The Celtics had a very short rotation this playoffs. Most scoring came from the starting lineup with half coming from Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown alone. Relying on four players to win games isn’t a recipe for success. Gordon Hayward coming back was a help but he was limited due to his injury. Brad Wanamaker, the backup point guard, averaged nearly 5 points and under 2 assists. For championship contention, a team needs more than that, plain and simple.
Additionally, the Celtics need more size and performance from their front court. Rob Williams and Daniel Theis were great in their roles but weren’t enough. Brad Stevens constantly tried different rotations at the 5 to see what worked and none were that effective. The problem is none of the players are taller than 6’8.” Bam Adebayo was brilliant against the Celtics in the Eastern Finals because the Celtics had no answer for him. They tried to play Theis in drop coverage but his mid-range shooting was too good. Grant Williams played well against him but was at a size disadvantage. Bam’s passing and scoring was too efficient and Boston didn’t have an answer. The Celtics have a few centers who do things well, but not one that is the whole package. This offseason they should try to find a big with more speed, defense, and decent scoring.
It shouldn’t be discounted that this team is still very young. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are several years away from their actual primes. Us, as fans, expect more from them because they have overperformed for how young they are. The Williams bigs are also very young. Rob Williams is explosive and talented but it’s going to take him some years to hone his skills. Grant Williams was spectacular but hasn’t figured out how to be effective offensively yet.
Brad Stevens has often been criticized for his lack of offensive creativity. He’s even been called “basic Brad” in some circles. This can be true in some instances, as was evident in the eastern conference finals. Much of the Celtics offense was one player with the ball and the other four watching. In order for the Celtics to improve the offense needs to be more dynamic. Stevens goes back and forth with more action and no action at all. The Celtics need to run more off ball screens and dribble hand offs in order to get the offense going and break through tough zone coverage.
Overall, this team still has a lot of potential and room to grow. Expect to see them back in the conference finals or the NBA finals next year.
(Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)