It goes with out saying that accidents and sickness have fully derailed the season. What hasn’t gotten as a lot consideration is how the roster fared with the gamers that stayed principally wholesome and performed probably the most minutes. I’m on the document as saying the Celtics can be high quality with out Gordon Hayward, and it’s a take that I stand by primarily based on how good the publish All-Star mostly-healthy Celtics performed. Even so, I’ve to confess that I used to be form of flawed.
Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Sensible, and Kemba Walker performed probably the most minutes for the Celtics in every of the final two seasons. Tatum continues to be shaking off COVID (is it even doable to shake off COVID?), Brown was their most constant participant earlier than his season-ending wrist harm, Sensible was hampered by a fairly critical leg harm, and Kemba was nonetheless Kemba regardless of the outrage over his load administration and infrequently streaky taking pictures.
And but, many of the Celtics’ points got here from outdoors of their high 4. I do know it’s fashionable responsible our greatest gamers in Boston, however there’s a a lot easier reply to all this: they have been a poor defensive staff. Should you evaluate the minutes distribution between this season and the final, the equation turns into fairly easy.
Examine that record to this one:
What occurs when 500 Daniel Theis minutes and 1700 Gordon Hayward minutes go to Tristan Thompson and Payton Pritchard?
To be clear, I like Pritchard as a participant. And for ten video games, I assume Thompson appeared fairly good, too. However the defensive downgrade right here is very large. We knew this in the future one of many season and we actually realize it now, so why spend a lot time questioning the character of the staff? How is it constructive to criticize the management of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum?
I totally imagine within the thought of a basketball participant having sure “intangibles” that give them an edge. Hustle, coronary heart, spirit, intuition, really feel for the sport, confidence, clutch issue, knowledge, focus — all of it issues. I don’t use any of these items to find out whether or not or not a participant or staff is able to enjoying protection. A minimum of, not any extra.
To the bare eye, protection is generally effort. Marcus Sensible performs laborious and is among the finest defensive guards in basketball, so these two issues have to be associated, proper? Perhaps to an extent, nevertheless it’s not like there’s an effort-to-defense conversion price we will use to provide a concrete reply. However we will quantify protection in different methods, like with steals, deflections, blocks, costs drawn, and extra. We will see how he cuts off passing angles to both fish for steals or forestall passes earlier than they occur. We will see him leverage his energy to maintain greater gamers from posting them up. And since we will see these items and agree on their significance, we will fairly simply determine gamers who don’t have these expertise. If we will do this, then we will determine if this can be a good defensive staff with out calling anyone’s character into query.
They’re not. They completed 14th in defensive ranking in some way, however they’re not. Even at full energy, it’s laborious to make the case that this was a very good defensive staff when Tatum and Sensible are the one two all-around dependable defenders on the roster.
If “coronary heart” is all you possibly can discuss after 72 grueling video games, then I don’t know what to let you know. There’s mountains of video and information to assist inform your opinions and also you’d should be fairly intentionally obtuse to disregard all of it. I’ve loads of criticism that begins on the very high of the group and goes all the way in which all the way down to the seventeenth roster spot, however not even I’d go as far as to name anyone a quitter after a yr like this.