Celtics, How Good are they Really?

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Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by dboss on Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:51 pm

The Celtics won their 3rd straight game of the year last night over the Nets.

This team is still hard to figure out.  All of my high expectations are based on what I hope they can become.    At this point I  am sill very unsure.  This 3 game winning streak  was enhanced because the Celtics beat 3 bad teams.  The 8 game winning streak where the Celtics were clicking on all cylinders came against 8 bad teams.  The Celtics can beat bad teams.  That is not in doubt.

What is in doubt is their ability to beat good teams.  They have yet to prove that.
 
We have commented several times about how tough their schedule has been.  They have played 20 games on the road and are 10-10.
 
Let me get to the heart of the matter.

The Boston Celtics have played a weak schedule so far and when they actually play good teams they play like crap.  After 2 more games the Celtics will be halfway through the season.  Take all the lofty metrics and throw them out of the window.

The Celtics are still in 5th place looking up.    The Celtics have played against 12 teams that are .500 and above.  Their record is a dismal 5-7 against these better team.    The Celtics look like a 3rd place finisher at best.  The Bucks have already played 18 games against .500 and above team and have a record of 11-7.  The Raptors have played 21 games against .500 and above teams and are sporting a record of 13-8.

Both the Raptors and the Bucks have money in the bank as far as winning competitive games while the Celtics are 90 days past due on a note.

The Celtics have been plagued by all sorts of lost man hours all season.  They have not had any sustained period with a full complement of players and set rotations.  Both Hayward and Brown are still adjusting to bench rolls.  There are two very distinct issues going forward.

First there are not enough minutes to go around.  In the NBA,  you need to be able to play your best players 30+ minutes per game.  We got a whole lot of 26-28 MPG guys on this team.  So what happens is that the team loses continuity especially when they match up with teams that are playing their top 3 or 4 guys 30+ minutes per game.

The Celtics are still operating on a half a tank of gas.  That is a coaching issue.  If you are going to play a whole lot of guys below the minutes that they need to play,  the style of that play needs to change.  I hate seeing a high powered car cruising down the highway at the speed limit.  If you really want to maximize the depth on this team you have to play much  harder and faster at both ends.  You have to open things up. Guys want to play more minutes because they are not tired enough.

I think Brad missed an opportunity on training camp to implement some press coverage and elevate the importance of fast break basketball.  Bill Russell once said that teams are a creature of habits so you have to make them do something that they are not used to doing.  With all those guys needing minutes why not get them to press a little more?   Why not get them to run a little more?
 
On offense, although there has been improvement in their fast break they still do not run enough.  The Celtics could pretty much run everybody off the court if they emphasized the fast break as much as they emphasized spacing for 3 pointers.

We throw accolades around  all the time at Coach Stevens.  I said I thought he was a great coach!  But in reality that is not true.  He is trying to be a great coach and has the aptitude and person skills to be a great coach but he is not there yet.  Getting close enough to see the mountain top ain't the same thing as climbing to the top.  In sum the first issue is about how they play and how they utilize a deep roster.

The second issue relates to position.  The Celtics play center by committee.
 
Al Horford is on a 25 minute restriction since he came back from missing 7 straight with the knee issue.  Even with reduced minutes he has been playing pretty good. But on most nights we are being outplayed in the post.  The Celtics miss the physical presence of Aron Baynes and Theis plays the 5 but is not going to be very effective against teams with size on their front lines.    Williams the promising young rookie may not be able to impact the front line this year because Brad does not get him enough reps.

The Celtics probably have as much firepower on the perimeter as any team but their frontline is inadequate.  There is no improvement year over year.

The reason why Boston has really struggled against the better teams is because the better teams have more talent in their frontcourt.
 
I am going to end with this.  I am sure a lot of folks will disagree with me and that's fine because I would like to be wrong on this one but the Boston Celtics will not win a championship if Al Horford is the best frontline player on this team.  Tweaking the team to add more depth at center is a Band-Aid solution.
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by NYCelt on Tue Jan 08, 2019 4:18 pm

dboss wrote:The Celtics won their 3rd straight game of the year last night over the Nets.

This team is still hard to figure out.  All of my high expectations are based on what I hope they can become.    At this point I  am sill very unsure.  This 3 game winning streak  was enhanced because the Celtics beat 3 bad teams.  The 8 game winning streak where the Celtics were clicking on all cylinders came against 8 bad teams.  The Celtics can beat bad teams.  That is not in doubt.

What is in doubt is their ability to beat good teams.  They have yet to prove that.
 
We have commented several times about how tough their schedule has been.  They have played 20 games on the road and are 10-10.
 
Let me get to the heart of the matter.

The Boston Celtics have played a weak schedule so far and when they actually play good teams they play like crap.  After 2 more games the Celtics will be halfway through the season.  Take all the lofty metrics and throw them out of the window.

The Celtics are still in 5th place looking up.    The Celtics have played against 12 teams that are .500 and above.  Their record is a dismal 5-7 against these better team.    The Celtics look like a 3rd place finisher at best.  The Bucks have already played 18 games against .500 and above team and have a record of 11-7.  The Raptors have played 21 games against .500 and above teams and are sporting a record of 13-8.

Both the Raptors and the Bucks have money in the bank as far as winning competitive games while the Celtics are 90 days past due on a note.

The Celtics have been plagued by all sorts of lost man hours all season.  They have not had any sustained period with a full complement of players and set rotations.  Both Hayward and Brown are still adjusting to bench rolls.  There are two very distinct issues going forward.

First there are not enough minutes to go around.  In the NBA,  you need to be able to play your best players 30+ minutes per game.  We got a whole lot of 26-28 MPG guys on this team.  So what happens is that the team loses continuity especially when they match up with teams that are playing their top 3 or 4 guys 30+ minutes per game.

The Celtics are still operating on a half a tank of gas.  That is a coaching issue.  If you are going to play a whole lot of guys below the minutes that they need to play,  the style of that play needs to change.  I hate seeing a high powered car cruising down the highway at the speed limit.  If you really want to maximize the depth on this team you have to play much  harder and faster at both ends.  You have to open things up. Guys want to play more minutes because they are not tired enough.

I think Brad missed an opportunity on training camp to implement some press coverage and elevate the importance of fast break basketball.  Bill Russell once said that teams are a creature of habits so you have to make them do something that they are not used to doing.  With all those guys needing minutes why not get them to press a little more?   Why not get them to run a little more?
 
On offense, although there has been improvement in their fast break they still do not run enough.  The Celtics could pretty much run everybody off the court if they emphasized the fast break as much as they emphasized spacing for 3 pointers.

We throw accolades around  all the time at Coach Stevens.  I said I thought he was a great coach!  But in reality that is not true.  He is trying to be a great coach and has the aptitude and person skills to be a great coach but he is not there yet.  Getting close enough to see the mountain top ain't the same thing as climbing to the top.  In sum the first issue is about how they play and how they utilize a deep roster.

The second issue relates to position.  The Celtics play center by committee.
 
Al Horford is on a 25 minute restriction since he came back from missing 7 straight with the knee issue.  Even with reduced minutes he has been playing pretty good. But on most nights we are being outplayed in the post.  The Celtics miss the physical presence of Aron Baynes and Theis plays the 5 but is not going to be very effective against teams with size on their front lines.    Williams the promising young rookie may not be able to impact the front line this year because Brad does not get him enough reps.

The Celtics probably have as much firepower on the perimeter as any team but their frontline is inadequate.  There is no improvement year over year.

The reason why Boston has really struggled against the better teams is because the better teams have more talent in their frontcourt.
 
I am going to end with this.  I am sure a lot of folks will disagree with me and that's fine because I would like to be wrong on this one but the Boston Celtics will not win a championship if Al Horford is the best frontline player on this team.  Tweaking the team to add more depth at center is a Band-Aid solution.

dboss,

I tried something similar to that line with the officer who wrote me a speeding ticket last week. She didn't agree.

Other than that, I do see twin issues, similar to you.

I think Brown and Rozier simply need more minutes to get into the rhythm of their game. Coming off the bench this year is stifling them, and that could be a longer term issue. The same may prove true of Hayward, but I think he's still on the mend, and some inconsistency could be attributed to the ankle. Too soon to tell with him.

Rebounding and defense from the front-court is absolutely problem #1. Boston needs a couple of bigs that can get those jobs done. Williams may eventually prove to be one. Baynes' injuries are making him questionable in that role longer term. Horford, while an outstanding forward, excels in other areas and is getting older, while dealing with injury issues of his own.

At this point in the season, a front-court Band-Aid may be the best option available. With the quality young roster we now have, however, I agree a permanent fix at C/PF is needed. No way you want to waste the opportunity this roster presents for a competitive core for years to come. It may be, after seeing if Irving signs, the team needs to evaluate their use of Brown, Rozier and Hayward, and consider their trade value in combination with a couple of picks. If swapping out any of those three, picks retained will be needed first for a traditional type C/PF, and then a PG or wing. PG and wing is a deeper spot in this draft, so I think should be the later pick.

Regards
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by dbrown4 on Tue Jan 08, 2019 4:29 pm

All good points. I feel similarly. Here comes a stretch of 8 games starting tomorrow with TOR and IND in there for good measure. Kind of a must in my humble but accurate opinion that they need to win both and maybe all eight with two B2B's in there. Season is half over.

db
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by dboss on Tue Jan 08, 2019 5:55 pm

NYCelt and DB

I guess I need to see how they play against the really good teams.

There really is no super team right now so from that perspective all is not lost.    We are going to find out PDQ if their 5-7 record against the good teams is just a result of all the injuries issues and rotation adjustments.

I kinda came down hard on Al Horford.  Being down here in Atlanta and seeing him from the day the Hawks drafted him gives me a closer perspective.  He had one really good year(2012-13) where he averaged 17.2 PPG and 10.2 Rebounds.  The next year he started off averaging 18 a game but an injury cut that off at only 29 games.  He has always been an undersized center that has always struggled against bigger stronger guys.  When the Hawks had that amazing run in the 2014-15 season and they finished with a record of 60-22 expectations were high.

They had to beat Cleveland to make it to the big dance and were swept 4-0.  Al Horford averaged 10.5 PPG and 5.2 rebounds.  In the final closeout game Al came up with 2 points and 5 rebounds.  He could not keep Thompson off the glass and he did little to help on Lebron James.  

The next year in the playoffs they beat Boston in round one and once again lost to Cleveland 4 straight.  Al had one real good game scoring in that series with 24 point.  But in that game his counterpart Thompson also scored 24 point but grabbed 13 rebounds.  Al had one rebound in that game and averaged 3.5 rebounds during that 4 game series.

As free agency approached the word down here was that the Hawks did not want to give Al a new big contract.  They were so desperate for a center that they signed Dwight Howard.

The rest is our history.  Al signed a $113 million deal and has one $30 million paycheck left after this year.   Al is such a nice guy and he has skills but he has not been a really good player for quite some time and he is definitely not a center that can take a team to a championship.  The Celtics did not waste money on him.  He has been part of their improvement under Stevens but just like other upgrades that Danny made when he said we needed to get more talent, Al falls into that same category.
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by dbrown4 on Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:40 pm

dboss,

We're going to get a real good read right out of the gate tonight vs. IND.  We've either turned the corner or 5th place is all ours...

db

P.S. Not wishing ill on our competition but those above us need to get caught up to us on the injury bug. That could help us move up. I'm not waiting 14 seasons for a Lebron first real injury!
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by dboss on Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:57 pm

The Celtics can still win with AH but not as him being our primary center.  They need to add a talented center or PF that can score, rebound and defend at a high level. Al is a very good player that simply cannot be expected to defend against bigger more athletic centers. He cannot be expected to rebound with those guys either.

Our other bigs may not be equipped to reduce the pounding that Al takes.  Baynes can help but he is surely limited.  Theis is smaller than AH and Williams is a peak into the future.  

I do not see Danny doing anything this season.  The Celtics are not in need of another supplemental Center or PF.  They need something closer to a stud.
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by dboss on Wed Jan 09, 2019 3:58 pm

dbrown4 wrote:dboss,

We're going to get a real good read right out of the gate tonight vs. IND.  We've either turned the corner or 5th place is all ours...

db

P.S.  Not wishing ill on our competition but those above us need to get caught up to us on the injury bug.  That could help us move up.  I'm not waiting 14 seasons for a Lebron first real injury!

Pacers beat the Cavs last night. I am going to do a quick Up next thread.
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by hawksnestbeach on Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:13 pm

Yes, dboss, Horford has said he's a power forward, not a center, and he's much more effective when paired with a big man in the middle. Same for Theis. Baynes is a journeyman center, good back up, but when he goes down, the other team starts driving. Tonight will be interesting. Hawk

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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by cowens/oldschool on Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:24 pm

Guess everything was clicking tonite, didn’t see game, can’t wait to watch replay....
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by dboss on Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:28 pm

cowens/oldschool wrote:Guess everything was clicking tonite, didn’t see game, can’t wait to watch replay....

Outstanding game. Scored well in the paint, on the break, from the line, from 3, etc. A complete offensive. Great execution. A very impressive win against a very good team.
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by mrkleen09 on Wed Jan 09, 2019 11:49 pm

How good are they, really?

Pretty Good Smile

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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by KyleCleric on Thu Jan 10, 2019 12:56 am

mrkleen09 wrote:How good are they, really?

Pretty Good Smile


Yup. That was a brutal win

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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by worcester on Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:30 am

Celtics, How Good are they Really?
Simple three word answer: PFG
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by dbrown4 on Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:20 am

You cool, dboss?! I am, but am holding elation until after tonight! Can't give the loss back tonight for any reason or any loss in this 7-game stretch to ATL.

db

P.S...Nice, Worcester! I agree!
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by dboss on Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:26 am

dbrown4 wrote:You cool, dboss?!  I am, but am holding elation until after tonight!  Can't give the loss back tonight for any reason or any loss in this 7-game stretch to ATL.    

db

P.S...Nice, Worcester!  I agree!  

135 points is a lot even if they were playing against senior citizens. Pacers had no energy having played the night before. Celts were home, rested and well motivated to even the score. B2B on the road not an easy turnaround but they have to win games like this.
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by dbrown4 on Thu Jan 10, 2019 2:42 pm

Come on, now, dboss...That was against CLE!! With the amount of bread these guys make, I have a hard time taking the B2B issue off the table even if they were playing the 90's Bulls/'86 Celtics! I'm just messin' with you, though!

I like the Senior Citizen quip!

db
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by worcester on Thu Jan 10, 2019 3:16 pm

Where would we be now if we had succeeded trading draft picks plus to minny for Kevin Love years back?
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by KyleCleric on Thu Jan 10, 2019 3:48 pm

worcester wrote:Where would we be now if we had succeeded trading draft picks plus to minny for Kevin Love years back?

I dunno. Maybe under Stevens, Love would have stayed a top 5 player.

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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by worcester on Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:17 pm

What kind of a supporting cast would Danny have created?
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by KyleCleric on Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:46 pm

worcester wrote:What kind of a supporting cast would Danny have created?

It’s difficult to tell without knowing what the trade would have been. Presumably it would have been Smart’s draft pick and matching salary (I think we had a huge trade exemption at the time which probably could have covered salary), likely some other picks as well. Brooklyn picks at that point wouldn’t have been too valuable. Love would have joined Rondo, Bradley, Jeff Green, Olynyk (if not traded), Sullinger, Brandon Bass, Gerald Wallace. We had the 6th and 17th picks that year with Smart and Young. Pressey and Dwight Powell undrafted. Evan Turner was signed in that offseason. The deal where we would have received Zeller and Marcus Thornton wouldn’t have happened.

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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by worcester on Thu Jan 10, 2019 5:49 pm

Woulda. Coulda. But maybe not shoulda. I expect Love will be on the market before the trade deadline. Any sense in going after him now? Price/cap cost probably way too high, but he could still be a 20/10 guy. Actually we have that in Morris now for 1/5 the price.
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by KyleCleric on Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:50 pm

worcester wrote:Woulda. Coulda. But maybe not shoulda. I expect Love will be on the market before the trade deadline. Any sense in going after him now? Price/cap cost probably way too high, but he could still be a 20/10 guy. Actually we have that in Morris now for 1/5 the price.

I don't see us trading for Love (too much salary). I'd lean more toward releasing Bird and signing someone for the 15th spot (buyout candidate or free agent or one of our 2-way players to be available for the playoffs). A player who they could sign to a 2nd year, non-guaranteed may be best as they could be useful in an Anthony Davis deal if they were to try to make that move in June/July.

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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by worcester on Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:56 pm

Makes sense Kyle. Keep options open for AD.
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by dboss on Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:50 am

The Celtics miss the physical presence of Aron Baynes in the paint.  I will never accuse him of being a great player but I have always recognized his value to level the playing field when Boston is facing a team that has a big frontline rotation that is particularly strong in the paint.

He should be returning soon but it may take a few games for him to get in Basketball shape.  I do not know if his return will be enough to neutralize the startling decline of Al Horford but his return will definitely help.

Everybody seems to like what Williams can do.  He however has much to learn at both ends of the floor.  He is a pure shot blocker but he has not learned how to position himself for rebounds.  He has the quickness to find open spaces in the paint to create a better position but he tends to stand away from the rim.  Great rebounders are not necessarily great athletes but they are always fighting for a positional edge.  Who is the big man coach on this team?  

Williams is in a developmental stage but he does need to get consistent reps each game. He can help us win right now. I think you have to play him 8-10 MPG right now.  When Aron come back the Celtics should consider keeping Al Horford's minutes down.  I think he is a 25 MPG guy now.  So I think 25 for Al, 15 for Aron and 8 for Robert works.  I would use Theis as a secondary backup at PF for Morris with very limited minutes at center.
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Re: Celtics, How Good are they Really?

Post by cowens/oldschool on Fri Jan 11, 2019 10:58 am

I’d give Williams 12-15 minutes every game, 20 or more against teams with an Embid/Davis type.
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