The Heat is on, ECF here we come!

Saints Rest

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One thing that I haven't seen directly touched on -- but CBS alluded to it -- is the effect, both physical/tangible and emotional/mental/intangible, that Toronto's multi-variable defense had on the Celtics shooters and offense in general. I think CBS's quote (paraphrased here) was basically that the Celtics would figure out one defense and have success on one trip down the floor, then the next time down the floor, what worked before now wouldn't work. In other words, Stephens and all the Celtics had to be adjusting their approach all the time.

It surely affected both team and individual rhythms, but I have to think that it was mentally exhausting as well.

I wonder too if this is why Toront won every 3rd quarter. Although you would think that the same effect would apply to the start of each game as well . . . hmmm.

Does Miami have the horses to do that? Or will they try to make one thing work over and over.
 

InstaFace

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Miami is a very good shooting team, but I tend to discount their shooting against Milwaukee. Milwaukee was mediocre against the three in the regular season and bad in the playoffs, Orlando shot 38% from three against them in the first round. The Celtics are elite at defending the three, they held Philly to 26% in the first round and Toronto to 32% in the second round. Both of those teams were in the top 10 in three point shooting during the regular season I believe. Miami will win games in this series with hot shooting no doubt, but the Celtics aren't just going to basically concede them in the way that Milwaukee does.

On the other side, Miami has individual defenders who can be exploited. Hayward probably won't play in this series, but my recollection of the Celtics win against Miami in January is that they sought out Duncan Robinson and Hayward torched him. Tatum didn't play in that game and I'm extremely confident that he can do the same thing. It felt to me like Tatum, after being dogged by Toronto's defense in the middle of the series, started to figure stuff out in the 4th quarter/OT of Game 6 and carried it over to Game 7. He just needs to have 4 games like that for the Celtics to win. I feel like Toronto was a tougher matchup for Tatum than Miami will be, and I certainly think that was the case for Kemba as well. If Tatum can build off what he learned in the previous round and Kemba can just not play like utter dogshit, then I'm with lovegtm, Celtics in 6.
Moreover, a lot of the 3s we gave up to Toronto (90 on 279 att) were to Ibaka (15 on 31 att), who is one of the best 3P shooters in the league, nevermind best for a big man. Theis, TL and co were often out of position to defend that, perhaps by intentional strategy, and he made us pay more often than not. Toronto's 3 point shooters not named Ibaka hit at 30%, which in my mind is totally acceptable from a defensive perspective.

By contrast, Miami's big men are not 3P shooters, unless you count Olynyk. Bam Adebayo has not attempted a single one in the playoffs. Meyers Leonard hit them at a good clip in the regular season, but has played all of 9 playoff minutes and we shouldn't expect to see him. Likewise, Olynyk is a legit 3P threat, but only has 13 MPG in the playoffs, and his style generally has him playing in more wing-like positioning anyway, so we'd probably have Grant or TL on him rather than Theis (whose primary job will be vs Bam).
 

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The 21 ESPN "experts" split 11 to 10 in favor of a Heat victory. No one went less than 6 games. Looks like the big media throwdown is between Marc Spears (Celtics in 6) vs Ramona Shelburne (Heat in 6). I'll lean towards Marc's side since he focuses on the C's quite a bit as opposed to Ramona who is more a Laker expert.

 

shoelace

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You're not wrong. Watched the entire MIA-MIL series and none of Dragic, Robinson, and Herro was stopping anyone one on one. Particularly on transition - whenever any MIL player saw that Herro or Robinson were back on D, the MIL player would just head for the hoop and would generally either get fouled or a great look.
I only watched two of the MIL/MIA games, but this tracks with what I saw. If Kemba can hit transition 3s, it does a lot for the Celtics offense. When he had a dude with a 7' 2'' wingspan guarding him, that was just not possible. But this sort of goes to lovegtm's point, that Kemba is demanding defensive attention even when struggling offensively, which opens up stuff for other guys. Either Miami is going to have to live with Dragic/Herro guarding him, and potentially getting torched, or devote defensive resources to guarding him that will hurt their three point shooting.

Bam, on the other hand, was great. Not just vs Giannis but against anyone he matched up against. As this article states, he's almost surely the key to the series. He may also have extra motivation because he was cut from Team USA last year (for Marvin Bagley and Derrick White, of all people); I know none of the Cs were involved in the decision but maybe he wants to show the world they were wrong.
Bam is a concern, I'd have to go back and watch the bubble game to see how individual guys matched up against him. If the Celtics can disrupt with Miami's shooters (they can) and have one of Smart/Tatum/Brown slow Butler (they can), I'm not really afraid that Bam is going to beat the Celtics by himself. Unless it's refball and he gets 20 free throws and the Celtics shoot horribly from three, both of which can absolutely happen. I'd also be curious to see if Grant Williams could guard him a little bit if they went small.
 

Kliq

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The 21 ESPN "experts" split 11 to 10 in favor of a Heat victory. No one went less than 6 games. Looks like the big media throwdown is between Marc Spears (Celtics in 6) vs Ramona Shelburne (Heat in 6). I'll lean towards Marc's side since he focuses on the C's quite a bit as opposed to Ramona who is more a Laker expert.

Ramona Shelburne is one of those people who has an incredible amount of respect from other people in the media, but anytime I hear her talk or read her work I find her to be kind of a hack. She was an apologist for Jeannie Buss while that organization was being run into the ground, and only got bailed out because LeBron wanted to live in LA. I feel the same way about Bill Plaschke, who also seems to be really respected, so maybe it is just an LA thing with me. Adande is cool though.
 

Eddie Jurak

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I know this is a Celtics board but can one person at least acknowledge that in the one game Miami has gone small against us this year with Bam at the 5......he got to the line 18 times? This seems to be a horror matchup against the foul probe Theis.
The weird thing is that Bam played 32 minutes in that game, as did Kelly Olynyk. No other bigs played at all for the Heat.

Bam went to the line 18 times, but Theis only picked up 2 fouls in 26 minutes (and Kanter had 1 in 15 minutes).

Bam's line was 21 points (on 5-12 from 2 and 11-18 at the line) 12 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and a block.

Who was fouling Bam? Not Theis and Kanter, mostly. Looking a Celtic foul numbers from the game, Marcus, who was a -16, fouled out in 16 minutes. Tatum also had 5 fouls, and Semi was the only other Celtic with more than 3.

I watched a little of that game, and all I remember about it is Bam abusing Marcus Smart a few times.

Do the Celtics need to play Bam somewhat they way they do Embiid? Let Bam get his, but try to avoid having Tatum or Smart guard him and don't let Bam open up opportunities for other Heat players. Guard him with Theis, Grant, Semi, Brown.
 

ifmanis5

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Ramona Shelburne is one of those people who has an incredible amount of respect from other people in the media, but anytime I hear her talk or read her work I find her to be kind of a hack. She was an apologist for Jeannie Buss while that organization was being run into the ground, and only got bailed out because LeBron wanted to live in LA. I feel the same way about Bill Plaschke, who also seems to be really respected, so maybe it is just an LA thing with me. Adande is cool though.
These are correct takes. Shelley Smith kept it real as well.
 

NomarsFool

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Celtics will have to shoot better than they did against Toronto. I know the Raptors' D played a big role in this. It felt like they were passing up (somewhat) open looks during some of those grindfests against the Raptors and that really can't continue.
One thing that I noticed is that it seemed like the Celtics would have open shots on what could have been an immediate catch and shoot, but instead up-faked and then passed or did a side-step (not really step-back) three. It seemed like they were giving up easier shots for more difficult shots. Especially if the defender didn't really bite on the up-fake - it was almost like they were inviting the closeout instead of just shooting when open.
 

Jimbodandy

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The 21 ESPN "experts" split 11 to 10 in favor of a Heat victory. No one went less than 6 games. Looks like the big media throwdown is between Marc Spears (Celtics in 6) vs Ramona Shelburne (Heat in 6). I'll lean towards Marc's side since he focuses on the C's quite a bit as opposed to Ramona who is more a Laker expert.

How many of those experts had the Heat squashing Milwaukee like a windshield meeting a junebug?
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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The weird thing is that Bam played 32 minutes in that game, as did Kelly Olynyk. No other bigs played at all for the Heat.

Bam went to the line 18 times, but Theis only picked up 2 fouls in 26 minutes (and Kanter had 1 in 15 minutes).

Bam's line was 21 points (on 5-12 from 2 and 11-18 at the line) 12 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and a block.

Who was fouling Bam? Not Theis and Kanter, mostly. Looking a Celtic foul numbers from the game, Marcus, who was a -16, fouled out in 16 minutes. Tatum also had 5 fouls, and Semi was the only other Celtic with more than 3.

I watched a little of that game, and all I remember about it is Bam abusing Marcus Smart a few times.

Do the Celtics need to play Bam somewhat they way they do Embiid? Let Bam get his, but try to avoid having Tatum or Smart guard him and don't let Bam open up opportunities for other Heat players. Guard him with Theis, Grant, Semi, Brown.
Jaylen fouled Bam twice as did Smart. Otherwise Adebayo was pretty into abusing the rest of the C's regulars evenly with Hayward, Kemba, Tatum and even Semif feeling some Bam during the game. He even got fouled by Wanamaker just for good measure.

Finally, I love data versus eyes, especially when it comes to basketball. However I think Miami is a tough one given that the two "regular" season games were eight and nine months ago before the Heat had acquired Crowder and Iguodala and the bubble/restart game likely had both sides playing very vanilla in anticipation of a potential playoff match-up.
 

The Social Chair

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Ramona Shelburne is one of those people who has an incredible amount of respect from other people in the media, but anytime I hear her talk or read her work I find her to be kind of a hack. She was an apologist for Jeannie Buss while that organization was being run into the ground, and only got bailed out because LeBron wanted to live in LA. I feel the same way about Bill Plaschke, who also seems to be really respected, so maybe it is just an LA thing with me. Adande is cool though.
100% correct. Her on court knowledge is a joke. She's an access journalist but doesn't use it in a critical way (unlike Jackie Mac) She was doing Jeanie PR for the 6 years before Lebron when the Lakers were a joke.
 

lexrageorge

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The weird thing is that Bam played 32 minutes in that game, as did Kelly Olynyk. No other bigs played at all for the Heat.

Bam went to the line 18 times, but Theis only picked up 2 fouls in 26 minutes (and Kanter had 1 in 15 minutes).

Bam's line was 21 points (on 5-12 from 2 and 11-18 at the line) 12 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and a block.

Who was fouling Bam? Not Theis and Kanter, mostly. Looking a Celtic foul numbers from the game, Marcus, who was a -16, fouled out in 16 minutes. Tatum also had 5 fouls, and Semi was the only other Celtic with more than 3.

I watched a little of that game, and all I remember about it is Bam abusing Marcus Smart a few times.

Do the Celtics need to play Bam somewhat they way they do Embiid? Let Bam get his, but try to avoid having Tatum or Smart guard him and don't let Bam open up opportunities for other Heat players. Guard him with Theis, Grant, Semi, Brown.
There were 10 fouls after which Bam went to the line. Of those, 8 were shooting fouls on 2 point shots, and 2 of those 8 were of the "+1" variety: (courtesy of ESPN):

Brown - 2 (one 3-point play)
Smart - 2 (one 3-point play)
Kemba
Tatum (penalty situation)
Hayward (penalty situation)
Theis
Semi
Wanamaker

As for non-shooting fouls outside the bonus, there were 5 times Celtics players were called while Bam was on the floor, of which only 2 are relevant:

Theis
Tatum
Robert Williams: 3 desperation fouls at the end of the game.
 

RedOctober3829

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There were 10 fouls after which Bam went to the line. Of those, 8 were shooting fouls on 2 point shots, and 2 of those 8 were of the "+1" variety: (courtesy of ESPN):

Brown - 2 (one 3-point play)
Smart - 2 (one 3-point play)
Kemba
Tatum (penalty situation)
Hayward (penalty situation)
Theis
Semi
Wanamaker

As for non-shooting fouls outside the bonus, there were 5 times Celtics players were called while Bam was on the floor, of which only 2 are relevant:

Theis
Tatum
Robert Williams: 3 desperation fouls at the end of the game.
Gotcha on Williams. I didn't see how in the world he had 3 fouls in less than a minute but that is why. So maybe Williams should be used on Bam as Williams' athletic ability can come close to matching Bam's. Bam could push him around on the block however.
 

DJnVa

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The "everybody who doesn't pick against the Celtics is a homer" schtick gets old after awhile. It's low-content posturing.

Bam will present problems at times, but that bubble game felt really weird and low-energy to me from the Celtics end. The Celtics are playing significantly better defense now, and have enough bodies to throw at post guys that I'm not overly concerned about that particular aspect.
Additionally that game saw the follow anomalies, which are very unlikely to happen in this postseason series:

--The game was essentially meaningless for seeding.
--Semi and Wanamaker played 20+ minutes each.
--Kanter played 15 minutes.
--Butler didn't play.
--Nunn played, he's not in rotation now.

There's something there with going small with Bam, but that was just a weird game with a lot of variables that won't be present going forward.
 

lexrageorge

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Gotcha on Williams. I didn't see how in the world he had 3 fouls in less than a minute but that is why. So maybe Williams should be used on Bam as Williams' athletic ability can come close to matching Bam's. Bam could push him around on the block however.
The first Williams foul, which incidentally was the first foul against the Celtics in the 4th quarter, was with 11 seconds left and the Celtics down 3 and Miami in possession. Williams was forced to foul again with 5 seconds left after the Heat successfully inbounded the ball, and that was enough to send Iguodala to the line. The Heat got the rebound after Iguodala missed the 2nd free throw, forcing Williams to foul Robinson with something like 3 seconds left.
 

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A few thoughts.....

1) I agree Bam is a matchup problem at least on paper. I'm not sure whether TL will or won't be able to give some good minutes there---he has changed a great deal in recent weeks and I think no one really has any idea. Theis is not a great matchup, and Kanter isn't either. I don't think Grant is a great matchup, but it is not impossible he can give 15 good minutes. Bam also needs to show whether he can be a 20-25 ppg guy as a focal player for 7 games which would make it tough for Cs.

2) Toronto's core defensive challenge was that they couldn't stay in front of 4 Celtics (Smart, Kemba, Tatum, Brown) off the dribble. Miami can D up a couple of those guys at a time with Butler, Iggy, possibly Bam on Tatum. Maybe Crowder as well, not sure he's quick enough but he's very solid. But their guards are materially worse at the point of attack, with Dragic and Herro simply being bad, so they either are going to rely on a zone (which Celtics improved against vs Tor, but is still a question) or do a lot of trapping/rotation. I just don't see them being even as good as Tor was at stopping the ball, and Toronto wasn't good at it save game 6. Especially with Hayward coming back in some form at some point, I think there's a real chance this is again the biggest issue in the series---when Celtics spread and create space they end up with a lot of one-on-ones ending in layups or penetration

3) ESPN pointed out that Miami draws a lot of fouls and that FT are a bit of the offense's 'secret sauce'. The degree to which this continues---Celtics defense, sometimes-reduced whistles in playoffs, and Miami's skill at it all intersect here---is a big deal as I don't see Miami's offense as being great otherwise.

4) Butler is a guy who will always compete but not always succeed. Celtics have some good defenders for him and while I know Mia has had success in individual games without Butler I do think over the course of the series if he isn't putting up a few games in the mid-20s/low 30s it is likely Miami won't keep up offensively

5) The Celtics role players were collectively effective vs Toronto, I thought. Wanna had several good games and was bad only in game 7; Grant was solid in his role. Semi was solid overall given his limited role. TL was overall effective, even briefly impactful in two games. Especially if Hayward contributes they don't need anyone to do more than they did vs Toronto, but they do need guys not to be terrrible. So, this one is really about being passable---if they can get minutes from Wanna, Semi, Grant/Kanter that don't hurt them it's a big win. Miami has better depth, but that is largely irrelevant so long as the Celtics role guys are not negatives
 

NomarsFool

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Hayward was big in one of those victories over Miami in the regular season (maybe the game where Tatum was out, can't remember). I feel like I also remember him guarding Butler quite a bit, but unsure on that one. It's unfortunate he'll be out / diminished for this series, because I think he could really play a big role. But, hopefully they are able to work him in slowly to get ready for the Finals.
 

HomeRunBaker

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The weird thing is that Bam played 32 minutes in that game, as did Kelly Olynyk. No other bigs played at all for the Heat.

Bam went to the line 18 times, but Theis only picked up 2 fouls in 26 minutes (and Kanter had 1 in 15 minutes).

Bam's line was 21 points (on 5-12 from 2 and 11-18 at the line) 12 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal, and a block.

Who was fouling Bam? Not Theis and Kanter, mostly. Looking a Celtic foul numbers from the game, Marcus, who was a -16, fouled out in 16 minutes. Tatum also had 5 fouls, and Semi was the only other Celtic with more than 3.

I watched a little of that game, and all I remember about it is Bam abusing Marcus Smart a few times.

Do the Celtics need to play Bam somewhat they way they do Embiid? Let Bam get his, but try to avoid having Tatum or Smart guard him and don't let Bam open up opportunities for other Heat players. Guard him with Theis, Grant, Semi, Brown.
I don’t recall a thing about the game (I don’t even recall watching it) but I’d guess that Miami ran continual pick-n-rolls and kept going to the matchup that was working with (it appears) Smart and Tatum being the primary victims. I’ll post more about this games matchups in the betting thread but I expect more offense in the first game or two until the defenses get accustomed to exactly what the offenses are looking to do.....not much different than most 7-game NBA playoff series.
 

128

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5) The Celtics role players were collectively effective vs Toronto, I thought. Wanna had several good games and was bad only in game 7; Grant was solid in his role. Semi was solid overall given his limited role. TL was overall effective, even briefly impactful in two games. Especially if Hayward contributes they don't need anyone to do more than they did vs Toronto, but they do need guys not to be terrrible. So, this one is really about being passable---if they can get minutes from Wanna, Semi, Grant/Kanter that don't hurt them it's a big win. Miami has better depth, but that is largely irrelevant so long as the Celtics role guys are not negatives
The bar is not especially high for Semi: play good defense, avoid turnovers, and hit one or two 3-pointers in each game. It's frustrating that he often falls short of that.
 

DJnVa

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Bam only made 11 of those free throws. And without watching video of all those plays, I imagine most of those fouls were good ones
John Karalis, on his podcast today said one route Boston could take was making Miami route their offense through Bam versus all their shooters bombing from deep.
 

saintnick912

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This is more of a question for people who know more about the by-lineup stats. From time to time it looks like they run out a "3 smalls" lineup with all of Kemba, Smart, and Wannamaker on the floor. And to my eyes it always seems to go poorly. Do the numbers back that up? What's the advantage, or is it just a shorthanded thing with Hayward out?
 

SteveF

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I'm most worried about the Celtics offense.

Late in Game 6 and 7 they did a pretty bad job when Toronto went small and started switching. Their base offense doesn't really do enough to attack teams that switch on/off ball (e.g. slipping screens, cutting after passes instead of screening, set plays instead of motion offense). Stevens has seemingly been reluctant to matchup hunt, and when the Celtics did in that Toronto series they chose to attack some pretty bad matchups (You are CHOOSING to go at OG Anunoby in iso? Really?)

Remember what the offense looked like against Houston in those games in February? It was pretty ugly.

Miami won't play zone to start. They are going to man up and switch, and I am extremely worried about whether Stevens will consistently and relentlessly hunt matchups (Robinson, Dragic, Herro) to the extent that he should (100% of the time). It's not in his basketball DNA. He did a poor job of it in the Toronto series.

As time goes on, more teams will likely be relying on switching defenses. My hope is that the Celtics install more offensive sets that allow them to attack that kind of defense without having to always hunt matchups, which Stevens seems disinclined towards doing (not without reason).
 

HowBoutDemSox

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Miami won't play zone to start. They are going to man up and switch, and I am extremely worried about whether Stevens will consistently and relentlessly hunt matchups (Robinson, Dragic, Herro) to the extent that he should (100% of the time). It's not in his basketball DNA. He did a poor job of it in the Toronto series.
He did mercilessly hunt matchups against Philly two year ago, when he picked on Reddick, Belineli, Ilyasova, etc., until they were basically unplayable. Wouldn’t surprise me if he takes the playbook out again against Miami.
 

ugmo33

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I imagine the Heat would like to hunt Kemba by getting him switched onto Butler, so I'm hoping the C's can be a little more choosy about their switches and go under in those situations. They are sometimes just so willing to switch, It also seems like Crowder could be surprisingly important in the series. Miami has lineups that are kind of O or D specialized, but when he's hitting threes they become much more versatile
 

Saints Rest

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I imagine the Heat would like to hunt Kemba by getting him switched onto Butler, so I'm hoping the C's can be a little more choosy about their switches and go under in those situations. They are sometimes just so willing to switch, It also seems like Crowder could be surprisingly important in the series. Miami has lineups that are kind of O or D specialized, but when he's hitting threes they become much more versatile
One thing that always impresses me about the Celtic team D is the way the wings will switch behind the play, usually from the weak side, to switch Kemba off a mismatch down low.
 

lovegtm

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He did mercilessly hunt matchups against Philly two year ago, when he picked on Reddick, Belineli, Ilyasova, etc., until they were basically unplayable. Wouldn’t surprise me if he takes the playbook out again against Miami.
Yeah, was about to post this. I agree with SteveF that there were some weird choices in the Raptors series, but the Nate Duncan talking point that attacking weak links isn’t in Stevens’ “basketball DNA” is completely unmoored from reality.

After that Philly series that was almost totally defined by mismatch hunting, the Celtics hunted Korver relentlessly in the Cavs series, with sexy results.

I would need to go back and watch the film, but Toronto is unique in their propensity to really aggressively help, and that changes some of how you approach isoing. They also just don’t put many/any weak links out there—they’re a really good defense.
 

SteveF

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I'd have to go back and look at that Philly series. Part of the issue in the Philly series was the sheer number of bad matchups Philly was putting out there. It would have been hard to not find a bad matchup to exploit.

And it wasn't just the Toronto series this year. Go back and look at those games against Houston. Maybe it's less of a coaching issue than it was a personnel issue. They were not good at dealing with Houston's switching.

Tatum was poor in isolation against Toronto. I actually think he was BETTER when Toronto helped more as it opened up passing options. When Toronto just guarded Tatum in isos straight up 1 v. 1, he was not good.

Maybe that's less of an issue in this series because it will be mostly Kemba in screening actions. But they had real problems in that Toronto series.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I'd have to go back and look at that Philly series. Part of the issue in the Philly series was the sheer number of bad matchups Philly was putting out there. It would have been hard to not find a bad matchup to exploit.

And it wasn't just the Toronto series this year. Go back and look at those games against Houston. Maybe it's less of a coaching issue than it was a personnel issue. They were not good at dealing with Houston's switching.

Tatum was poor in isolation against Toronto. I actually think he was BETTER when Toronto helped more as it opened up passing options. When Toronto just guarded Tatum in isos straight up 1 v. 1, he was not good.

Maybe that's less of an issue in this series because it will be mostly Kemba in screening actions. But they had real problems in that Toronto series.
Teams don't hunt matchups in the regular season because it's not worth it and they don't have days to prepare.

Cs did hunt matchups against TOR - I mean how many times did they go to Tatum against FVV at the foul line? It's just harder because TOR has a sophisticated defense that means they can figure out to unravel the matchup and FVV is a good individual defender.

Everyone knows BOS is going after Herro and Robinson. MIA might not start zone but they'll be in zone most of the series IMO. (If they aren't, BOS is in real trouble.)
 

Imbricus

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ESPN may like the Heat, but it's completely the opposite at CBS Sports. Everyone is on the Celtics bandwagon. Most optimistic of the six: Celts in 5.
 

slamminsammya

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Moreover, a lot of the 3s we gave up to Toronto (90 on 279 att) were to Ibaka (15 on 31 att), who is one of the best 3P shooters in the league, nevermind best for a big man. Theis, TL and co were often out of position to defend that, perhaps by intentional strategy, and he made us pay more often than not. Toronto's 3 point shooters not named Ibaka hit at 30%, which in my mind is totally acceptable from a defensive perspective.
I know its not central to your point, but, uh, wut? He ranks about 65th percentile in 3P% this season on lowish volume.

He was putting in about 22 minutes per game against Boston and highly effective. I could see Miami getting Olynyk (who was a 40% 3p shooter this year, compared to Ibaka's 38.5%) out there more than they had him against Milwaukee with similar issues for the Celtics. One big difference is the quality of screen setting. Ibaka is solid, and the good ball screens were forcing Theis et al to drop to cover the ball handler allowing him to be wide open on the pop. I dont recall Olynyk being like glue as a screen setter but I could be wrong.
 

lovegtm

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I'd have to go back and look at that Philly series. Part of the issue in the Philly series was the sheer number of bad matchups Philly was putting out there. It would have been hard to not find a bad matchup to exploit.

And it wasn't just the Toronto series this year. Go back and look at those games against Houston. Maybe it's less of a coaching issue than it was a personnel issue. They were not good at dealing with Houston's switching.

Tatum was poor in isolation against Toronto. I actually think he was BETTER when Toronto helped more as it opened up passing options. When Toronto just guarded Tatum in isos straight up 1 v. 1, he was not good.

Maybe that's less of an issue in this series because it will be mostly Kemba in screening actions. But they had real problems in that Toronto series.
Your points are on...point, but we're starting to conflate multiple issues here.

The first is "does Brad Stevens like to hunt obvious mismatches on switches?", and the answer to that is a clear yes. The Celtics have done it for years, and have continued to this year.

The second question is "how do you attack a switching defense with no really weak links?" That's harder, and that's the problem that Houston and small-Toronto present. You can try to engineer a switch to the weakest-of-not-weak links, but it's still not great. The Celtics eventually did this against Toronto by just getting Kemba on FVV, but you can definitely argue they should have gone to that sooner.

If Miami plays any 2 of Robinson, Herro, and Dragic together against the Celtics' good lineups, the Celtics will be in Situation 1 (weak links to attack). They probably will be able to either play those guys off the floor or force zone from Spoelstra.

Against Iggy/Crowder it's tougher--you probably don't get much out of setting up marginally+ switches there. They're going to have to find some other offensive counters, and depend on those guys dragging down Miami's offense on the other end. That scenario seems more likely to lead to rockfights.
 

lovegtm

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ESPN may like the Heat, but it's completely the opposite at CBS Sports. Everyone is on the Celtics bandwagon. Most optimistic of the six: Celts in 5.
Have the Celtics been this favored in a Round2+ series in the Stevens era? They were underdogs to Milwaukee 2019, Cleveland 2018, Philly 2018, Cleveland 2017...don't recall Washington 2017. They were betting underdogs to the Raptors in the series this year.

I would say it's a bad sign, but it just hasn't happened to this point.
 

Eddie Jurak

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I think a big advantage of getting Hayward back will be taking a weak link (Wanamaker) mostly out of the equation. When Kemba is out, the Celtics will be able to use very switchable lineups with Smart at the point.
 

benhogan

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I imagine the Heat would like to hunt Kemba by getting him switched onto Butler, so I'm hoping the C's can be a little more choosy about their switches and go under in those situations. They are sometimes just so willing to switch, It also seems like Crowder could be surprisingly important in the series. Miami has lineups that are kind of O or D specialized, but when he's hitting threes they become much more versatile
Wouldn't 90% of NBA team's top scorer want to hunt Kemba in the halfcourt?

Jaylen Brown will guard Butler in the halfcourt. Jaylen will go under screens on Jimmy since he's a low volume/terrible 3pt shooter. Butler is also excellent at drawing/hitting FTs so you would not want Brown to chase Butler over screens and give Butler an advantage going downhill. So there is no reason for Kemba to get switched on to him in the halfcourt unless they don't hustle back in transition or get lazy in the halfcourt (which won't happen in an ECFs)

Kemba will be guarding Duncan Robinson on the perimeter. Kemba's size and quickness to go over/avoid screens will be helpful in denying/challenging Duncan's 3PAs (yes DR's size advantage, but Kemba will challenge his setup/airspace).

Miami is a pretty good match-up for the Cs, if they had a healthy GH I'd say C's in 5 but expect it to be the Celts in 6 or 7 games
 
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lovegtm

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Here's the video of Bam in that August 4th game:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVp2WikVlcM


Theis only fouled him once, gave up one basket, and forced a couple of misses. Bam against Theis in the post is pretty clearly a bad matchup for Miami, and that was with the Celtics playing very uninspired team defense.

Jaylen also held up well against Bam in the post.

The more worrying part was the seals that Bam got against smaller guys, and he abused Tatum too. Miami is going to have to do a fair amount of work to engineer advantageous Bam spots, but there are some there, and it's an area of concern. However, this is not a Joel Embiid situation: the Celtics primary Bam defenders were basically fine against him.

Everyone wants to do the "omg the Celtics are so small and have no interior defense" meme, and it's simply not the case against anyone who is not a loveable giant from Cameroon.

What am I most worried about in this series?
- Celtics handling the zone
- Celtics offense getting bogged down against the "Bam at the 5, Iggy+Crowder, switch everything" lineups.
 
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HomeRunBaker

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Wouldn't 90% of NBA team's top scorer want to hunt Kemba in the halfcourt?

Jaylen Brown will guard Butler in the halfcourt. Jaylen will go under screens on Jimmy since he's a low volume/terrible 3pt shooter. Butler is also excellent at drawing/hitting FTs so you would not want Brown to chase Butler over screens and give Butler an advantage going downhill. So there is no reason for Kemba to get switched on to him in the halfcourt unless they don't hustle back in transition or get lazy in the halfcourt (which won't happen in an ECFs)

Kemba will be guarding Duncan Robinson on the perimeter. Kemba's size and quickness to go over/avoid screens will be helpful in denying/challenging Duncan's 3PAs (yes DR's size advantage, but Kemba will challenge his setup/airspace).
Small sample and all but Butler has gone from a 24% 3-pt shooter during the regular season to hitting 9-18 in the bubble during the playoffs. Bubble shooting is much different for many players due to the great disparity in depth perception and sight lines down in Orlando.

In theory, it sounds so simple for Kemba to go over screens however this would play right into Miami’s hands as it would give the ballhandler angles off the dribble. This forces help which leads to shooters being open for 3. I expect Spo to target Kemba repeatedly to create mismatches as he is the guy the Heat want both defending the dribble as well as closing out on all of their perimater

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Kemba losing minutes this series to Wanamaker or a Smart/Hayward backcount if the latter returns.
 

tbrown_01923

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It wouldn’t surprise me to see Kemba losing minutes this series to Wanamaker or a Smart/Hayward backcount if the latter returns.
I was going to challenge this, because my head tells me that kemba should benefit offensively from playing Miami. But the track record is a bit of a mixed bag, with his best performance back in december. The second game he didn't shoot well from three, but was otherwise okay. The last game in august was more "blah"... without doing a deeper dive into how his running mates were playing, I wonder if you are right.

Wannamaker / Smart could exert a lot of pressure on Miami's (relatively) inexperienced backcourt...
 

CreightonGubanich

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I'm still going to challenge it; a healthy Kemba Walker isn't going to lose minutes to Brad Wanamaker. And while, if everyone is healthy, I think we could see stretches where Smart plays with the starters, I don't think it'll materially decrease Kemba's minutes.

I don't buy that Jimmy Butler has magically become a good three point shooter in the bubble. He shot 24% from three this year, which probably is a bit of an outlier as well. For his career, he's at 33%. I'd go under screens against Butler all day and let him launch over the screen. That's not how Miami wants to play on offense; they want to move the ball, attack the interior of the defense, and generate open looks for their best shooters. I think the C's need to dial down the switching in this series, keep Butler and Dragic out of the paint, and live with some of those Butler threes, even if they're going in.

I do think that Miami will pick on Kemba on offense, especially if they can get him switched onto Butler. I'm still way less concerned with that, given the rest of the Celtics' defense, than I would be about Kemba picking on guys like Goran Dragic or Duncan Robinson, if I were a Heat fan. Said differently, the matchup problems that Kemba gives the Heat on offense far outweigh his defensive limitations.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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What am I most worried about in this series?
- Celtics handling the zone
- Celtics offense getting bogged down against the "Bam at the 5, Iggy+Crowder, switch everything" lineups.
Interesting zone stats here: https://fansided.com/2020/09/14/nba-playoffs-2020-4-biggest-questions-eastern-conference-finals/

Teams played zone against the Celtics fairly often during the regular season. They saw 289 possessions of zone defense, fourth-most of any team in the league, per Second Spectrum. Among the 20 teams that faced at least 100 possessions of zone, Boston ranked ninth in offensive rating, and a peak further under the hood reveals their quantified shot quality (qSQ: Second Spectrum’s metric for expected effective field goal percentage) ranked eighth.
But the Celtics struggled pretty badly with the Raptors’ zone defenses in the last round. Toronto utilized a zone on 80 defensive possessions, per Second Spectrum, with the Celtics scoring only 65 total points on those plays. The zone helped the Raps force the Celtics to go deeper into the shot clock than usual, with possessions lasting an average of 17.4 seconds, compared to 15.7 on non-zone possessions and 14.5 during the regular season on the whole.
Which team used zone defenses more than any other during the regular season? The Heat, who did so on 11.1 percent of their defensive possessions. They also employed it quite often against the Celtics. Though the Heat didn’t use their zone at all in the first matchup between the two teams, they threw it out there for 28 possessions in the second matchup and 33 possessions in the third. The Celtics did not manufacture particularly good shots against Miami’s zone in those games, and it would not be surprising if Spo turned to it quite often during this series.