Friday, April 19, 2024

Cruise management: 10 takeaways from Celtics/Jazz


#1 A distinct model of Tatum

A typical theme this season has been to query Jayson Tatum’s scoring manufacturing. All people is aware of he’s able to being among the many league leaders in factors per sport. And all of us got here into the season questioning how lengthy it might take to see Tatum document his first 50-point sport of the season. That hasn’t been his position this yr, although.

As a substitute, Tatum has been an elite-level level ahead. He’s been at his greatest when orchestrating play, controlling the glass and attacking mismatches within the submit. That doesn’t imply he can’t dominate as a major offensive choice. It simply signifies that with the expertise on the Celtics roster, Tatum hasn’t wanted to be the “alpha” within the common sense of the phrase. Nonetheless, he has been producing “alpha” performances differently.

But, Tatum’s position was adjusted with Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis each out of the rotation in opposition to the Utah Jazz. Out of the blue, a Utah workforce that’s ranked twenty ninth within the NBA needed to try to cease one of the skillful scorers within the NBA when he was tasked with spearheading the offense. Robust instances.

This was Tatum’s first bucket. That is who he’s now. He’s a pressure when driving the lane. He’s sturdy sufficient to dislodge, or on this case dismiss, his defender, and he’s very happy to blow up across the rim.

One other factor that Tatum does effectively nowadays is rating out of the pick-and-roll — as each a ball-handler and the screener. You’re simply as more likely to see Tatum be the “popper” in a pick-and-pop as you might be to see him snaking his dribble over a display because the ball-handler. That type of versatility can provide defenses nightmares. How will you guard a participant that cycles between being the screener and the screenie?

Right here he’s because the “popper.”

Because the curler.

And because the ball-handler.

Once you think about his potential to function as a catch-and-shoot menace and his dominance within the submit, it’s exhausting to poke holes in Tatum’s offensive skillset. He’s genuinely one of the pure scorers within the league. The distinction is that he expanded his sport to be greater than only a scorer, and that has led him into some very deep waters.

Some nights, the Celtics want the high-scoring model of Tatum. Most nights, they want the whole ahead model, that’s the participant we’ve seen all season, and that’s the participant we are going to see in the course of the playoffs.

#2 Kornet retains Kornet’ing

One other post-All-Star sport, one other strong evening for Luke Kornet. He stepped into the Celtics beginning lineup in opposition to the Jazz. Al Horford and Kristaps Porzingis had been each on the harm report.

What I like about Kornet’s sport is that he’s discovered a method to exist on the perimeter regardless of not being a three-point menace. He’s embraced a task as a hand-off hub and a screen-and-roll large, whereas he’s additionally enhancing together with his work on the offensive glass.

Kornet has turn into extremely comfy initiating hand-offs across the elbow prolonged and may orchestrate empty-side DHOs from related places, too. His dimension and body make him a troublesome physique to navigate for the chasing protection, permitting him to spring the ball receiver free after handing the ball off. From there, Kornet has proven a capability to stream right into a secondary display to roll to the rim.

On offense, Kornet primarily will get his buckets out of rim-runs and curler conditions. Nonetheless, his baseline reduce in opposition to Utah was a shocking growth that made me sit up and take discover.

Kornet’s contract expires on the finish of the season, and he’ll turn into an unrestricted free agent. If he continues to supply worth as Boston’s third large within the rotation and exhibits a various skillset inside a five-out offense that thrives on movement, there’ll little doubt be some groups lurking in the summertime.

#3 Oshae Brissett’s minutes had been good

Like, actually good. Brissett has carved out a pleasant area of interest position for himself with the Celtics. He’s an vitality man who causes havoc together with his hustle and physicality. No rebound is secure when Brissett is crashing the glass. No reduce or driving lane is open, both.

Once you take a look at the boxscore, as I needed to yesterday, it might have been simple to imagine that Brissett had a comparatively quiet evening. That’s why I don’t like wanting on the field rating and asking it to color an image. The teachings are taught on the court docket. Brissett was impactful. He elevated the Celtics’ on-ball strain, fought for free balls, and galvanized his workforce.

Personally, I’m not anticipating to see a lot Brissett as soon as the postseason begins. Not until the Celtics have to jolt of vitality to get again right into a sport or halt a run. But, figuring out he’s on the bench and may make his presence felt immediately is a consolation blanket that each contending workforce must have. Brissett isn’t an enforcer, however his physicality, vitality and explosiveness can provide the Celtics a special dimension when wanted.

#4 One other take a look at Tillman

We have not often seen him since Xavier Tillman was acquired earlier than the February 8 commerce deadline. Nonetheless, with Horford and Porzingis each sidelined, we did get one other prolonged take a look at the versatile large man.

Total, Tillman performed his position effectively. He occupied the proper spots on the ground. He discovered success as a screener. Displayed some physicality within the paint. Secured rebounds on each ends of the court docket. And he drained a 3.

Tillman has the talent set to imitate Horford’s position inside the rotation. He’s not going to be as dependable from the perimeter when it comes to scoring. Nonetheless, his positioning, defensive versatility, and physicality within the paint will assist spell the veteran’s minutes when wanted.

Whether or not Tillman cracks the playoff rotation or is used as a situational large stays to be seen. It could seem he’s able to excelling in both position. Nonetheless, with Kornet forward of him within the rotation, it’s exhausting to see the place Tillman’s minutes would come from if he needed constant taking part in time this season.

Nonetheless, the expertise is there, and he performs a cerebral model of basketball. If Joe Mazzulla needs to combine him into the rotation, there’s little doubt he would discover a method to make it work.

#5 A number of nook actions

The Celtics have explored a number of methods to assault out of the corners this season. They’ve run stagger actions for shooters to raise out, a number of variations of “Zoom” actions, some “21” and a few “Pistol,” and a few low-angle pick-and-roll offense.

But, the most typical means the Celtics have pressured the protection is by working empty-side (or empty-corner) units. If there’s no shooter within the nook, there’s no protection, both, thus creating extra room to drive or to stream right into a tough-to-contest jumper.

The above clip is kind of a failed instance. Payton Pritchard rejects the display from Tillman and decides to isolate. Nonetheless, the spacing within the sturdy facet nook is evident to see. It’s evident how simple these kind of actions could be to control, particularly when you’ve spacing across the perimeter.

We will see the Celtics going again to an empty nook motion within the above clip. This time, Tatum can duck right into a post-up following his display. Once more, the Celtics can exploit the extra area by not having a shooter within the nook. Tatum’s shot does not fall, however the general course of is one we’ve seen work all through the season.

Boston moved away from attacking empty corners as a core a part of its technique earlier within the season. I like the thought of iterating via its playbook and completely different offensive approaches because the postseason attracts close to. For me, the Celtics’’ capturing and slashing expertise make attacking empty sides a logical selection. I’d anticipate to see extra of this within the coming weeks.

#6 Dunker spot Jrue, once more

To begin with, it was superior seeing Jrue Vacation flash some off-the-dribble creation in opposition to Utah. He was robust to include when driving into the protection and seeking to make reads as soon as the Jazz regarded to break down. Right here he’s penetrating off the bounce earlier than hitting Sam Hauser to finish the “Spain PnR” motion.

But, as I’ve stated at a number of instances this season, it’s Vacation’s upside as an inverted dunker spot menace that continues to catch my consideration.

Vacation is an clever participant. He reads the sport effectively, can see the ground like a playmaker, and may function at a number of positions. That’s why having him occupy the dunker spot in possessions just like the above is so intriguing. Watch how he relocates to the sturdy facet dunker to “brief” the pick-and-roll and obtain the go from Tatum. That enables Vacation to hit the contact go to the rolling Kornet for the dunk.

This season, we haven’t seen the Celtics run a lot “brief” motion. Often, Vacation would come larger up the ground for most of these units. Nonetheless, his worth within the dunker spot as a passer, determination maker and scorer makes it logical to maintain him hovering across the baseline.

#7 An aggressive D-White

With so many members of the Celtics rotation lacking, White stepped right into a secondary offensive position. He ended the sport with 24 factors, hitting 7-of-11 from deep. It’s been some time since we’ve seen White taking part in with this kind of pressure and aggressiveness on offense. At instances, it felt just like the Jazz had been struggling to include him.

With an even bigger give attention to scoring the ball, we didn’t see a lot of White’s playmaking potential — that accountability fell to Vacation.

It is no secret that White can iterate via completely different roles throughout a sport. Regardless of his give attention to offense, he’ll at all times be a dependable defender — as displayed by his three blocks in opposition to Utah.

After the sport White stated that he got here into the sport with the mindset of simply “letting it fly.” That technique appeared to work. I’m not too certain about Kornet’s La La Land joke, although.

#8 Pritchard’s eye take a look at didn’t match the stat sheet

On the stat sheet, Pritchard had a troublesome evening. He went 3-for-12 from the sphere and 2-for-9 from the perimeter. He didn’t actually make an impression as a playmaker or a rebounder. But, when watching the sport, his potential to alter the tempo, cycle via his gears and push the tempo on the break gave Boston an edge off each missed shot.

Pritchard can be actually good at recognizing when to get off the ball and relocate, which permits him to maintain the Celtics’ spacing alive and use his deep capturing vary to generate gravity. On paper, Pritchard had a troublesome evening in opposition to the Jazz. Nonetheless, he performed his position effectively, impacting the sport in areas that don’t seem on the stat sheet.

It could not have been his greatest efficiency, however it was removed from his worst.

I’ll go away you with this nice clip of Pritchard utilizing a “gradual step” behind the again crossover to cook dinner his defender in transition and open up a lane to assault the rim. Actually fairly stuff.

#9 No room for Neemy

With Horford and Porzingis each out, and Kornet transferring into the beginning lineup, I had type of anticipated Queta to fit right into a third-big position. Nonetheless, Mazzulla opted to stay with Kornet and Tillman all through the sport, leaving the two-way heart as the one DNP-CD of the sport for the Celtics.

Jaden Springer, Svi Mykhailiuk and JD Davison all obtained some taking part in time. I’ve been skeptical relating to any potential minutes for Neemy for the reason that addition of Tillman. Seeing him caught on the bench when the first heart rotation has been chopped and altered was a fairly telling signal.

#10 These video games are a formality

At this level within the season, with the primary seed all however assured, these video games are a formality. We all know it. The workforce is aware of it. The remainder of the league is aware of it. But, the Celtics should undergo the method.

I like having a stretch on the finish of the season to work on issues and look to tighten up some elements of the offense and protection. I additionally like that different groups are nonetheless combating for one thing, forcing the Celtics to stay centered and proceed chipping away at a possible 60-win season.

Nonetheless, the playoffs might be right here earlier than we all know it. That is the calm earlier than the storm. That is the prequel to a possible blockbuster film. And we’re right here for all of it.

Trying forward

The Celtics are again in motion on Thursday. They are going to have a rematch in opposition to the Phoenix Suns. This time, the sport might be on the TD Backyard. I’m to see how the Celtics look to restrict Phoenix’s offense, as they’ll undoubtedly be seeking to even the season collection.

Hopefully, the Celtics rotation might be again at full power, with Porzingis being the participant I’m most hopeful to see after his three-game (and counting) absence. Win or lose, we might be again right here on Friday morning to dissect the sport. Hopefully, we might be speaking in regards to the Celtics fourth straight win. How shortly issues change.

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