.
 

PedroKsBambino

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We see this so, so often in the NBA playoffs: it's one thing to know a team is fast, and it's another to
- see the ways they are fast against your specific personnel
- know the ways that tends to break down your defense
- implement detailed gameplans to handle those specific impacts of speed

One of my pet theories is that this is why "play harder" can be such an effective adjustment for good teams. After 1-2 games of learning an opponent, you can "play harder" in all the right ways--you simply can't do that until you have reps and film on the specific matchup. Over the course of a series, teams tend to grow like plants into each others' cracks.
Building on that, it's also a reaction problem: you know what to do, but you have to actually make the decision and do it in a fraction of a second. That's hard, and harder if you haven't been doing it or are surprised. For example, a quick switch to zone doesn't work because the opponent lacks knowledge of how to break the zone - it is that they don't quickly react with the right movements (guy cuts to foul line, others spread out, etc.) and then exeucte those moves/actions. So you lose a few seconds iwth guys seeing the zone at different rates, and then only 3 of the 5 make the adjustment, and then 1 of the 3 doesn't do the right thing and either shot clock hits zero or you turned it over. Most of the time they all knew what to do, but at game speed they couldn't collectively execute it. Ditto for the occasional trap or other action that forces you to react - it's hard. My belief is this is an advantage vet teams have a bit over younger ones - game has generally slowed down for them, so they are more quickly able to adjust. And they have seen it before, though it may take a couple quarters to re-energize their thinking

Indiana makes decisions really fast---they've been practicing doing that all year. The cuts, decisions, actions, shots, passes are fast. You have to adjust to it, and even if you know it and how to react to it still....you have to speed up your reactoins and processing.
 

joe dokes

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As a corollary, it seems to me that after playing comparatively plodding teams like MIA and CLE, BOS was a little surprised at the speed IND runs their offense, which may have resulted in some of the confusion you mention.

Again, I hope that's true.
Agreed on all of this. I'd say that BOS wasn't as much surprised at the IND pace/speed as they were simply "not used to it". It's a bit of an adjustment after a glacial pace rockfight team (Miami) and a half-court mostly ISO team (Cleveland).
Brown sort of said as much after the game.
“We knew they were going to be fast. It didn’t surprise us, but it’s one thing watching them on film and then seeing it in person.
It's a series. I am confident that the Celtics will make the necessary adjustments so that the next win actually counts as a win. ;)
 

bakahump

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"Everything" looked hard for Indiana last night. Especially in the 1st qtr and the first half of the third. There were about 5 possesions where Boston F'd up and allowed an easy Layup. But beyond that tough sledding for Indy. To their credit....they were able to produce despite the "Hard" but long term its not a recipe for success.

Meanwhile for long stretches Offense looked "easy" or at least "sustainable" for the celts. That was about the easiest most non descript 36 points you will see. (Granted some of it was in OT an was tougher then).

those 6 pts on "buzzer beaters" was huge. If boston wins 115-109 after 4qtrs I dont think we are nearly as worried. The flip side of the dual miracles is that boston shrugged them off and kept going. (and yes I realize that "Miracle" luck normalized a bit with 5 secs left).
 

NomarsFool

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I don't know what the Indiana Pacers equivalent of SoSH would be, but if I was on there I think I'd be pretty discouraged that the Pacers coughed up a pretty good opportunity to win a game at TD Garden. "Steal" isn't quite the right verb, because they would have earned it, but the Pacers need to win one in TD Garden and they blew a really good chance to do that last night.

For the Pacers themselves, though, I'm not sure they'll be that discouraged. They proved that they can hang with Boston and deserve to be on the same floor as the Celtics. So, I don't seem them being too down on themselves. I mean, after falling down 12-0 - I sort of expected the Pacers to simply melt. But, they didn't. They kept clawing back every time it looked like the Celtics were pulling away. So, that seems to be a team that doesn't get down on themselves.

Hopefully the Celtics really bring it on Thursday and put up a comfortable drubbing (that's not at all to suggest they didn't have effort last night, I think they did).
 

ifmanis5

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Perk today on the NBA Today: The Celtics were not prepared to play. They did no preparation in 5 days. The Pacers looked more prepared than the Celtics.
 

jmcc5400

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I don't know what the Indiana Pacers equivalent of SoSH would be, but if I was on there I think I'd be pretty discouraged that the Pacers coughed up a pretty good opportunity to win a game at TD Garden. "Steal" isn't quite the right verb, because they would have earned it, but the Pacers need to win one in TD Garden and they blew a really good chance to do that last night.

For the Pacers themselves, though, I'm not sure they'll be that discouraged. They proved that they can hang with Boston and deserve to be on the same floor as the Celtics. So, I don't seem them being too down on themselves. I mean, after falling down 12-0 - I sort of expected the Pacers to simply melt. But, they didn't. They kept clawing back every time it looked like the Celtics were pulling away. So, that seems to be a team that doesn't get down on themselves.

Hopefully the Celtics really bring it on Thursday and put up a comfortable drubbing (that's not at all to suggest they didn't have effort last night, I think they did).
I think the Pacers are angry about the loss, but confident that they can hang with the Celtics, based on the belief that they will improve on 22 turnovers, that they demolished the Celtics bench, and that the pace at which they play will eventually wear down Horford and Holiday over the course of a 7 game series.
 

Cellar-Door

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Couple things to point out here. Kornet's minutes this season are really, really loaded with minutes in blowouts late in games. Hauser and PP have a bunch too, but Kornet basically saw minutes when Al or KP sat or in blowouts.

And moving Tatum to the 5 when Horford sits doesn't make them super-small by default. Tatum is one inch (and I'm not even buying that) shorter than Horford. If you run Hauser out there for Horford, and end up with Tatum/Brown/Hauser/White/Jrue or PP, you really don't lose anything size wise and certainly not on the rebounding side seeing how good PP is at rebounding. And I think in this series, the C's are actively not crashing the offensive boards to take away Indiana's transition opportunities.
Tatum is like 30-40 pounds lighter than Horford. But also you're really removing him for Hauser, so you're dropping 40 pounds at C, and a bunch of length at PF.

Can it be done against some lineups.... sure, but I don't think it solves any of the Celtics' problems. The Celtics are the better team, they should impose on the Pacers by playing their best guys.
 

Senator Donut

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I don't know what the Indiana Pacers equivalent of SoSH would be, but if I was on there I think I'd be pretty discouraged that the Pacers coughed up a pretty good opportunity to win a game at TD Garden. "Steal" isn't quite the right verb, because they would have earned it, but the Pacers need to win one in TD Garden and they blew a really good chance to do that last night.

For the Pacers themselves, though, I'm not sure they'll be that discouraged. They proved that they can hang with Boston and deserve to be on the same floor as the Celtics. So, I don't seem them being too down on themselves. I mean, after falling down 12-0 - I sort of expected the Pacers to simply melt. But, they didn't. They kept clawing back every time it looked like the Celtics were pulling away. So, that seems to be a team that doesn't get down on themselves.

Hopefully the Celtics really bring it on Thursday and put up a comfortable drubbing (that's not at all to suggest they didn't have effort last night, I think they did).
It reminds me a lot of the 2018 NBA Finals. The Cavs had a chance to win in regulation, but J.R. Smith didn't know the score and the Warriors won in overtime. My reaction at the time was that it was going to be incredibly hard for the Cavs to outplay the heavily favored Warriors four times, but nearly impossible to have to do it five out of seven.
 

joe dokes

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Perk today on the NBA Today: The Celtics were not prepared to play. They did no preparation in 5 days. The Pacers looked more prepared than the Celtics.
Based on the 7 minutes of his contributions that I've actually sat through over the past several years (probably couldn't find the remote) I'd say "lack of preparation" is a subject upon which Perk is an expert.
 

Auger34

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Tatum is like 30-40 pounds lighter than Horford. But also you're really removing him for Hauser, so you're dropping 40 pounds at C, and a bunch of length at PF.

Can it be done against some lineups.... sure, but I don't think it solves any of the Celtics' problems. The Celtics are the better team, they should impose on the Pacers by playing their best guys.
What @Deathofthebambino proposed is playing Hauser instead of Kornet. No KP means that Kornet gets bumped up but, with this match up, there's not a huge need for his Kornet's size. In regard to your last sentence, based off of MPG this entire year, the organization thinks that Hauser is a better player than Kornet.
 

Deathofthebambino

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Tatum is like 30-40 pounds lighter than Horford. But also you're really removing him for Hauser, so you're dropping 40 pounds at C, and a bunch of length at PF.

Can it be done against some lineups.... sure, but I don't think it solves any of the Celtics' problems. The Celtics are the better team, they should impose on the Pacers by playing their best guys.
Yeah, this was pointed out. I'm not considering playing Tatum at the 5 instead of Horford. I'm solely talking about playing Tatum at the 5 in the non-Horford minutes.

The reality is that Indiana is not a halfcourt, post up offense in which Turner is going to be down there banging away with Tatum on entry passes. Dude basically lives on the perimeter and Kornet has no shot to get up into him and if he does, Turner has the game to go right by him. We're switching everything anyway, so Tatum just takes away Turner feasting in the non-Horford minutes. It gives the added benefit of having Tatum out there with Hauser, instead of Tatum going to the bench with Horford and we end up with Kornet/Hauser/PP on the floor at the same time, which got worked two different times last night.
 

Justthetippett

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Perk today on the NBA Today: The Celtics were not prepared to play. They did no preparation in 5 days. The Pacers looked more prepared than the Celtics.
Perk's schtick is literally to make things up, mix in some Beaumont, Tx nonsense and yell at Stephen A. It's unbearable. When they had CP3 along with Myers in studio the other night it almost sounded coherent. Even Stephen A. toned things down a bit.