As most of you should know by now, Celtics basketball is returning to our lives today. Sure the Summer League was a nice appetizer earlier this summer, but now the real (fake) games are here and it’s safe to say I’m fairly excited. Everyone is back, healthy and ready to roll which has been a long time coming. Before we get into what we can expect to see from the squad, first there’s a little house cleaning to get to.
While no Marcus makes me sad, pretty sure he gets a pass to handle whatever is going on in his personal life. So while this will mean rotations will be a little different, I was curious as to how Brad might approach this first taste of competitive basketball, so I went back and did some homework. Last preseason in their opener also against CHA, no starter played more than 20 minutes. That five was Kyrie/Jaylen/Hayward/Horford/Baynes, so while I expect Tatum to be swapped with Baynes, I would imagine they are going to have that same sort of minutes limit. In other words, I don’t see Tatum playing the same 33 minutes he played in last year’s preseason opener. I mean we knew right away how good this team was going to be the second they hit the floor, if you forgot here’s your reminder
Personally I’m curious how seamless the starters look after only having a short time together. Things looked so on point last year in their limited opportunity I couldn’t get enough of the pick your poison offense. All the mismatches they are able to create by having literally 1-4 positions be able to run the pick and roll and spread the floor makes me a little half chubbed just thinking about it. To that point I can’t wait to see how Brad uses Hayward. I don’t think a lot of Celts fans realize how versatile he’s going to be on the offense end, especially when they run the offense through him as a point forward. Just take a second and try to picture an offensive set where Kyrie is setting the screen for Hayward and they do a little pick and pop? What are you going to do, now pay attention to Hayward coming off the screen and let him dunk? Or do you overcommit and then Kyrie is why open for a Fuck You Three? Even if the defense does a good job of rotating, either Jaylen or Tatum is going to have an open look. This has the potential to be the closest thing to a GS/HOU caliber offense the East has.
But being excited to see the starters isn’t really all that shocking. For me, I’m most intrigued to see how the second unit looks. With Smart out that probably means we’ll get more minutes from Rozier, a player who I am very interested to see what other elements he added to his game. This year for me is all about efficiency when it comes to Terry. We know he can ball the fuck out and play at a starter level. His next jump is not having like 32/35% splits. Much like Summer League was, this also should be a great opportunity for Semi to show why he deserves to be in the rotation. This summer we saw his defense was as good as ever, but what about the shot? If he can become a reliable 3 and D guy for this team as their like 11th man, you’re really cooking.
If I had to guess, Brad is going to give Yabu every opportunity to showcase his development as well. He played 15 minutes in last year’s opener, and I would expect (hope) this is more along the lines of like 20 to 25 minutes this time around. Not only because he rules, but also because they are getting pretty close to having to make a financial decision about Yabu and his future in Boston. He should be able to bully the shit out of both Marvin Williams and Frank The Tank at the PF spot, so this is absolutely a big game for him. I also haven’t seen the official word, but I’m going to assume Daniel Theis is playing. I would imagine Brad will be conservative with him as he hasn’t played since tearing his knee, but as long as he shows he can defend and rebound, maybe hit a three or two in like 15-20 minutes I’ll be happy. I will go to the grave that losing Theis was a much bigger loss for the Celts against CLE than many people think. Dude is just so perfect for this system.
Seeing as how this team also plays on Sunday against CHA, it wouldn’t shock me if Brad doesn’t blow his entire load in this first game. It’s all about getting your feet wet and getting back into the groove of playing. The good news is there hasn’t been a ton of roster turnover, so the chemistry and understanding of the system shouldn’t be an issue. It would not shock me in the slightest if they stepped onto the court and looked as if nothing has changed. At the end of the day I have a pretty shot checklist of things I would like to see
1. Everyone stays healthy
2. Yabu dominates
3. The defense looks as crisp as ever
4. Everyone stays healthy…seriously
5. They win.
That’s it. Do that and I’ll be going to bed happy (yeah right no chance I sleep tonight). I’m just happy our wait is finally over and Celtics basketball has returned to our lives. Now I just need the clock to hurry the hell up.