Celtics/Sixers First Round Thread

lovegtm

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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 season. 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.
“Theis has been a little bit disappointing this season” is...an interesting take.
 

lovegtm

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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.
Horford is an awful matchup against jacked Jaylen Brown or Grant Williams. There’s a lot of evidence that Horford just isn’t that good anymore unless he’s playing the 5 with someone like Simmons.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Horford is an awful matchup against jacked Jaylen Brown or Grant Williams. There’s a lot of evidence that Horford just isn’t that good anymore unless he’s playing the 5 with someone like Simmons.
not saying it's ideal but who else is PHI going to play through on offense?

Not sure how good Al is or is not anymore but he's not getting many meaningful touches (Usg% was 5.9% last night).

As I said upthread, CBS is way better than Brown in figuring out how to put his non-stars in spots where they can be productive.
 

lovegtm

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not saying it's ideal but who else is PHI going to play through on offense?

Not sure how good Al is or is not anymore but he's not getting many meaningful touches (Usg% was 5.9% last night).

As I said upthread, CBS is way better than Brown in figuring out how to put his non-stars in spots where they can be productive.
Yeah, you won’t get much debate re Stevens being a better coach than Brown.

I’m just not sure how I’d use Horford on offense with this group—they’re so limited in dribble creation. If you run PnR or DHO with him and Tobias, the Celtics will just switch the likesized matchup. It’s hard for this Sixers team to find advantages out there because Brand is such a godawful GM.
 

Jimbodandy

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Yeah, you won’t get much debate re Stevens being a better coach than Brown.

I’m just not sure how I’d use Horford on offense with this group—they’re so limited in dribble creation. If you run PnR or DHO with him and Tobias, the Celtics will just switch the likesized matchup. It’s hard for this Sixers team to find advantages out there because Brand is such a godawful GM.
Don't know why they couldn't run the Kyrie PnP with Milton/Al, or that high post inside-out 7th grade play, just to get the ball in his hands. JRich seems to be a forgotten man too.

I get that we're a bad matchup for Philly, and that team is poorly constructed even with Simmons, but the gassed guy is killing them at the defensive end.
 

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lovegtm

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Richardson is getting roasted in a few places for this bad entry pass to Embiid that Theis was able to get a piece of:
View: https://twitter.com/KevinOConnorNBA/status/1296239977257467905


The guy they really miss is Jimmy Butler. I get if he wanted to be the man in Miami rather than part of the Simmons/Embiid crew in Philly, but having a guy that can run the pick and roll and give a different kind of look on offense.
The scuttlebutt is that Butler wanted to come back, and Embiid wanted him back, but he wasn’t going to do it if Simmons was there.
 

lovegtm

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Don't know why they couldn't run the Kyrie PnP with Milton/Al, or that high post inside-out 7th grade play, just to get the ball in his hands. JRich seems to be a forgotten man too.

I get that we're a bad matchup for Philly, and that team is poorly constructed even with Simmons, but the gassed guy is killing them at the defensive end.
The only problem there is that Kyrie Irving is one of the best offensive players of his generation, and Shake Milton is Shake Milton. The Celtics probably just go under that all day until Shake shows he can make off-the-dribble 3s.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Or, since Tatum is killing them on the offensive end, might as well make him play some defense. Switch Tatum on to Horford; and see if Al can't at least get a couple of fouls on Tatum and put Embiid in the dunker spot so at least he can get some rest.

Yeah, it's probably not going to happen because Brown is 3/4 of the way out the door already and putting Al into different spots is a (tacit) admission that he's been mis-using Al all season.

Although if I'm Brett Brown and I'm trying to figure out what a winning game plan looks like for the Sixers, I don't think that hoping the Cs miss a bunch of wide-open jumpers and having Embiid scoring 40+ points in multiple games is a very likely scenario.

BTW, here's Kemba to Jay King on PHI's defense: "Kemba Walker on the way the 76ers see guarding him: “It’s different. I really haven’t seen that much space in a very long time.”"

View: https://twitter.com/ByJayKing/status/1296257827183439875
 

Jimbodandy

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The only problem there is that Kyrie Irving is one of the best offensive players of his generation, and Shake Milton is Shake Milton. The Celtics probably just go under that all day until Shake shows he can make off-the-dribble 3s.
It's a dice roll for sure, but you have to run actions for other people. Seems like Harris got a couple, but the rest were all JE.
 

InstaFace

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“Theis has been a little bit disappointing this season” is...an interesting take.
I demand all-star production from my third-year undersized center making $5M!

More seriously, the Athletic brought my attention back to Smart making a "T" sign with his hands, as a way of mocking Philly, saying they needed a timeout. He's gotta be living rent-free in their heads at this point. The whole article is worth reading for the subscribers (and I'm happy to give out free 30-day passes like candy):

 
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Nator

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John Karalis made what I thought was a good assessment of Philly on his podcast, saying that they have maybe a quarter and a half of real fight left in them. I feel like In any situation where Celtics can push their lead somewhere around the 15 point threshold the 76ers will check out.
 

RedOctober3829

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Imagine if the Memphis pick nets us another athletic rim runner such as Precious Achiuwa, Saddiq Bey, or Patrick Williams. This team going forward even after this year has a much higher ceiling than they're showing right now.
 

InstaFace

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Yeah Embiid is like one of the worst 3-4 matchups in the league for Theis. That's OK, because handling Embiid is a team effort. Theis' job will become way easier (and more important) against Toronto.
 

bakahump

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Theis has been bad at the threes. Tentative and missng alot (He has made 1? I think)

BUT.....thats not his job. His job is too work on Embiid. He busted ass the last two games muscling up with a guy who has 50+ lbs and 4+ inches on him. Certainly he has help. (Kanter and to much lesser extent TL and GWilliams have also been banging). He has been out running forcing someone to account for him on the break (or mini break). Finally he has been working ....and making Embiid WORK on the glass. Helping to slowly sap Embiids stamina.

I am glad Kanter is showing something. I was worried that Theis was going to be smoked after having to battle Embiid for 20-30 mins every night with Ibaka, Pascal and Gasol looming. (And Giannis after that).

Hell Theis won the tip last night! (I was actually gonna ask if anyone thought we would win one this series.)

So to complain that Theis has been a disappointment (on offense....and specifically 3pts) is like bitching that your microwave is bad at cooking a turkey. Can it do it? Sure...but thats not the function you really want it to do. Let him cook popcorn and warm up leftovers. If he steams some veggies all the better.
 

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Also.....while Tatum is the alpha scorer and can lock down team defense.......Am I crazy thinking Jaylen may actually be the straw that stirs the drink?
In both games there was a point where Jaylen basically said "F this" and turned both games around.

Whether it was deciding to "all your defense belong to me" last night or taking over the 4th qtr scoring after JT might have been a little winded from carrying the offense the first half in game one.

Now I dont think he is a better player the Tatum...

But as we have tossed around he may be the the Perfect compliment to Tatum.

They are SO awesome together.
 

NomarsFool

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Yeah Embiid is like one of the worst 3-4 matchups in the league for Theis. That's OK, because handling Embiid is a team effort. Theis' job will become way easier (and more important) against Toronto.
It seemed like Kanter was able to keep Embiid away from the low post much better than Theis. I was surprised, because Kanter's big weakness is defense overall. Is Kanter that much stronger? Kanter does have two inches of height on Theis.
 

RorschachsMask

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Also.....while Tatum is the alpha scorer and can lock down team defense.......Am I crazy thinking Jaylen may actually be the straw that stirs the drink?
In both games there was a point where Jaylen basically said "F this" and turned both games around.

Whether it was deciding to "all your defense belong to me" last night or taking over the 4th qtr scoring after JT might have been a little winded from carrying the offense the first half in game one.

Now I dont think he is a better player the Tatum...

But as we have tossed around he may be the the Perfect compliment to Tatum.

They are SO awesome together.
The net ratings and impact stats make it pretty clear Tatum is the guy who stirs the drink. He was a +29, the next best starter was Jaylen at +10, and Tatum did a bunch of his damage when the other four players on the court were Romeo, Wanamaker, Grant, Kanter, so the defense was completely keying in on Tatum.

I don’t know if the stat is still true, but as of the other day, Tatum was the only Celtics player in the bubble where the team had a negative net rating when he sits. I do agree that Jaylen is a near perfect compliment to Tatum, he’s becoming a deadly off ball player. Tatum hit Jaylen on a few nice backdoor cuts last night, which is something Jaylen should be doing multiple times a game.

I kind of look at Jaylen as the Klay Thompson to Tatum’s Curry.
 

lovegtm

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It seemed like Kanter was able to keep Embiid away from the low post much better than Theis. I was surprised, because Kanter's big weakness is defense overall. Is Kanter that much stronger? Kanter does have two inches of height on Theis.
Kanter’s weakness isn’t exactly “defense”; it’s PnR defense and rim protection, which, to be fair, are usually the sum total of “defense” for a center.

The thing is, Kanter is a very good post defender. He’s an ox with quick hands who moves his feet well in limited space. He’s done a credible job on Embiid throughout his career, and the Sixers simply don’t have the personnel to expose his very real deficiencies.
 

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Fun stat line from last night:
Brad Wanamaker - 23 mins, 3-3 FG, 1-1 3 pt, 7 pts, 4 ast, 3 blk(!), +28(!)

Hopefully this is not a one off performance, that would ease the sting from Gordon's absence.
 

Bernie Carbohydrate

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Kanter’s weakness isn’t exactly “defense”; it’s PnR defense and rim protection, which, to be fair, are usually the sum total of “defense” for a center.

The thing is, Kanter is a very good post defender. He’s an ox with quick hands who moves his feet well in limited space. He’s done a credible job on Embiid throughout his career, and the Sixers simply don’t have the personnel to expose his very real deficiencies.
This---

Philly's best chance to score is to throw it to Embiid in the low post. But the only defense Kanter can play is low post defense. We all know that the way to exploit Kanter's lack of speed is to make him run out to the wing, force him to switch, and get him matched up against a smaller, quicker player. But in the post, Kanter can take advantage of his size and stay home.

It's okay if Embiid scores on Kanter, as long as Kanter makes Embiid work hard for the bucket. Wrestle on the block a bit, lean on him, make Embiid dig in. Embiid is a great player, and he's going to get his points. But each collision with Kanter takes a little out of Embiid, and if Kanter spends 20 minutes per game draped over the Philly big man, that pays off in the 4th quarter. We bring in a fresh big, and Embiid is gassed and frustrated.
 
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benhogan

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Kanter’s weakness isn’t exactly “defense”; it’s PnR defense and rim protection, which, to be fair, are usually the sum total of “defense” for a center.

The thing is, Kanter is a very good post defender. He’s an ox with quick hands who moves his feet well in limited space. He’s done a credible job on Embiid throughout his career, and the Sixers simply don’t have the personnel to expose his very real deficiencies.
agree with all of this (and Bernie's additional commentary)

Toronto has the guards, 5s that can pick/pop and coaching to expose Kanter's deficiencies

but IMO there is value in knowing what you'll get from Enes and the guy has a lot of high leverage playoff experience. I believe the Brad Machine can make him a C- defender against bench players. So even in a series with Toronto or Milwaukee, we could see Enes playing an effective 10mpg against their bench (but Toronto will def be tricky)
 
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Bernie Carbohydrate

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agree with all of this (and Bernie's additional commentary)

Toronto has the guards, 5s that can pick/pop and coaching to expose Kanter's deficiencies

but IMO there is value in knowing what you'll get from Enes and the guy has a lot of high leverage playoff experience. I believe the Brad Machine can make him a C- defender against bench players. So even in a series with Toronto or Milwaukee, we could see Enes playing an effective 10mpg against their bench (but Toronto will def be tricky)
And then cometh TIME LORD! There's your quick rim protector, and he's starting figure out P&R defense. So next round the minutes at the 5 flow to the better matchup.

God I love this team.
 

BaseballJones

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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
It really doesn't matter what number he is on any particular list. The question is: can the Celtics win an NBA championship with Jayson Tatum as their best player?
 

benhogan

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And then cometh TIME LORD! There's your quick rim protector, and he's starting figure out P&R defense. So next round the minutes at the 5 flow to the better matchup.

God I love this team.
Grant did a really good job on Gasol in the 1st meeting this year, and I’d be fine putting him on Ibaka too.
a 4-headed monster at the 5 that costs a grand total of $14MM.
 

nighthob

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It really doesn't matter what number he is on any particular list. The question is: can the Celtics win an NBA championship with Jayson Tatum as their best player?
Jayson Tatum is a one man wrecking crew. Even at the season's start he was a defensive monster that provided good offensive support. In the new year a switch flipped and he morphed into Durant Lite bombing threes from everywhere and breaking opponents' wills on both ends of the floor.

But here in the bubble? He's become a monster. He's developing in front of our eyes the knack for knowing when he has to put the team on his back and rip the hearts out of other teams and when he can lay back offensively because his teammates are getting the job done. Players don't normally pick that feel for the game up so young. You expect guys that can bomb away like Jayson to just keep firing, but it's precisely because he's fine with laying back that gives Boston the ability to roll all those scorers onto the floor at once. And bodes really well for them going forward.
 

joe dokes

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Kanter’s weakness isn’t exactly “defense”; it’s PnR defense and rim protection, which, to be fair, are usually the sum total of “defense” for a center.

The thing is, Kanter is a very good post defender. He’s an ox with quick hands who moves his feet well in limited space. He’s done a credible job on Embiid throughout his career, and the Sixers simply don’t have the personnel to expose his very real deficiencies.
And he also looked about as "nimble"/healthy as he has all year. So whatever he has, he's able to give it all.
 

scottyno

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I hope philly keeps running out of the defense where their all nba defender covers no one and someone on the cs can get an open foul line jumper every possession if they want it. That's worked well so far.
 

benhogan

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I hope philly keeps running out of the defense where their all nba defender covers no one and someone on the cs can get an open foul line jumper every possession if they want it. That's worked well so far.
2nd team All-Defense last season...makes you wonder
 

lovegtm

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Nice thread here by Weiss about how icing everything would be the obvious counter for Philly. Can’t believe I forgot that option l, especially since it’s what the Celtics do whenever they have to play Kanter against a team with good pullup shooters.

View: https://twitter.com/JaredWeissNBA/status/1296500346097893376?s=20


I still think the Celtics would counter with a lot of rescreening and actiona above the 3pt line, but definitely worth trying for Philly.
 

chilidawg

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And then cometh TIME LORD! There's your quick rim protector, and he's starting figure out P&R defense. So next round the minutes at the 5 flow to the better matchup.

God I love this team.
Seems Philly's defense, where Embiid just hangs back and concedes open jump shots, makes the rim running out of the PnR much tougher for TL.

Good piece in 538 on the C's defense on Embiid:

 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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Seems Philly's defense, where Embiid just hangs back and concedes open jump shots, makes the rim running out of the PnR much tougher for TL.

Good piece in 538 on the C's defense on Embiid:

That piece is great (thank you) and particularly the video montage at the bottom of the article. It essentially shows the Celtics defensive coordination in action, five moving as one entity.
 

DourDoerr

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Does the bubble help this young C's team? I'd guess yes as the lack of energy from an arena packed with fans might even out their emotions and keeps the adrenaline in check. The players are also being exposed to far fewer distractions - they're being forced to focus and the ability to focus is usually a big advantage for vet teams. CBS must be in heaven during practice. Added to that is their young legs will allow them to recover faster than the more veteran teams which might be a factor as this compressed schedule goes deeper. The growth Brown and Tatum experienced this season - along with this playoff format - are almost ideal outcomes for this squad.
 

NomarsFool

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I would think they get far more coaching in the bubble than they do in normal circumstances. I once had an opportunity to speak with someone involved with the Celtics once, and one of the most eye opening things about that conversation was how little the team normally practices during the regular season. I don't know, but I would think that in the bubble they are far more focused on basketball and basketball only. For these young players who have so much to learn, I would think that would be enormously helpful. Much less helpful than for the Lebron James' of the NBA.
 

nighthob

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I think it helps Boston to the extent that they have/had lots of vet stars, who generally play well no matter where they are. They don't rely as much on the Grant Williamses of the world, who're precisely the sort of guys that struggle on the road.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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I was never super high on Al to Philly, but watching them run their offense I now have no fucking idea why they signed him. This is a front office that doesn’t understand its roster enough to pass on a guy just because he is available and because other guys spurned you.

With no lead guard who is a real threat to shoot (and this is true with or without Simmons), you take away any possibility of the high post pick and pop/handoff type stuff that the Boston offense excelled at with Al. No plan.
 

DJnVa

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I was never super high on Al to Philly, but watching them run their offense I now have no fucking idea why they signed him. This is a front office that doesn’t understand its roster enough to pass on a guy just because he is available and because other guys spurned you.

With no lead guard who is a real threat to shoot (and this is true with or without Simmons), you take away any possibility of the high post pick and pop/handoff type stuff that the Boston offense excelled at with Al. No plan.
Yeah but they FUCKING COMPETE!
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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The Sixers just don't have enough offense to compete with any of the contenders.

Meanwhile, Boston loses Hayward and Tatum has an off game so they trot out a thirsty Kemba Walker who proceeds to exert his will during a rock fight.

The Cs could use a few days off. They should be very motivated to end the 76ers, who are likely ready to be bounced from the bubble, Sunday afternoon.