What's the point? Celtics guard gap and offseason options.

Lazy vs Crazy

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It's pretty clear that, in these Finals, the weak spot on the Celtics was guard play. Smart was just OK, White was a disaster, and PP was somehow even worse. Not having a floor general/distributor forced the Jays to ball handle too much, and caused roughly one billion turnovers. The guard spot needs to be upgraded, at some level.

The options I can see are:

1. Stay where you are, and trust that Smart will improve in his second year as point guard and that White's collapse was just a blip.
2. Get a bench guard who can come in and direct things when one of the Jays sits so the offense does not go stagnant when they are out.
3. Get a starting guard, slide Marcus to the 2.
4. Trade Smart, let White or a new acquisition start.
EDIT:
5. Actually they don't need a point guard, just sign another wing player instead.

So who are our options? The trade market is pretty dire, and the team cannot afford a high-end guy because they only have the mini-MLE to spend in free agency.

1. Ricky Rubio, coming off of an ACL tear. If he is close to the same guy he was last year, he would be great, but his health is a huge question. Not clear how much he will get paid.
2. Yam Madar, who they have control of if they want to bring him over. Not clear if he's an NBA player.
3. Eric Bledsoe. Barf.
4. Goran Dragic, who showed a little in the Brooklyn series, but not much. May hate Boston?
5. Rajon Rondo, who is old, and has pending gun charges. Probably a hard no at this point.
6. John Wall on a buyout, it is not clear if he is completely cooked or if he could contribute. Would likely demand to start.

So not a great set of guys out there. How do you solve the point guard problem? What are the fake trades we can come up with? If anyone suggest Mike Conley's disaster contract I will jump off a bridge.
 
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jsinger121

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Here is a fake trade that works in the ESPN trade machine.

Marcus Smart, Al Horford, Grant Williams to Portland for Damien Lillard. I would also throw in at least two first round picks as well.
 

NomarsFool

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6. John Wall on a buyout, it is not clear if he is completely cooked or if he could contribute. Would likely demand to start.
The guy hasn't played in forever, I wouldn't see him demanding to start. I'm sure he'd want to go somewhere where he'd have an opportunity to get significant minutes - but I would have to assume he's somewhat realistic as well.
 

BigSoxFan

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Here is a fake trade that works in the ESPN trade machine.

Marcus Smart, Al Horford, Grant Williams to Portland for Damien Lillard. I would also throw in at least two first round picks as well.
Lillard and Brogdon remain the most obvious "splash" targets. I can't imagine Lillard is realistic for many reasons but wonder if Brogdon is a realistic option. Would obviously require Smart or White going the other way so we can debate if that makes sense. But Brodgon is the guy I'm most focused on.
 

NomarsFool

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1. Ricky Rubio, coming off of an ACL tear. If he is close to the same guy he was last year, he would be great, but his health is a huge question. Not clear how much he will get paid.
He's the ideal profile, isn't he? At some point, you just need to also take some risks on the medical front when you don't have other options.
 

CreightonGubanich

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Weren't we all just praising Brad Stevens for believing in Marcus Smart as the point guard, and pointing to his return as the catalyst for the midseason turnaround? I get that what we just saw was rough, but I really don't think Marcus Smart, starting point guard, is the problem. The guard stable of Smart, White and Pritchard, on the other hand, probably needs to be improved on.

The problem is how to improve it without breaking the defense. Any of the guys mentioned above in the OP, unless they're just taking the Pritchard minutes, are going to make the team materially worse defensively. Plus, the key to the switching defense they played all season is having a big, strong guy like Smart at the point. Swap him out for a smaller, more traditional point guard, and the entire defensive system collapses like a house of cards.

I actually think the problem is lack of wing depth. Their theoretical 9-man rotation (they were only really playing 7.5 in the playoffs) does not include a single wing off the bench: Grant, Theis, White and Pritchard. You could quibble with that assertion, I suppose; White is a big guard who's versatile defensively, and Grant moves his feet pretty well for a big guy. But White can get picked on by those 6'7" guys, and Grant can't really put the ball on the floor except to attack closeouts. One more elite, 3-and-D wing, like a Saddiq Bey type, would be huge for this team, and it would let them play small a lot more often, putting three wings on the floor rather than Grant or White with Tatum and Brown.

The missing piece of this team is their Andrew Wiggins/James Posey. Swapping out Smart for a bad defender, even if it's a star like Lillard (not saying I wouldn't make that trade), undoes everything they built this team around defensively. I can't see them doing it. They're all in Smart/Brown/Tatum/Timelord/White. They need to add shooting around them without destroying the defense.
 

lexrageorge

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There should be plenty of options and ring chasers beyond John Wall and Rajon Rondo to upgrade the bench rotation of Grant/Pritchard/Theis. Especially with a $17M trade exception that is ready to come off the books. Disagree that the trade market is dire; Stevens was hired to do better than late career Ainge, and so we should set our sights much higher than washed up vets.
 

EL Jeffe

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I think overreacting to a couple of Finals games is a really bad idea. We have enough seasons of data on White to know he's a good player; no one was complaining about him after Game One, that's for sure. Pritchard is a role player who got cold at a bad time. He is what he is, and he's represented perfectly fine value for where he was drafted.

In terms of the overall premise of the thread, The Jays are going to continue to handle the ball and the offense is quite often going to run through them. They are elite wings, and elite wings get high usage rates. The bigger issue was not having a bench wing to sub in for them. They either had to go small, or big with Grant (who was just as awful as the guards the past few games). This is where Nesmith's potential development could really help the team take a step forward. He plays with energy but he has to be able to shoot like he was supposed to and make quality basketball IQ plays. I'm not hiolding my breath on Nesmith though and I'd expext Brad tries to really focus more on adding a solid rotational wing this offseason over acquiring some sort of higher usage PG type (which barely exist these days as it is).
 

ragnarok725

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This feels like an overreaction to getting beat by the best PG in history. The big PG approach is an absolute key to the defensive identity of the Celtics. The trade for White solidified the direction they're going in here.
1. Ricky Rubio, coming off of an ACL tear. If he is close to the same guy he was last year, he would be great, but his health is a huge question. Not clear how much he will get paid.
2. Yam Madar, who they have control of if they want to bring him over. Not clear if he's an NBA player.
3. Eric Bledsoe. Barf.
4. Goran Dragic, who showed a little in the Brooklyn series, but not much. May hate Boston?
5. Rajon Rondo, who is old, and has pending gun charges. Probably a hard no at this point.
6. John Wall on a buyout, it is not clear if he is completely cooked or if he could contribute. Would likely demand to start.
None of these guys can hold up on defense in the Celtics scheme. They'd need to abandon switch everything, which definitely hurts the team more than whatever marginal offensive upgrade they represent.

Finding someone who can play defense on the level of Smart and White, but is a bigger plus offensively is basically looking at max players. Someone like Lonzo would be the big fish that could make this team go, but there's probably no way to pry him loose from Chicago.

I think you run it back with Smart/White/Pritchard and target a player who can slot into Horford's role (or behind Williams). The biggest weak link in the defense in the finals was 100% Al Horford. He was targeted mercilessly by Steph, and is the one hole in the switch everything scheme. His aging isn't going to improve that. Upgrade the Theis position on the roster, expect growth from the Jays+Grant+PP, plan for decline for Horford, and run it back.
 

lexrageorge

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Grant Wiliams will be 24 next season; Pritchard will be 25. Physically, they are what they are. Fine for a team that needs some regular season and early playoff minutes from the bench. But I have to believe there are better options available for a team looking to compete for a title. The Warriors bench certainly had better players than both.
 

BigSoxFan

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This feels like an overreaction to getting beat by the best PG in history. The big PG approach is an absolute key to the defensive identity of the Celtics. The trade for White solidified the direction they're going in here.

None of these guys can hold up on defense in the Celtics scheme. They'd need to abandon switch everything, which definitely hurts the team more than whatever marginal offensive upgrade they represent.

Finding someone who can play defense on the level of Smart and White, but is a bigger plus offensively is basically looking at max players. Someone like Lonzo would be the big fish that could make this team go, but there's probably no way to pry him loose from Chicago.

I think you run it back with Smart/White/Pritchard and target a player who can slot into Horford's role (or behind Williams). The biggest weak link in the defense in the finals was 100% Al Horford. He was targeted mercilessly by Steph, and is the one hole in the switch everything scheme. His aging isn't going to improve that. Upgrade the Theis position on the roster, expect growth from the Jays+Grant+PP, plan for decline for Horford, and run it back.
Not sure it’s an overreaction. The Celtics committed 55 turnovers over their last 3 games. A good PG would likely help there by getting players in better spots and reducing the reliance on 2 poor ball handlers in Tatum and Brown to do everything. Chances are Smart and White are coming back but I think it’s worth exploring.

But I agree there are other more pressing needs.
 

ragnarok725

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Not sure it’s an overreaction. The Celtics committed 55 turnovers over their last 3 games. A good PG would likely help there by getting players in better spots and reducing the reliance on 2 poor ball handlers in Tatum and Brown to do everything. Chances are Smart and White are coming back but I think it’s worth exploring.

But I agree there are other more pressing needs.
I think this team goes as the Jays go. If they can't tighten up their ball handling and limit the TOs, then this is their peak, and you have to hope it works out. But taking the ball out of their hands, or making them play more off ball, is not how the Cs operate, and it diminishes the value of your best assets. The TOs have to go away through improvement and work.

I don't think going out to the market to try to find a unicorn defensive stalwart excellent distributor and then changing the offensive scheme to fit them is the right reaction to this season of performance.
 

Jeff Van GULLY

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Marcus Smart was not the problem. He helped get the Celtics to the finals. This is an overreaction to the last couple of games.

White was mostly mediocre during the regular seasons after being acquired. He got hot in the playoffs and then reverted back to regular season form the last few games. I'm not sold on White but as the backup PG, he's fine I guess? I wouldn't mind him being moved for something better, if that's possible, but I'm not so sure.

I'm not of the belief that the Celtics are going to do a whole lot of changes to their roster this summer. Get everyone healthy and see how they play the first half of the season. If it's not working, Horford+ will be on the table by the deadline.
 

NomarsFool

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One thing that will be key is that the team needs to take it easy the first half of next season. It's going to be a dramatically shortened off-season for them, and I think running playoff rotations for so much of the season - while it probably helped with Tatum/Brown's development - definitely left them gassed at the end. I think at a minimum we need to see Horford and Williams alternating games for a bit and just live with what Theis gives them.

Maybe they also just need to see what Nesmith can do with some regular minutes the first half of the season.
 

BigSoxFan

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I think this team goes as the Jays go. If they can't tighten up their ball handling and limit the TOs, then this is their peak, and you have to hope it works out. But taking the ball out of their hands, or making them play more off ball, is not how the Cs operate, and it diminishes the value of your best assets. The TOs have to go away through improvement and work.

I don't think going out to the market to try to find a unicorn defensive stalwart excellent distributor and then changing the offensive scheme to fit them is the right reaction to this season of performance.
I think it’s a natural give and take. You sacrifice some defense for hopefully better offense. A guy like Brogdon remains intriguing to me.
 

CoffeeNerdness

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A reminder that Marcus badly sprained his ankle less than 30 days ago.

“The ankle, pretty serious injury,” Smart unveiled to reporters on Wednesday. “I'm thankful to be able to play, let alone still be walking. It hurt, but my mom always told me, if you are going to be on the court, you can't make excuses. If you're hurt, then sit your tail down. If I'm going to be out there, no matter how much pain I'm in, I can't let it affect me.”
This series is much different with a fully healthy DPOY and TL. Agree that they need a reliable scoring threat at the wing who can take some of the pressure off JT and JB. Grant seems like a fine regular season player, but proved to be quite useless in the playoffs outside of the series where a coach lost his mind and decided that leaving a good three-point shooter wide open was the plan.
 

lexrageorge

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Teams don't stay still and return the exact same roster the following year anymore. Golden State didn't, and they are unlikely to stay still this offseason. That doesn't mean Smart will be traded, but there will be changes. They will likely be at the margins, but Stevens is not the type to let a $17M TPE expire unused while failing to fix a team that does have some weaknesses outside of a bad series by Tatum.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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Weren't we all just praising Brad Stevens for believing in Marcus Smart as the point guard, and pointing to his return as the catalyst for the midseason turnaround? I get that what we just saw was rough, but I really don't think Marcus Smart, starting point guard, is the problem. The guard stable of Smart, White and Pritchard, on the other hand, probably needs to be improved on.

The problem is how to improve it without breaking the defense. Any of the guys mentioned above in the OP, unless they're just taking the Pritchard minutes, are going to make the team materially worse defensively. Plus, the key to the switching defense they played all season is having a big, strong guy like Smart at the point. Swap him out for a smaller, more traditional point guard, and the entire defensive system collapses like a house of cards.

I actually think the problem is lack of wing depth. Their theoretical 9-man rotation (they were only really playing 7.5 in the playoffs) does not include a single wing off the bench: Grant, Theis, White and Pritchard. You could quibble with that assertion, I suppose; White is a big guard who's versatile defensively, and Grant moves his feet pretty well for a big guy. But White can get picked on by those 6'7" guys, and Grant can't really put the ball on the floor except to attack closeouts. One more elite, 3-and-D wing, like a Saddiq Bey type, would be huge for this team, and it would let them play small a lot more often, putting three wings on the floor rather than Grant or White with Tatum and Brown.

The missing piece of this team is their Andrew Wiggins/James Posey. Swapping out Smart for a bad defender, even if it's a star like Lillard (not saying I wouldn't make that trade), undoes everything they built this team around defensively. I can't see them doing it. They're all in Smart/Brown/Tatum/Timelord/White. They need to add shooting around them without destroying the defense.
I think this is right. While it's awesome that their 2-guard small lineups can still be great defensively, it puts a lot of strain on Tatum and Brown to be the primary creators surrounded by iffy shooters. So if you can get that 3 and D wing to fill those lineups instead, I think you really open things up a bit without really losing ball-handling or D.

We can talk about getting a better floor general but a massive part of why the Celtics exploded this year offensively is that everyone knew where they stood. Injecting more ball dominance into the mix again is a risk, depending on the player of course.

If I'm Brad I am looking to find the next Jae Crowder as one of my top priorities this summer.
 

Mooch

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I'd like to see a backup PG with more shooting range and less turnover prone. A guy like Tyus Jones would make a TON of sense for this team.
 

bosockboy

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Teams don't stay still and return the exact same roster the following year anymore. Golden State didn't, and they are unlikely to stay still this offseason. That doesn't mean Smart will be traded, but there will be changes. They will likely be at the margins, but Stevens is not the type to let a $17M TPE expire unused while failing to fix a team that does have some weaknesses outside of a bad series by Tatum.
And I’d expect Beale or Mitchell to land in Miami. Have to keep improving.
 

BigSoxFan

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I think this is right. While it's awesome that their 2-guard small lineups can still be great defensively, it puts a lot of strain on Tatum and Brown to be the primary creators surrounded by iffy shooters. So if you can get that 3 and D wing to fill those lineups instead, I think you really open things up a bit without really losing ball-handling or D.

We can talk about getting a better floor general but a massive part of why the Celtics exploded this year offensively is that everyone knew where they stood. Injecting more ball dominance into the mix again is a risk, depending on the player of course.

If I'm Brad I am looking to find the next Jae Crowder as one of my top priorities this summer.
Nesmith over Saddiq Bey kind of stings right about now.
 

Mooch

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And I’d expect Beale or Mitchell to land in Miami. Have to keep improving.
I don't see how the Heat could add that kind of payroll. They've got the same cap number as the Celtics and have a very tough decision coming up with Herro. Unless they plan on blowing up the current roster, they're not getting either of those guys.
 

bosockboy

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Maybe not exactly him, but a Bojan Bogdanovic would be an absolute perfect bench piece to give them a reliable additional scorer. If we can add that and a ball handler we’d be in great shape.
 

Rusty Gate

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If Rubio has anything left, he seems like the perfect fit. He definitely has the defensive know-how to play in an aggressive, switching defense. He also would be able to work himself into shape over the regular season, and if he returns to anything close to his former self, he can be 20-25 mpg third guard in the playoffs. Seems like a risk worth taking.
 

Mooch

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If Rubio has anything left, he seems like the perfect fit. He definitely has the defensive know-how to play in an aggressive, switching defense. He also would be able to work himself into shape over the regular season, and if he returns to anything close to his former self, he can be 20-25 mpg third guard in the playoffs. Seems like a risk worth taking.
I thought we were trying to get LESS turnover prone. Rubio makes Marcus look careful with the ball. Hard pass from me.
 

Eddie Jurak

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Here is a fake trade that works in the ESPN trade machine.

Marcus Smart, Al Horford, Grant Williams to Portland for Damien Lillard. I would also throw in at least two first round picks as well.
That turns the Celtics back into a team whose defense is limited by having one player who can always be hunted. Pass.
Weren't we all just praising Brad Stevens for believing in Marcus Smart as the point guard, and pointing to his return as the catalyst for the midseason turnaround? I get that what we just saw was rough, but I really don't think Marcus Smart, starting point guard, is the problem. The guard stable of Smart, White and Pritchard, on the other hand, probably needs to be improved on.
Especially with the short offseason, they need a 10 or 11 man regular season rotation. That means the team needs to add more talent, not swap it out, as @DeJesus Built M y Hotrod said somewhere. Other than the starters and White, who are either off limits or would require a high price in return, I'd be open to dealing anyone else in our current top 11 (Grant, Pritchard, Theis, Nesmith, Hauser). But they need to be deeper, not just upgrade at the backup PG or whatever.
Not sure it’s an overreaction. The Celtics committed 55 turnovers over their last 3 games. A good PG would likely help there by getting players in better spots and reducing the reliance on 2 poor ball handlers in Tatum and Brown to do everything. Chances are Smart and White are coming back but I think it’s worth exploring.
They got to the finals with an injured Smart, White, and Pritchard at PG, so I think any sort of ultimatum to get rid of Smart or White is an overreaction. They need better bench depth, for sure, but I think the lead guys, and the team as a whole, can figure things out and get better.
 

BigSoxFan

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They got to the finals with an injured Smart, White, and Pritchard at PG, so I think any sort of ultimatum to get rid of Smart or White is an overreaction. They need better bench depth, for sure, but I think the lead guys, and the team as a whole, can figure things out and get better.
I mean, nobody is giving an ultimatum outside of maybe some heat-of-the-moment posts last night and I think it's perfectly fine to question whether a current group that falls short is the right group...until they actually win it all. Marcus Smart will never be untradeable to me. You'll need a compelling reason to trade him, and the odds are quite low they do, but I'll never take that option off of the table. Ditto for White. It is certainly possible that this group figures it out and wins it all. It's also possible that they don't. The good thing is that Brad won't ever be complacent.
 

EL Jeffe

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This discussion still seems a little weird to me. Which middling-level or completely washed PG do you want taking the ball out of the hands of JB or JT, and why exactly? I get the turnover aspect, and they can and should work on limiting them, but turnovers are part of the cost of doing business of having the ball in your hands a lot. And you want the ball in the hands of your best players, particularly when they're wings.
 

4 6 3 DP

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It would seem to me that instead of looking at this as what you do with Marcus - and Im not sure this is the thread for it, is that on offense, they need someone other than Tatum that can create offense as the primary ballhandler. Brown doesn't have the handle or the passing game to do that, and Marcus is willing, but his judgement is all over the place in that role. Ultimately, if Brown and Tatum are the wings, you either need a point forward or a point guard who can do it. Derrick White can handle the passing side of it, but he's not a good enough shooter/scorer to be a credible offensive creator close and late in the playoffs.

As some has said, if they had a 3 and D guy who could make defenses pay for doubling the Jays, that probably would mask the handle issues of Brown somewhat as long as his vision improves, but ultimately the question is can you get someone who improves on Marcus as a source of offensive creation in crunch time that's a good enough defender to be out there credibly. I realize I am just asking questions and solving nothing but that feels like the issue.
 

4 6 3 DP

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This discussion still seems a little weird to me. Which middling-level or completely washed PG do you want taking the ball out of the hands of JB or JT, and why exactly? I get the turnover aspect, and they can and should work on limiting them, but turnovers are part of the cost of doing business of having the ball in your hands a lot. And you want the ball in the hands of your best players, particularly when they're wings.
The idea in my mind is that you don't want JB trying to create his own offense as much. He's got a mediocre handle, doesn't pass particularly well, and dribbles with his head down. I want JB on the break or taking advantage of good ball movement to beat a defender 1on1 and get to the rim. Take advantage of his strengths and minimize the weakness.
 

Swedgin

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This feels like an overreaction to getting beat by the best PG in history. The big PG approach is an absolute key to the defensive identity of the Celtics. The trade for White solidified the direction they're going in here.

None of these guys can hold up on defense in the Celtics scheme. They'd need to abandon switch everything, which definitely hurts the team more than whatever marginal offensive upgrade they represent.

Finding someone who can play defense on the level of Smart and White, but is a bigger plus offensively is basically looking at max players. Someone like Lonzo would be the big fish that could make this team go, but there's probably no way to pry him loose from Chicago.

I think you run it back with Smart/White/Pritchard and target a player who can slot into Horford's role (or behind Williams). The biggest weak link in the defense in the finals was 100% Al Horford. He was targeted mercilessly by Steph, and is the one hole in the switch everything scheme. His aging isn't going to improve that. Upgrade the Theis position on the roster, expect growth from the Jays+Grant+PP, plan for decline for Horford, and run it back.
While another three and D wing would be great, guys who actually check both boxes and could play in the Celtics scheme are in short supply and are not likely to be available for what the C's can offer. Take a look at the FA wings - it is pretty bleak.

https://theathletic.com/3362802/2022/06/15/nba-free-agent-small-forwards/

Even if they had won a title, I would still be in favor of option 2. There were far too many (long) stretches where the offense completely broke down. Having a steady hand who can settle things down, run your sets and get you a couple of easy buckets, hit the occasional 3, would really help this team. Other than Rubio, not a fan of the others mentioned by OP. Raul Neto historically has been a decent shooter (no idea what happened last year) and a solid defender. I would love to add Tyus Jones, but I have to think he will have better offers.

As to Horford - this is the overreaction. Who else other than Steph has the range and handle to run pick and roll that far above the three point line, and how many other centers in the league can effectively switch on those plays. I agree Steph is a bad matchup for Al, but that's due to his greatness, not because Al is especially lead footed for a 5.
 

ragnarok725

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While another three and D wing would be great, guys who actually check both boxes and could play in the Celtics scheme are in short supply and are not likely to be available for what the C's can offer. Take a look at the FA wings - it is pretty bleak.

https://theathletic.com/3362802/2022/06/15/nba-free-agent-small-forwards/

Even if they had won a title, I would still be in favor of option 2. There were far too many (long) stretches where the offense completely broke down. Having a steady hand who can settle things down, run your sets and get you a couple of easy buckets, hit the occasional 3, would really help this team. Other than Rubio, not a fan of the others mentioned by OP. Raul Neto historically has been a decent shooter (no idea what happened last year) and a solid defender. I would love to add Tyus Jones, but I have to think he will have better offers.

As to Horford - this is the overreaction. Who else other than Steph has the range and handle to run pick and roll that far above the three point line, and how many other centers in the league can effectively switch on those plays. I agree Steph is a bad matchup for Al, but that's due to his greatness, not because Al is especially lead footed for a 5.
That's fair - the matchup is probably the worst in the league for Al. But I think it's a window into the future. He's going to lose some of his quickness, and it won't be long before my pedestrian players are making Al look as bad as Steph did.

I think most of the Celtics upside resides in the players that are on the roster continuing to improve or even make leaps. Al is the one guy who we should be reasonably expecting to decline (and is also on the final year of his contract), and therefore the most immediate area for the Cs to address via trades or FA. Those options look hideous, but Brad has been creative and ambitious in his moves thus far, and I think he can find something that will fit there.
 

OnTheBlack

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This team was special because of the no weak links on D. It created outsized defensive value. You would need a pretty special offensive player to throw that away as the defense is only as strong as it’s weakest link in the playoffs where mismatches are hunted. Plus the player would ultimately be taking shots away from Tatum and brown.

Don’t break up what got you here - the D. If you can find a way to add ball-handling and playmaking to the team you do it, as it’s complimentary to the wings. Someone who won’t turn the ball over and get the ball to wings in attacking positions for easier buckets and less ball handling. Now - that’s a tall task while still expecting good D from this player. Smart is almost that guy - but isn’t quite the ball handler/playmaker to be this teams facilitator.
 

nighthob

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Nesmith over Saddiq Bey kind of stings right about now.
Yeah, if they’d picked Bey they probably would be making Duck Boat plans about now. A big wing to competently play high leverage defensive minutes instead of Tatum would have absorbed enough of the physical burden to leave Tatum fresh for the playoffs. When you look at the minutes he’s played the last two years combined with his offensive role and his defensive one as the big wing stopper his performance becomes even more unreal.

Boston should still keep an eye on the Pistons as they’ve been linked to Keegan Murray in the draft, and Murray is, more or less, Bey (with a little more upside due to athleticism). So a deal for Bey could be within the realm of possibility.
 

BaseballJones

ivanvamp
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
18,862
Boston's playoff opponents' offense in the regular season vs. what they did vs. Boston in the playoffs...

Brooklyn
- Reg season: 112.9 points, .475 FG
- vs Boston: 109.0 points, .503 FG

Milwaukee
- Reg season: 115.5 points, .468 FG
- vs Boston: 97.7 points, .414 FG

Miami
- Reg season: 110.0 points, .467 FG
- vs Boston: 99.7 points, .416 FG

Golden State
- Reg season: 111.0 points, .469 FG
- vs Boston: 104.8 points, .446 FG

So other than Brooklyn's excellent shooting, Boston held every opponent below their norms in both points and shooting percentage. The defense was outstanding all playoffs long. The offense - particularly the turnovers - was the problem.

In their losses, they cost themselves a half dozen shot opportunities a game compared to their opponents. At a scoring efficiency of about 1.22 points per field goal attempt (that was the rate in the finals), those half dozen shot opportunities translate into about 7 points a game. Not to mention that many of those turnovers were live ball turnovers that led to easy transition points for opponents.

I don't want to boil it down to this because there's more to it, but honestly...if they just take care of the ball and make sure they get those half dozen shot opportunities, their offense looks a LOT better, AND it helps the defense too.

I don't frankly know how they fix that, other than their offense needs to be smarter and their players need to value the ball more.
 

tims4wins

PN23's replacement
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
31,848
Hingham, MA
Boston's playoff opponents' offense in the regular season vs. what they did vs. Boston in the playoffs...

Brooklyn
- Reg season: 112.9 points, .475 FG
- vs Boston: 109.0 points, .503 FG

Milwaukee
- Reg season: 115.5 points, .468 FG
- vs Boston: 97.7 points, .414 FG

Miami
- Reg season: 110.0 points, .467 FG
- vs Boston: 99.7 points, .416 FG

Golden State
- Reg season: 111.0 points, .469 FG
- vs Boston: 104.8 points, .446 FG

So other than Brooklyn's excellent shooting, Boston held every opponent below their norms in both points and shooting percentage. The defense was outstanding all playoffs long. The offense - particularly the turnovers - was the problem.

In their losses, they cost themselves a half dozen shot opportunities a game compared to their opponents. At a scoring efficiency of about 1.22 points per field goal attempt (that was the rate in the finals), those half dozen shot opportunities translate into about 7 points a game. Not to mention that many of those turnovers were live ball turnovers that led to easy transition points for opponents.

I don't want to boil it down to this because there's more to it, but honestly...if they just take care of the ball and make sure they get those half dozen shot opportunities, their offense looks a LOT better, AND it helps the defense too.

I don't frankly know how they fix that, other than their offense needs to be smarter and their players need to value the ball more.
Good stuff. One note on the Brooklyn series: Rob didn't play the first three games.
 

Spelunker

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 17, 2005
9,611
Boston's playoff opponents' offense in the regular season vs. what they did vs. Boston in the playoffs...

Brooklyn
- Reg season: 112.9 points, .475 FG
- vs Boston: 109.0 points, .503 FG

Milwaukee
- Reg season: 115.5 points, .468 FG
- vs Boston: 97.7 points, .414 FG

Miami
- Reg season: 110.0 points, .467 FG
- vs Boston: 99.7 points, .416 FG

Golden State
- Reg season: 111.0 points, .469 FG
- vs Boston: 104.8 points, .446 FG

So other than Brooklyn's excellent shooting, Boston held every opponent below their norms in both points and shooting percentage. The defense was outstanding all playoffs long. The offense - particularly the turnovers - was the problem.

In their losses, they cost themselves a half dozen shot opportunities a game compared to their opponents. At a scoring efficiency of about 1.22 points per field goal attempt (that was the rate in the finals), those half dozen shot opportunities translate into about 7 points a game. Not to mention that many of those turnovers were live ball turnovers that led to easy transition points for opponents.

I don't want to boil it down to this because there's more to it, but honestly...if they just take care of the ball and make sure they get those half dozen shot opportunities, their offense looks a LOT better, AND it helps the defense too.

I don't frankly know how they fix that, other than their offense needs to be smarter and their players need to value the ball more.
And- we all know this, but to state it bluntly- even the problems with the defense were really problems with the offense. When you break it down by half court vs transition D (never mind transitions off of live ball turnovers) the difference is stark.

Better ball protection on offense makes the defense that much better, by giving them a chance to do what they do best
 

HomeRunBaker

bet squelcher
SoSH Member
Jan 15, 2004
25,499
I think overreacting to a couple of Finals games is a really bad idea. We have enough seasons of data on White to know he's a good player; no one was complaining about him after Game One, that's for sure. Pritchard is a role player who got cold at a bad time. He is what he is, and he's represented perfectly fine value for where he was drafted.

In terms of the overall premise of the thread, The Jays are going to continue to handle the ball and the offense is quite often going to run through them. They are elite wings, and elite wings get high usage rates. The bigger issue was not having a bench wing to sub in for them.
Is it an overreaction when you are exposed in The Finals for 7 consecutive games or did this show an obvious hole in our roster structure that the Warriors attacked?

The Jays absolutely will handle the ball and the offense will run through them……which is far different than expending Tatum’s energy bringing the ball upcourt vs pressure before the set even begins. When Tatum is forced to be our primary ball handler and initiator 35-feet from the basket it allows the help defense to react/hedge to the play in front of them rather than having the initiator, presumably our PG, get Tatum the ball in the far more dangerous triple-threat position at his desired spot on the floor.

What’s the goal? Smart showed fine during the regular season as The Jays took pressure off him initiating the offense prior to the White trade but now that the Warriors gave the league a blueprint for how to attack our predictable offense in the post-season it would be negligent to simply do nothing to address this exposed flaw moving forward. The guy getting killed in the media for this is Tatum and it simply isn’t fair to him after being put in a position to fail in that role.
 

HomeRunBaker

bet squelcher
SoSH Member
Jan 15, 2004
25,499
Boston's playoff opponents' offense in the regular season vs. what they did vs. Boston in the playoffs...

Brooklyn
- Reg season: 112.9 points, .475 FG
- vs Boston: 109.0 points, .503 FG

Milwaukee
- Reg season: 115.5 points, .468 FG
- vs Boston: 97.7 points, .414 FG

Miami
- Reg season: 110.0 points, .467 FG
- vs Boston: 99.7 points, .416 FG

Golden State
- Reg season: 111.0 points, .469 FG
- vs Boston: 104.8 points, .446 FG

So other than Brooklyn's excellent shooting, Boston held every opponent below their norms in both points and shooting percentage. The defense was outstanding all playoffs long. The offense - particularly the turnovers - was the problem.

In their losses, they cost themselves a half dozen shot opportunities a game compared to their opponents. At a scoring efficiency of about 1.22 points per field goal attempt (that was the rate in the finals), those half dozen shot opportunities translate into about 7 points a game. Not to mention that many of those turnovers were live ball turnovers that led to easy transition points for opponents.
The second half of a playoff series is going to be lower scoring with slower pace and better defense on familiarity alone by all teams not only the Celtics……so those numbers do appear misleading as they represent more of the norm.


I don't want to boil it down to this because there's more to it, but honestly...if they just take care of the ball and make sure they get those half dozen shot opportunities, their offense looks a LOT better, AND it helps the defense too.

I don't frankly know how they fix that, other than their offense needs to be smarter and their players need to value the ball more.
It is extremely difficult if not impossible to fix in a playoff series with the same personnel. This isn’t a teachable skill it is a personnel/skillset issue. The tricky part is how to fix one problem (adding a capable initiator) without creating another (trading the heart and soul of their team in Smart).
 

128

Member
SoSH Member
May 4, 2019
7,995
Is it an overreaction when you are exposed in The Finals for 7 consecutive games or did this show an obvious hole in our roster structure that the Warriors attacked?

The Jays absolutely will handle the ball and the offense will run through them……which is far different than expending Tatum’s energy bringing the ball upcourt vs pressure before the set even begins. When Tatum is forced to be our primary ball handler and initiator 35-feet from the basket it allows the help defense to react/hedge to the play in front of them rather than having the initiator, presumably our PG, get Tatum the ball in the far more dangerous triple-threat position at his desired spot on the floor.

What’s the goal? Smart showed fine during the regular season as The Jays took pressure off him initiating the offense prior to the White trade but now that the Warriors gave the league a blueprint for how to attack our predictable offense in the post-season it would be negligent to simply do nothing to address this exposed flaw moving forward. The guy getting killed in the media for this is Tatum and it simply isn’t fair to him after being put in a position to fail in that role.
I like Tatum and I'm confident he'll figure most of this stuff out, but doesn't he bear some responsibility for his shortcoming in the Finals? You just trot out one after excuse after another for him: He has to bring the ball up, defenses are designed to stop him, he has to guard good players, etc., etc., etc.

All of those are factors, but other stars deal with such adversity, too, and still manage to produce in key moments. Without question, the C's would not have reached the Finals without Tatum's strong play, but he went out with a whimper with his Game 5 and 6 performances.
 

benhogan

Granite Truther
SoSH Member
Nov 2, 2007
15,817
Santa Monica
Hmmm... just finished playing the guard trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole.
One of the greatest PGs of all time, a 5X All-Star, and probably the most improved player in the NBA this season.
Those 3 combined to average 64.5ppg this season.

A perfect time to review the play of an injured Marcus Smart, a new Derrick White, and 2nd-year player Payton Pritchard.

Never mind that it's an incredibly SSS in a Finals where Steph/Klay have lived 6x before

Knee-jerk meets reaction.

The John Wall and Yam Madar suggestions did make me laugh so not a total loss
 
Last edited:

lexrageorge

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2007
15,599
I like Tatum and I'm confident he'll figure most of this stuff out, but doesn't he bear some responsibility for his shortcoming in the Finals? You just trot out one after excuse after another for him: He has to bring the ball up, defenses are designed to stop him, he has to guard good players, etc., etc., etc.

All of those are factors, but other stars deal with such adversity, too, and still manage to produce in key moments. Without question, the C's would not have reached the Finals without Tatum's strong play, but he went out with a whimper with his Game 5 and 6 performances.
IMHO, Tatum does bear some responsibility. He will need to learn to attack a tough 1-on-1 defender better if he wants to be consistently named to first team All-NBA. But he does not deserve to be given the entire blame for the loss or branded with the "soft" label (which is absurd).

But a big part of HRB's point is that Tatum, and to a lesser extent Brown, are being asked to do too much on both ends of the floor. I don't consider a 6 game Finals series to be a small sample of games; there were obvious Celtic weaknesses that the Warriors were able to exploit, including the complete lack of contribution from the bench. Those weaknesses don't just get magically solved by assuming Tatum/Brown will simply improve next season, and they will definitely not get solved by assuming Grant or Pritchard will somehow morph into something they are not. Returning the same exact roster (roster here means Top 8 or 9 players in the rotation) is not a recipe for getting back to the Finals. The Bucks, Sixers and Heat will all improve, as will some of the other Eastern Conference teams. And the top contenders will work to repeat some of the things that Golden State tried now that they are on film. Expecting Tatum to once again do everything he was asked to do this past season and playoff run will wear him out.

I don't see them trading Marcus, although I do think Stevens will listen if offers are made. But I do expect a better rotation player to be added via trade, and that player could be a distributor who can come in and help run the offense at those times when the Smart/Tatum/Brown combination is being stagnated.
 

HomeRunBaker

bet squelcher
SoSH Member
Jan 15, 2004
25,499
I like Tatum and I'm confident he'll figure most of this stuff out, but doesn't he bear some responsibility for his shortcoming in the Finals? You just trot out one after excuse after another for him: He has to bring the ball up, defenses are designed to stop him, he has to guard good players, etc., etc., etc.

All of those are factors, but other stars deal with such adversity, too, and still manage to produce in key moments. Without question, the C's would not have reached the Finals without Tatum's strong play, but he went out with a whimper with his Game 5 and 6 performances.
Between Steph and Jayson they put up 3 no-shows in their 4 starts over those two games. In the gambling thread I spoke of how the cross-country travels every other day could lead to these type of performances by both teams (as we easily cashed the Unders in both games!). So yeah, I guess I just gave Tatum another “excuse” but before people keep hammering him you should be able to recognize how stacked the deck was against him in these final few games and the series as a whole.
 

128

Member
SoSH Member
May 4, 2019
7,995
Between Steph and Jayson they put up 3 no-shows in their 4 starts over those two games. In the gambling thread I spoke of how the cross-country travels every other day could lead to these type of performances by both teams (as we easily cashed the Unders in both games!). So yeah, I guess I just gave Tatum another “excuse” but before people keep hammering him you should be able to recognize how stacked the deck was against him in these final few games and the series as a whole.
In Game 6, with the C's facing elimination, Tatum finished with 13 points and 3 rebounds in 40 minutes, missed 12 of 18 shots, and turned the ball over five times.

Does that mean he's not a superstar? No. But he's not immune to criticism, either. I have no doubt Tatum himself would say he had an awful game.
 

benhogan

Granite Truther
SoSH Member
Nov 2, 2007
15,817
Santa Monica
Between Steph and Jayson they put up 3 no-shows in their 4 starts over those two games. In the gambling thread I spoke of how the cross-country travels every other day could lead to these type of performances by both teams (as we easily cashed the Unders in both games!). So yeah, I guess I just gave Tatum another “excuse” but before people keep hammering him you should be able to recognize how stacked the deck was against him in these final few games and the series as a whole.
Yep, you warned everybody during these playoffs that Tatum's excessive use as a PG would "nub" him. I'm highly skeptical of Wiggins "lockdown" defender or Tatum being "soft". By the end JT couldn't even play through Steph or Bjelica. The tank was on E

IME drove the 24yr old Tatum car into the ground and he really had no choice. Part of the learning and growth process.

During the finals I was hoping IME would play through Horford at the top on offense, hoping that would cut down on the TOs & save JT... but that probably wouldn't have changed a thing.
 

sezwho

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
1,033
Isle of Plum
Yep, you warned everybody during these playoffs that Tatum's excessive use as a PG would "nub" him. I'm highly skeptical of Wiggins "lockdown" defender or Tatum being "soft". By the end JT couldn't even play through Steph or Bjelica. The tank was on E

IME drove the 24yr old Tatum car into the ground and he really had no choice. Part of the learning and growth process.

During the finals I was hoping IME would play through Horford at the top on offense, hoping that would cut down on the TOs & save JT... but that probably wouldn't have changed a thing.
Agree that the greatest culprit (not named Steph) seemed to be fatigue, both physical and mental, and that they only reach these heights by Ime pushing them to the limits.

Fwiw, the JT alarm bells were going off during the Miami series when he was occasionally matched up in space 1on1 against broken down Lowry at the top of the key. SSS yes, but he kept looking to pass instead of licking his chops and just driving to the hoop.
 

EL Jeffe

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 30, 2006
1,200
Is it an overreaction when you are exposed in The Finals for 7 consecutive games or did this show an obvious hole in our roster structure that the Warriors attacked?

...

What’s the goal? Smart showed fine during the regular season as The Jays took pressure off him initiating the offense prior to the White trade but now that the Warriors gave the league a blueprint for how to attack our predictable offense in the post-season it would be negligent to simply do nothing to address this exposed flaw moving forward. The guy getting killed in the media for this is Tatum and it simply isn’t fair to him after being put in a position to fail in that role.
I'm not advocating they do nothing and simply run it back with the same roster. They've got some TPEs and exceptions to try and plug some holes and fortify the roster. But do you (or anyone else) really expect them to get a better player out of any of them than White? Who and how? I also don't see them sacrificing their defensive identity (and switchability) to get some sort of throwback, pure PG who is just going to get exposed next playoff run on that end of the court. I don't want Sherman Douglas (i.e., DJ Augustin) walking through that door.

Totally agree that the Tatum crucifixion is absurd and unwarranted. He needed more help and pretty much everyone laid an egg at the same time; I still maintain that's more of a small sample size than a league blueprint. Grant was awesome in the playoffs...until the Finals. D White did his D White things, and then had a sh*tty run for a few games. Pritchard definitely had his moments up through Game 1 of the Finals, and then couldn't buy a bucket. It's not like these guys couldn't get shots off or anything; they missed some good looks they normally make. It happens; guys miss a few shots and then they start pressing and playing tight (particularly bench players). Had they made them, Boston very well may have won this in 6 instead of losing it in 6 and nobody would be talking about this stuff.

I give Kerr and the GSW credit for making more plays and having a good gameplan. But I don't see it as a blueprint; Milwaukee and Miami are also really well coached teams, with smart, veteran players who know what they're doing. Boston was able to knock down enough shots and make enough plays to get by them. Did Boston provide a blueprint for beating Milwaukee and Miami? Or were these just some hardfought series that often come down to a handful of plays and guys making shots?
 

HomeRunBaker

bet squelcher
SoSH Member
Jan 15, 2004
25,499
In Game 6, with the C's facing elimination, Tatum finished with 13 points and 3 rebounds in 40 minutes, missed 12 of 18 shots, and turned the ball over five times.

Does that mean he's not a superstar? No. But he's not immune to criticism, either. I have no doubt Tatum himself would say he had an awful game.
Nobody is saying that he didn’t have an awful game. I was laying out the challenges that he faced that the public and the media are discounting which were predictable as these were all known. The supporting cast failed him as much as he failed.
 

HomeRunBaker

bet squelcher
SoSH Member
Jan 15, 2004
25,499
I'm not advocating they do nothing and simply run it back with the same roster. They've got some TPEs and exceptions to try and plug some holes and fortify the roster. But do you (or anyone else) really expect them to get a better player out of any of them than White? Who and how? I also don't see them sacrificing their defensive identity (and switchability) to get some sort of throwback, pure PG who is just going to get exposed next playoff run on that end of the court. I don't want Sherman Douglas (i.e., DJ Augustin) walking through that door.
I’m not advocating a “pure” or “throwback” PG and someone like Augustin would be a worse option than White as he isn’t capable of playing at a Finals level. I’ve advocated for one who can function in that capacity since last summer and it finally bit us when the heat was turned up. Are we still not going to address it? There is a reason why Schroder was our crunch time PG for much of the time he was here……even Ime knew Smart/Tatum’s limitations/best role. Of course he showed that he wasn’t the right person for other reasons but Ime knows.

Backcourt play and ball handling/passing is more crucial than ever in this league and we simply don’t have the personnel to execute as well as we should do this glaring weakness. I don’t want to advocate for iso-ball constantly but with our lineup I’ve had to as the alternative risk was played out for us the last 6 games.