The solutions all alongside had been fairly easy. For many of the season, the Celtics have been unhealthy in probably the most Celtics methods doable, as they’ve missed probably the most video games to COVID-related well being and security protocols by an enormous margin. The problems with the offense have largely been systemic moderately than people with excessive turnovers, low free throws, low effectivity, and customarily low all the pieces. Till now!
Following the crew’s win over the Lakers and street journey three-game sweep, the Celtics rank seventeenth in turnovers dedicated. Their 14.1 turnovers per recreation is notably higher than earlier within the season, even when it nonetheless ranks them within the backside half of the league. Solely 9 turnovers had been dedicated in every recreation towards the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets, in comparison with 21 towards the Hospital Lakers. Six of these got here within the preemptive rubbish time from the third-stringers whereas Brad was stockpiling timeouts. Nonetheless, the Celtics’ starters constructed a 20+ level lead by not giving the ball away at an alarming tempo regardless of giving the ball up too many instances with dangerous full-court passes.
Free throw totals have fluctuated, though I don’t care about crew totals as a lot as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown’s. Three of Tatum’s final 4 video games on the line are fairly encouraging:
vs. Minnesota: 15-16
@ Denver: 8-8
@ Portland: 8-10
@ Los Angeles: zero free throws tried, which is actually fantastic as a result of Jaylen was completely cooking.
TNT: Tatum and Thompson
Tatum’s true taking pictures proportion has slowly crept as much as 57.2%, nearly precisely even with the league’s average. The components for elevated effectivity is precisely what you’d anticipate—ending on the rim, incomes free throws, and hitting threes. Some credit score right here goes to Tristan Thompson who seems like a brand new man after getting COVID, which is probably the most weird factor I’ve ever typed out. Boston ditching the double-big lineup at the price of dumping Daniel Theis has achieved nicely for the beginning lineup, regardless of some gradual begins. This clip, and the breakdown by Nekias, has each profit multi functional:
We all know Jayson Tatum (@jaytatum0) is bonafide bucket-getter, and the seeds of reactive passing have been rising over the previous couple of seasons.
However what occurs when the manipulation begins exhibiting up? We get magic.
️SOUND ON pic.twitter.com/XZPbF2S13u
— (Nuh-KY-us) Duncan (@NekiasNBA) April 16, 2021
Thompson helps Tatum probe the protection whereas three different Celtics threaten to attain from the perimeter. Tatum drives and makes the proper learn. It’s excellent. That is the way it ought to work, and naturally it wasn’t doable with the Thompson/Theis lineup.
As well as, Thompson’s six blocks prior to now seven video games has achieved nicely sufficient to make up for Theis’ misplaced protection. Right here’s one thing I seen after the Celtics beat the Knicks:
Undecided what modified with Tristan Thompson however he had solely 13 blocks in 36 video games earlier than final night time, when he recorded 3 blocks. So almost 1/4 of his whole for the season in 22 minutes.
— Jeremy&Jeremy (@JeremyWCT) April 8, 2021
Grant Williams, who’s shared lots of entrance court docket minutes with Thompson currently, has additionally proven flashes of being a gradual defender after a brutal first half of the season.
Plus/minus isn’t the very best indicator for private success, however Grant is plus-74 in Boston’s final eight video games, so he has do be doing one thing proper. The Celtics have been considerably higher within the second half, which is when Grant tends to do his finest work as nicely. Lillard was sort of begging for his layup to get stuffed within the clip above, however Grant is such a foul magnet that any blocks and prices drawn by him are a victory in my ebook. And when you think about how ghastly the Celtics’ fourth quarter execution was earlier within the season, it’s fairly the posh for his or her ninth finest participant to thrive within the fourth quarter.
The final massive change to the Celtics’ scheme is the obvious: Rob Williams as a starter. Thirty-four assists in 10 video games is astronomically increased than I anticipated, and do you know he was seventh within the league in blocked photographs? Seventh! For reference, Myles Turner leads the league in blocked photographs with 159 in 1422 minutes performed, whereas Rob has 84 blocks in 888 minutes performed. Per 100 possessions, Turner leads him by solely 0.8 blocks.
Good bodily well being is unsurprisingly on the core of Boston’s current success, however the uptick in shot blocking, passing, and free throws (largely by Tatum) are precisely what the crew wanted to show the nook. Pulling down threes is vital as nicely, however I believe these come on account of taking good care of all the opposite little issues, not the opposite manner round. Driving the ball opens up passing lanes and forces defenders to assist off of shooters. Tightening up the protection results in extra transition offense. Capturing the ball nicely, however, doesn’t actually result in these different issues. So, when the Jays aren’t taking pictures the lights out, the Celtics have proven they nonetheless have the opposite needed instruments to win. I hope.