Celtics/Sixers First Round Thread

nighthob

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Just cause I love lists.
Giannis, AD, Lebron, Kawhi, Harden, Luka, Jokic, Lillard, Steph, Durant
One of those guys didn't play at all last year and suffered an injury that's likely to greatly reduce his game. Another barely played. Get back to me on Luka when he can stop a sneeze from reaching the paint and scoring. Yes, Tatum is a top ten player today. And still getting better.
 

CreedBratton

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One of those guys didn't play at all last year and suffered an injury that's likely to greatly reduce his game. Another barely played. Get back to me on Luka when he can stop a sneeze from reaching the paint and scoring. Yes, Tatum is a top ten player today. And still getting better.
I mean I’m as biased as anyone & this is just laughable. I love Tatum but he is nowhere near the player of Luka. He also isn’t a top 10 player. He is not better then anyone on that list or even close to any of them. Stop.

I hope he gets there someday.
 

nighthob

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Luka uses 26-27 offensive possessions to shoot per game, Tatum uses approximately 20. If you let him shoot on similar volume you'd get similar scoring (especially given that Tatum is a much better shooter). Luka is fantastic at running the offense off the wing, and that really helps a team in roster construction (it's a lot easier to find an Avery Bradley to give you killer on-ball D and three point shooting than a Kemba Walker). But this sort of ignores the fact that Tatum is one man wrecking crew defensively and Luka never will be. Tatum has essentially morphed into Durant Lite.

Durant Regular can't really be a top ten player in a season that he spent as a spectator. And given the achilles injury he won't be Durant Regular next year either. And given his age he's unlikely to ever be able to get back to what he was as a defender or what he provided in the drive game. The shooting won't be affected, and he'll still score a ton on jumpers. But a 6'11" Klay Thompson isn't necessarily a top ten player.
 

benhogan

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I mean I’m as biased as anyone & this is just laughable. I love Tatum but he is nowhere near the player of Luka. He also isn’t a top 10 player. He is not better then anyone on that list or even close to any of them. Stop.

I hope he gets there someday.
I'm definitely guilty of being bias BUT

Top 10 NBA players and Tatum's greatness relative to those other 9 is fluid.

Since being named to the All-Star team his counting #s are top 5 and match his defensive prowess. I don't see that as luck but progression. YMMV

He's still getting better. Over the next month as the stakes/spotlight increases, I expect him to take it to another level.
 

RorschachsMask

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I mean I’m as biased as anyone & this is just laughable. I love Tatum but he is nowhere near the player of Luka. He also isn’t a top 10 player. He is not better then anyone on that list or even close to any of them. Stop.

I hope he gets there someday.
I mean....yeah he is close to them. And yeah it’s debatable that he is a top ten player. Recent best player lists from ESPN.com, nba.com, and bleacher report all had him top 13 I believe.

Add that in with the fact that he finished the season 11th in RPM, 8th in PIPM, 7th in RAPM, 10th in RAPTOR, and 11th in VORP.
 

benhogan

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I mean....yeah he is close to them. And yeah it’s debatable that he is a top ten player. Recent best player lists from ESPN.com, nba.com, and bleacher report all had him top 13 I believe.

Add that in with the fact that he finished the season 11th in RPM, 8th in PIPM, 7th in RAPM, 10th in RAPTOR, and 11th in VORP.
the 2nd half of the season he was firmly in the top 10 across the board...

and that's the player he is right now
 

DannyDarwinism

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Yikes, Grant has nearly triple the career blocks the Semi has (36/13) despite playing about a third of the minutes. Better steal rate, better passer, better on the boards, better screen-setter. But when looking strictly at how they perform in their respective roles, Semi’s probably the choice in most instances. Grant’s a better player when things break down, and I think he’ll be a better player overall soon enough, but Semi is the more reliable piece now.
Quite happy to be wrong about this. Grant’s just better than Semi at everything except shooting, and his superior screening and help defense, in particular, more than make up for whatever marginal upgrade in spacing Semi provides. The play where he sets a high screen for Tatum, then rolls down to seal off Horford’s contest with his big badonk was awesome. Should get an assist for that.
 

RorschachsMask

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the 2nd half of the season he was firmly in the top 10 across the board...

and that's the player he is right now
I’d personally have him about 8th the way he is playing, but I may be overtly bullish.

Hayward is out, so Tatum has to take on more of a playmaking role. And he puts up 33/5/5 with no turnovers, was under control basically every second of the game.
 

JakeRae

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I’d personally have him about 8th the way he is playing, but I may be overtly bullish.

Hayward is out, so Tatum has to take on more of a playmaking role. And he puts up 33/5/5 with no turnovers, was under control basically every second of the game.
I think some of this depends on rating this season v. everyone healthy. For this season/right now, Tatum is clearly in the top 10. For overall, he’s still a “top 10 player” in that he’s one of the 12 or 13 best talents in the game, but it’s very close as to whether he sneaks into the top 10.

For what it’s worth, I think Tatum is better than Doncic right now, but wouldn’t think someone was obviously wrong for disagreeing. For the list posted earlier, Lillard is also in Tatum’s tier, but so are Butler and Gobert and Chris Paul remains a bit of a wildcard depending on how you rate health as a skill. Durant, as others have noted, is basically impossible to rank. I think once you get past those guys, there is a legit gap to the next tier of guys. But, I can also remember a year ago when people thought I was crazy for saying Tatum was better than Towns and Embiid.
 

Light-Tower-Power

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Is there any reason to believe G3 or G4 will be any more competitive than this one?
I mean maybe Tobias Harris plays better and they luck into some outside shooting? I don’t think Embiid’s conditioning is improving in the next two days and Al isn’t getting any younger or more mobile. Still probably doesn’t matter unless the Celtics straight up lay an egg.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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With or without Durant, JT is top 10 now

#defense matters
I think he may actually be in the top five since the calendar turned. He is in the top five of net rating since the first of the year with three others - Giannis, Lopez and Bledsoe - on one team. Tatum is also eighth in D rating (for lack of a better easy D metric) for the same period.

I am struggling to recall a Boston player that was this tough/impossible to guard but not seeing any recent examples.

As great as Embiid is, Tatum is currently the best player in this series. He is unguardable with no qualifiers. He is that good.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Is there any reason to believe G3 or G4 will be any more competitive than this one?
As great as Embiid is, Tatum is currently the best player in this series. He is unguardable with no qualifiers. He is that good.
The Sixers have no one who can guard Jason, Jaylen, or Kemba. Plus, Brown is reduced to using that stupid drop defense because asking Embiid to go out on the perimeter and guard people constantly means he'll get winded even earlier in the game.

So to answer the first question, the only way that the series becomes more competitive is if the Cs have a bad shooting night. It's possible but doubt it's going to happen more than once.
 

HomeRunBaker

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They’re in Philly?

No, wait.
Well......virtually they will be.

I don’t place any weight in the number of players to hit 3’s since several were in garbage time. We hit 19 with many due in large part to slow and disinterested close outs. With the Sixers two games from escaping the bubble I don’t foresee them improving in this area.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Also, so glad that CBS is on our side. He constantly manages to put players in a position to succeed. He knows that the Sixers perimeter players generally play small so having Romeo in for defense is better than say Semi. He maximizes Kanter's minutes. He gets the bench players into the best matchups for them.

Contrast them to Brown, who to me seems to be still trying to figure out something that might work. Maybe it's a roster construction issue, but Brown doesn't seem to me to have a game plan on who he is going to bring in and in what situations. Was kind of amazed that Burks didn't get into the game until late second quarter. Also seems to me that given the Sixers lack of wing defense, he might want to at least try Mike Scott. Plus, the team spent $100+M on Horford; given Embiid's conditioning issues, one would think they'd at least try to get Horford the ball at times.

At any rate, kudos to CBS so far. He's pushed all the right buttons so far to my eyes.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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I mean I’m as biased as anyone & this is just laughable. I love Tatum but he is nowhere near the player of Luka. He also isn’t a top 10 player. He is not better then anyone on that list or even close to any of them. Stop.

I hope he gets there someday.
Defense is a thing, man.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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The Sixers have no one who can guard Jason, Jaylen, or Kemba. Plus, Brown is reduced to using that stupid drop defense because asking Embiid to go out on the perimeter and guard people constantly means he'll get winded even earlier in the game.

So to answer the first question, the only way that the series becomes more competitive is if the Cs have a bad shooting night. It's possible but doubt it's going to happen more than once.
There are maybe a handful of guys with the size, strength and athleticism to kind of hang with Tatum right now. None of them are in this series. And some aren't even in the bubble. This isn't even a criticism of the 76ers or at least not the current organization.

What can you do when a player realizes that they can get whatever they want, whenever they want.

Philly will still give Boston a fight but it feels like they have no answer. Philly Iguodala is not walking through that door.
 

nighthob

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Defense is a thing, man.
The hilarious claim is that Tatum is not even as close to good as guys out injured. One day Tatum might have nearly as much impact as someone not even playing! (Secretly he’s a huge net negative and none of us realized it.)
 

Red Averages

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Is there any reason to believe G3 or G4 will be any more competitive than this one?
celtics shot 44% from 3, 76ers shot 23%. If both shoot near 30% that’s a much closer game. It’s a make or miss league and as we’ve seen things can change quickly when you’re ice cold and your opponent isn’t.

even still, I’ll hold firm to thinking the Celtics sweep this series winning each game by 10+ as I said before game 1. Even when Philly was hitting 75% of their shots they couldn’t quite pull away. The 76ers just can’t match up with the Celtics, even with Hayward out. It’s not great strategy to just hope the Celtics shot 30% with wide open looks.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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There are maybe a handful of guys with the size, strength and athleticism to kind of hang with Tatum right now. None of them are in this series. And some aren't even in the bubble. This isn't even a criticism of the 76ers or at least not the current organization.

What can you do when a player realizes that they can get whatever they want, whenever they want.

Philly will still give Boston a fight but it feels like they have no answer. Philly Iguodala is not walking through that door.
yeah, the Sixers really miss Simmons in this matchup.

If I'm Brown, I have to be trying to blitz Tatum to get the ball out of his hand. Not that the Sixers seem to be able to play any kind of scramble defense.

As you say, Sixers have a lot more problems than answers.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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celtics shot 44% from 3, 76ers shot 23%. If both shoot near 30% that’s a much closer game. It’s a make or miss league and as we’ve seen things can change quickly when you’re ice cold and your opponent isn’t.
That's a little misleading because the Sixers were taking mostly contested three pointers and the Cs had a ton of wide open shots. When the Sixers went zone in the 3Q, the Cs got multiple wide open shots.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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yeah, the Sixers really miss Simmons in this matchup.

If I'm Brown, I have to be trying to blitz Tatum to get the ball out of his hand. Not that the Sixers seem to be able to play any kind of scramble defense.

Sixers have a lot more problems than answers.
Aside from Thybulle, the Sixers have no real wing defenders. Richardson looks lost on D and the rest of their wing group simply lacks the athleticism needed to slow Tatum and Brown.

They can still pull this out but it's looking pretty bleak.
 

benhogan

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I mean I’m as biased as anyone & this is just laughable. I love Tatum but he is nowhere near the player of Luka. He also isn’t a top 10 player. He is not better then anyone on that list or even close to any of them. Stop.

I hope he gets there someday.
Did this post set some sort of speed record for aging poorly? :eek:

Just kidding Creed
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Aside from Thybulle, the Sixers have no real wing defenders. Richardson looks lost on D and the rest of their wing group simply lacks the athleticism needed to slow Tatum and Brown.

They can still pull this out but it's looking pretty bleak.
Agree. Brown virtually has to dust off Mike Scott to see if he has anything left in his tank. i wouldn't be surprised if Scott starts game 3.
 

Euclis20

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Kemba has been dismal from 3 (1/10 so far, and not a lot of them hotly contested) but the flip side of that is that he's been excellent from inside the arc. His season 2p% is .476, and he's 14/22 so far (.636). If he's all the way back on offense that will go a long way towards replacing Hayward on that end.
 

Kliq

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Embiid doesn't have the conditioning to go the distance and without him Philly has no chance. I don't see it getting any better. Philly's defensive strategy is to try and let Embiid save energy by stashing him near the basket and not having him help on screens, and Tatum/Walker are just lining up wide open looks at the basket. Hard to see Philly solving that without Embiid wearing down even faster.
 

HowBoutDemSox

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Kemba has been dismal from 3 (1/10 so far, and not a lot of them hotly contested) but the flip side of that is that he's been excellent from inside the arc. His season 2p% is .476, and he's 14/22 so far (.636). If he's all the way back on offense that will go a long way towards replacing Hayward on that end.
According to Kemba, Philly’s drop coverage on the pick and roll is creating a ton of space for his mid-range game:
View: https://mobile.twitter.com/KeithSmithNBA/status/1296258239072481282

Keith Smith
@KeithSmithNBA

Kemba Walker on getting to his pull-up jumper so easily and so often against Philadelphia's drop coverage: "It's different. I really haven't seen that much space in a very long time. (pause, shakes his head a bit) It's different."
9:30 PM · Aug 19, 2020

I’m not sure what Brett Brown’s counter is. Other than maybe Thybulle, Philly doesn’t have the perimeter defenders to fight through the pick and if they switch it’s Embiid covering one of Kemba/Tatum/Jaylen in space. They could try to double more but the Celtics have been good so far at kicking it to whoever is open for a 3 or an easy layup when they try to trap up top.
 

Euclis20

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The answer is to either fight through the screen (hard to do forever) and/or the big man (usually Embiid) needs to play up and either push the ballhandler back to where the original defender can pick them up, or switch. I have to assume it's by design that they are having Embiid just sit in the paint, since it keeps happening. Philly has to realize that Tatum and Kemba are more than happy to bomb away from 3 or from midrange (a wide open pull up J for Kemba from the elbow feels like a layup). If they're holding Embiid back in the paint either to protect the rim or to keep him rested for offense. Either way Philly's defense is incredibly lazy - it's quite clear who the best player on that end of the floor is for them, and it's not the guy with multiple [2nd team] all defense nods.
 

lovegtm

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Lots to address here, love waking up in the morning to a win.
I am struggling to recall a Boston player that was this tough/impossible to guard but not seeing any recent examples.

Yes, this. Even leaving Tatum's D aside, people don't really grok how much of a cheat code it is to be able to get off a 40% 3-point attempt literally whenever you want. And this is his first year having it. Imagine 2-3 more years of honing that shot...erections intensify.

If he starts launching 10+/game, I think people will think of him as a clear top-7 player next year, on the outside of the MVP conversation. "Tatum > AD" will go from insane homer-ism to common opinion.

Who controls the 3-point spice controls the universe.

Kemba has been dismal from 3 (1/10 so far, and not a lot of them hotly contested) but the flip side of that is that he's been excellent from inside the arc. His season 2p% is .476, and he's 14/22 so far (.636). If he's all the way back on offense that will go a long way towards replacing Hayward on that end.
Kemba is clearly back physically. If Embiid wants to start coming up to contest 3s and midrangers, Kemba will just blow by to the rim. He's fast again. When the 3s start falling...

Aside from Thybulle, the Sixers have no real wing defenders. Richardson looks lost on D and the rest of their wing group simply lacks the athleticism needed to slow Tatum and Brown.
And Tatum made Thybulle his son this game. He just went right at him.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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The answer is to either fight through the screen (hard to do forever) and/or the big man (usually Embiid) needs to play up and either push the ballhandler back to where the original defender can pick them up, or switch. I have to assume it's by design that they are having Embiid just sit in the paint, since it keeps happening. Philly has to realize that Tatum and Kemba are more than happy to bomb away from 3 or from midrange (a wide open pull up J for Kemba from the elbow feels like a layup). If they're holding Embiid back in the paint either to protect the rim or to keep him rested for offense. Either way Philly's defense is incredibly lazy - it's quite clear who the best player on that end of the floor is for them, and it's not the guy with multiple [2nd team] all defense nods.
I wonder if Embiid is more hurt than we know.
 

lovegtm

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I wonder if Embiid is more hurt than we know.
Looks like he is playing through pain, but the bigger reasons are probably
1. He has to conserve energy for the offensive end: he's getting gassed there even with the low-energy defensive scheme.
2. They're (correctly) worried that Kemba will dust him repeatedly for layups if he plays up to touch.

This drop attack is a possible preview of a Bucks series, although the Bucks guards/forwards are much better/more aggressive at the point of attack, so the open space isn’t as endless.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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Everything I thought Brad would do in Game 2 was wrong; he really upped his game. I think the guy loves being an underdog and trying to solve specific matchups.

One fascinating wrinkle is that Embiid's deep drop is letting the Celtics play 2-3 non-shooters at once: they played a Kanter/Grant/Romeo lineup at one point. All they have to do is let the center keep re-screening for Tatum and Kemba until something opens up.

Brown eventually tried zone to counter that, but then the Celtics just did the same thing to let one guy collapse the defense, and got it to the secondary driver (Kemba or Brown preferred, but Smart and Wanamaker are fine in this role).

Stevens' creativity against the specific defense was impressive--I definitely didn't think more non-shooters was the answer, and expected a lot of Semi.
Agreed all the way around.

I am also now wondering if Kanter will play a bigger role going forward. His minutes went from ~eight in game one to 21+ tonight. His defense cannot be measured by any available technology but he had his way on offense. Embiid is typically tougher on Kanter than today which also suggests that the drop is, at least partially to disguise/protect some sort of injury (ankle). I am not married to this theory and it could be something else entirely. I just don't recall Embiid sagging this much. Stevens took full advantage.
 

lovegtm

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Agreed all the way around.

I am also now wondering if Kanter will play a bigger role going forward. His minutes went from ~eight in game one to 21+ tonight. His defense cannot be measured by any available technology but he had his way on offense. Embiid is typically tougher on Kanter than today which also suggests that the drop is, at least partially to disguise/protect some sort of injury (ankle). I am not married to this theory and it could be something else entirely. I just don't recall Embiid sagging this much. Stevens took full advantage.
I’m cool if Embiid is hurt and decides to pack it in after two monster efforts.

Missing Simmons hurts so much on defense, and has a ripple-down effect that affects Brown’s options for Embiid. Simmons is so good, especially against Tatum. It also makes Kanter way more playable on D. I cited both of these here as reasons I was totally fine to play Philly once Simmons went down, and that part has played to form.

The NBA as constructed just doesn’t give enough value to elite post players unless they’re surrounded with the right complementary guys, and Embiid isn’t.
 

lovegtm

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...
For what it’s worth, I think Tatum is better than Doncic right now, but wouldn’t think someone was obviously wrong for disagreeing. For the list posted earlier, Lillard is also in Tatum’s tier, but so are Butler and Gobert and Chris Paul remains a bit of a wildcard depending on how you rate health as a skill. Durant, as others have noted, is basically impossible to rank. I think once you get past those guys, there is a legit gap to the next tier of guys. But, I can also remember a year ago when people thought I was crazy for saying Tatum was better than Towns and Embiid.
Re the last part: people don't do a great job pricing young players vs. older ones. Not sure of the reason; maybe the success of going all vet in 2007 and seeing the guys/picks traded be nothings affected Celtics fans forever.

The younger player always looks worse until he doesn't, and then suddenly you're like "oh man, Tatum has 6 more years of team control, and Paul George is 30..."

Obviously the flipside is Andrew Wiggins, but whenever you see a young guy with tools playing strong D or O and making incremental improvements in the other area, the years of control, additional upside, and coming decline for older guys mean you have to adjust your pricing of the young dude upwards from what feels comfortable.

There might be a corollary to that: if you see a young guy like Towns who checks all the boxes, but simply isn't making incremental improvements on defense (at the most important defensive position), you probably adjust his "young guy points" lower than you'd expect, even with a proven elite offensive game.
 

benhogan

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Kanter has found a nice role in this series. Pounding a groggy Embiid with body punches. 22mins of +24 last night playing all of his minutes against the 76ers superstar.

Snatching offensive boards away from Joel with easy put-backs has to be just plain demoralizing.

I'd expect to see CBS give us a heavy dose of Enes the rest of this series.
 

NomarsFool

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I was really impressed with Kanter last night. I thought he played Embiid reasonably well on the defensive end, and of course was his usual hyper efficient self on the offensive glass. He even hit a 3 pointer! On the flip side, Theis has been a little disappointing this series [edit]. He is still doing his great job on the seals, but he looks too tentative on the 3s. If I recall correctly, he even upfaked his 3PA last night when there was no one anyone near him, which resulted in then taking a somewhat more contested 3PA (which he missed). WIth Embiid standing 10 feet away from him, he needs to be able to take and make those 3s.

As impressive as Tatum was last night, I do think he falls into hero ball a bit too much. I'm just not a big fan of taking shots without ever passing the ball. I don't know, maybe guys appreciate having a bit of a "rest" on an offensive play to have someone just take the ball, create their own shot, and all you have to do is stand there. But, as a fan, my favorite basketball is watching the ball zip around the court and find someone with a wide open shot.
 
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wade boggs chicken dinner

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Looks like he is playing through pain, but the bigger reasons are probably
1. He has to conserve energy for the offensive end: he's getting gassed there even with the low-energy defensive scheme.
2. They're (correctly) worried that Kemba will dust him repeatedly for layups if he plays up to touch.

This drop attack is a possible preview of a Bucks series, although the Bucks guards/forwards are much better/more aggressive at the point of attack, so the open space isn’t as endless.
A pre-series article on Liberty Ballers suggested what we all think is true: PHI can't have Embiid hedge on too many screens because he'd simply be gassed even sooner: https://www.libertyballers.com/2020/8/17/21371829/sixers-observations-from-seeding-games-philadelphia-76ers-nba-orlando-bubble.

Related to this is Brown's insistence of running PHI's offense through Embiid virtually every trip down the floor. If I'm Brown, I have to figure out someone else to run my offense through. To me, the next best player on PHI is Horford but BB doesn't seem to want to use him at all.