Celtics Notes: Storylines, Hayward, Brown, Assets

In a recent article, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston wrote about four storylines to watch in anticipation of the Celtics next game against the Knicks tomorrow night: offensive improvement while Kyrie Irving is on the bench, reintegrating Jaylen Brown, the long-term starters, and minutes to go around when everybody is healthy.

The Celtics own a team-best offensive rating of 109.6 when Irving is on the court this season, a figure that would place Boston in the NBA’s top ten. But when Irving sits, that number drops to 95, which would rank far below the Hawks’ league worst rating of 100.5.

Brown has missed the last three games after suffering a back bruise against the Mavericks a couple weeks back. He could start tomorrow night, but the team has won three games in a row with Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris starting, and head coach Brad Stevens may elect to keep that group intact.

Stevens’ challenge in selecting who to start is figuring out how to balance the lineup with the most talent, and thus the most potential, with the lineup that is giving the team the most success right now. Eventually, Boston might work its way back to the Irving-Brown-Jayson TatumGordon HaywardAl Horford lineup, but keeping Smart and Morris on the bench is a risk.

In the Celtics’ last four wins, they’ve been shorthanded, which some may argue shows that some players play better with more minutes. Terry Rozier has reportedly conveyed his displeasure with his playing time already this season, and as mentioned above, Stevens will need to balance playing time between Smart, Morris, Hayward, and Brown as the season plays out.

There’s more from Boston:

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald writes that Hayward’s struggle to reintegrate himself after last season’s horrific injury is also a result of how much the Celtics have changed since he arrived in the summer of 2017.
  • In another piece for NBC Sports Boston, Forsberg relays that Brown is open to coming of the bench in his return from injury. Brown downplayed the significance of becoming a reserve, and said he will embrace any role Stevens has in mind for him.
  • As we relayed yesterday, the value of some of the Celtics trade assets have depreciated a little this season, with the Kings, Clippers, and Grizzlies outperforming expectations and Brown not as impressive as many anticipated.
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16 thoughts on “Celtics Notes: Storylines, Hayward, Brown, Assets

  1. Reflect

    The offensive rating of 95 is meaningless without an apples-to-apples context. What rating do other teams have when their best player is on the bench? What rating do other teams have without their point guard?

  2. Read article today saying Tatum is still playing well, but “all” of Brown’s numbers are down. Says now may be a time for Celtics to consider trading Brown.

  3. noahrnoahr

    The regular season is one thing, but I just don’t understand how Boston can expect to run out two of the worst defensive starters in the league — Irving and Tatum — and win in the playoffs.

    Tatum will probably win an MVP some day because of his offense, but he is the worst defensive wing starter in the league. He still looks completely confused on defense about half the time, pretty bad the rest of the time and he does not seem to be trying. He’s regressed substantially on that end of the court from last season, and that’s really saying something.

    And Kyrie… it’s tough when he’s not your worst defensive starter. After getting a bit better at D the past couple of years, he seems to have given that up entirely. Then, when you add Hayward to that lineup, it’s even worse because he’s playing the worst D he’s played in years.

    That lineup is elite offensively, but it relies way too much on Horford and Brown (and hoping Hayward improves) on defense. It’s hard to make lineup and roster decisions when your two best offensive players (by far) are among the worst defensive players in the league. You can’t trade Kyrie because, as this article points out, your offense is bad without him. So, what, you trade a future MVP? That seems nuts, unless you can get an elite player back.

    So, can they? Is there an option where they move Tatum and others for an elite player? Can they get Davis for Tatum, Morris, Brown and say the Kings pick? If Boston is really going to compete in the postseason, they have to make a move like that.

    If they make that move, Smart becomes a full-time starter and they have strong defenders at three positions: SG, PF and C, which takes the pressure off of Hayward and allows Kyrie to be the worst defender on the team. There are also more minutes for Rozier, who is also a better defender than Kyrie or Tatum, and which would probably help in the clubhouse because he’s all salty right now.

    • Spike4christ

      Irving is playing way better D this year. Tatum needs to play some D or he will not be a MVP with no D. I think Brown should stay on the Bench and be the focal point of O for them and let Heyward play the defacto PG.

    • x%sure

      Irving’s defensive +/- has gone from -2.3 to +0.7 to +1.3 in the last 3 seasons… I think that problem has been mostly fixed.
      link to hoopsrumors.com

      Irving’s leadership in-ability will be harder to fix, and so is his main problem.

      Maybe Tatum got spoiled. @noahr is about the first person to criticize him that I have seen. He started right away with no break-in period and any error is always forgiven. Bagley in Sacto could turn out better, having to prove himself first.

      • noahrnoahr

        RPM is meaningless after 22 games and doesn’t even mean much when you’re anywhere short of a full season. And it doesn’t do a good job adjusting for quality of teammates (especially compared to ORPM) or playing on different teams, which is to say that if Irving’s DRPM was essentially guaranteed to go up when he left a team with only one or two above average defenders to join a team with several of them.

        People don’t criticize Tatum because he is elite offensively. I actually see him as very similar to Bagley, who also looks like a huge defensive problem (obviously, at different positions). Bagley is a lot like former Julius Randle or his former fellow Dukies Boozer or Brand. Physical, a good scorer, may rebound well. There have been plenty of defenseless SGs to compare Tatum to. Mitch Richmond comes to mind as a good comparison.

        • x%sure

          ? I don’t see the similarity. Richmond was a muscley bold 2G who liked the middle of the court and dominating. Tatum is a smart skinny sneaky F with sudden long quick steps who looks best on the wings.

          And Bagley, you probably state the majority opinion, a one-position 4, but I’m not sure he’s a fixed thing yet. Which at 19 is not a bad thing.
          But I like that comparison. . . the three Duke 4-B’s. . . Boozer Brand Bagley!

  4. Kyrie’s stats on a well balanced team: 22.2 ppg, .481/.388/.824 shooting line, leads Celtics in assists and steals Basketball Reference.com

    • Kyrie was 26th in the NBA in defensive rating last season and is currently 30th this season. NBA,com defensive ratings

    • noahrnoahr

      Elite offensively. Among the league’s worst defensively. He’s so good at offense that this would be okay except that he’s regularly on the court with another guard who is elite offensively and among the league’s worst defensively. They have great players, but a badly constructed roster.

  5. Well, if Harden can win an MVP, so can Tatum some day. Harden plays no defense either.

    Things can change, personnel can change and teams can mesh, but at this point I just don’t see the C’s beating the Raptors in a seven game series.

    • noahrnoahr

      Harden plays more defense than Steve Nash did, and Nash won two in a row.

  6. all in ad

    C’s fans: R E L A X!
    You have a great coach who will make all these great pieces work. Rozier needs to be told: STFU and do your job.

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