If the Celtics really want to embrace their identity, their sales department will get Six Flags on as a sponsor immediately. This is a roller coaster of a season that is currently on a big down swing.
But those roller coasters have to go back up again… and a nationally televised game against a streaking team on a back-to-back seems like the perfect set up for the Celtics to win a game most people would peg as a loss. Here’s how they can do it.
1: Put Crowder on Butler
According to NBASavant.com, Butler is shooting under 32% against Jae Crowder. It’s a small sample size, but I say the Celtics should try to cut the head off this snake and put our best defender on him. Butler is on a roll, and he’s not about to take a back seat to someone else. So bother him with Crowder’s size… help a little to prevent any drives into the lane… and maybe he’ll go cold.
2: Start Smart and Turner
This is a situational.. but here’s my thinking…
- Isaiah Thomas has some nagging injuries, so let’s back off his minutes a little
- Let Thomas find his groove again against the Bulls bench
- Use some size to combat the Bulls’ size
So the matchups should look like this:
Marcus Smart – Derrick Rose
Evan Turner – Nikola Mirotic
Jae Crowder – Jimmy Butler
Amir Johnson – Taj Gibson
Kelly Olynyk – Pau Gasol
I don’t want to make this into a bigger thing… I think it’s a situation where it’s smart to bring Thomas off the bench. I doubt Stevens will do it, but I think it fills a need. The obvious question about this is… how do the Celtics score? My hopeful answer is “with the defense forcing turnovers.”
3: Find some way to break 100 points
The Celtics offense can look bad sometimes. Like… some of the worst basketball you’ll see. Not having Avery Bradley hurts a lot because he can get hot with the jumper AND rip a few guys on D to start some fast breaks.
However, the Bulls are 17-1 this season when allowing fewer than 100 points, and 4-11 when allowing 100 or more. Their success is still built on defense, so the Celtics NEEEEEEEEEEED to flip some switch somewhere, somehow, to get guys on the board.
Personally, I’m looking at Kelly Olynyk. If he’s guarded by Pau Gasol, then aggressively attack and force him to move his feet. Post him up, take advantage of the youth and quickness.
Good things happen when Olynyk is in his aggressive scoring mode… I’d LOVE to see that kick in tonight. That, along with some of the great passing we saw last night, would be a massive help.
4: Please don’t let up
Here’s me begging again…
Hey Celtics… I hope you saw it last night… AGAIN. When the ball moves and guys are aggressive, the offense produces opportunities. When the ball just moves around the perimeter and guys settle for 3’s, then the whole thing goes to shit.
I want to be clear that I’m not opposed to shooting 3’s. If the Celtics get 40 good looks from 3 within the flow of the offense, then that’s what’s there and I say take it. But if the Celtics get too comfortable and start settling, then they’ll drop some ugly number like 9-40 and my face will melt off my head in frustration.
We know what both of these teams are capable of. On paper, we’ve got two teams moving in opposite directions about to meet on national TV. But the Celtics, somehow, are 10-6 on the road and almost perfect on the second night of road back-to-backs… which is their exact situation tonight. If they can do these few things, we’ll get to see the TNT crew fawning all over the Celtics rather than lamenting what they don’t have.