Jaylen Brown damage speaks to the fragility of Boston’s make-up

Jaylen Brown (l.) and Ime Udoka

Jaylen Brown (l.) and Ime Udoka
Photograph: Getty Pictures

I virtually wrote in regards to the Celtics on Tuesday as a result of I heard about these projections that had them with heavy title odds, however after I went to FiveThirtyEight to attempt to discover them, it felt like I used to be making an attempt to decipher binary code. So I held off to attend to see if something got here of the analysis I loosely began.

What I discovered earlier than Jaylen Brown rolled his ankle in Boston’s comeback win over Atlanta later that night, was that Ime Udoka had basically adopted an eight-man rotation throughout their present run of fantastic kind. It’s been the starters — Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Robert Williams, Marcus Good, and Brown — with Derrick White, Grant Williams, and Payton Pritchard coming off the bench. When former-Celtic-turned-current-Celtic Horford rests, former-Celtic-turned-current-Celtic Daniel Theis fills in.

Solely trusting eight gamers in your crew isn’t essentially a foul factor. Most coaches parse down their rotations throughout the playoffs already. It simply places pressure in your starters throughout the common season when each one among them is averaging proper round half-hour per sport. As a bunch, they common 161 minutes per sport. There are solely 240 potential minutes in an NBA sport, which suggests these 5 guys eat up two thirds of the taking part in time. That’s up there with Utah, Miami, Phoenix, and Cleveland for many minutes performed by starters within the league, according to Rotowire.

Udoka mentioned after the sport that Brown needed to return, however the crew determined to sit down him for precautionary causes (via ESPN). Second-year small ahead Aaron Nesmith earned some non-garbage taking part in time after Brown left early within the sport, but it surely was all three rotational bench gamers who noticed spikes in minutes.

The crew’s protection bailed them out once more within the second half, and with the ability to depend on your protection is an efficient factor. It’s simply the diploma of problem on offense with Brown and Tatum is so insane that clearly whoever fills these minutes isn’t going to have the ability to make the sorts of performs and pictures that Brown can. Simply because Good thinks he can doesn’t imply you need him taking pictures an off-balance something.

With 18 video games left on the schedule and Toronto solely a sport and a half behind them for the sixth and ultimate non-play-in seed, we’ll see how lengthy they’re keen to let it heal. Brown’s damage doesn’t sound severe, however 5 of their subsequent six video games are in opposition to groups at present within the playoffs, and now could be nearly as good of a time as ever to strive to determine find out how to manufacture factors in a pinch.

The postseason is a distinct beast, and there are going to be video games when one of many two ultra-talented wings doesn’t have it going or is in foul bother. Their phenomenal protection will assist, however there’s no stopping a few of the opposition they’ll face within the playoffs.

The 76ers, Bucks, and Nets have guys who can rating irrespective of the way you guard them, and DeMar Derozan has been on that stage with the Bulls this season. Jimmy Butler can get there, too, however I feel a Celtics-Warmth playoff sequence could be a rock battle.

Boston has the third greatest scoring protection this season behind Dallas and Cleveland, and the rationale we don’t speak about any of these groups as title favorites is an absence of scoring. The Mavs would want a historic effort from Luka Dončić simply to make the Finals. Darius Garland and Evan Mobley are nowhere close to the gamers they must be to go deep within the playoffs.

Brown and Tatum are nearing the purpose of their careers the place they will conceivably take a torch and gasoline to the playoffs, however you need to surprise if the remainder of the crew will be capable of spark something with a flint and a few tinder when the time calls. Perhaps they will a minimum of discover a gimmick lineup or get White to achieve again into his Colorado days for just a few video games a sequence.

The perfect likelihood of constructing a official Finals run could be if the gamers not named Jayson or Jaylen went full Spurs supporting solid and elevated their play by elevating one another.

This can be a completely different crew than the one I wrote about earlier within the season when Good was complaining about not getting the ball. We’re lastly seeing the cohesion that obtained them to an Jap Convention Finals Recreation 7 in opposition to Cleveland in 2017.

Whereas an ideal protection has broadened their margin for error — permitting Tatum or Brown to overlook a troublesome shot, or Good to clank a foul one — counting on stops turns into vastly harder when your opponents can match you fadeaway for fadeaway.

I don’t know something about title favorites, however that is beginning to seem like the crew we envisioned they’d be 5 years in the past. Add a touch of depth, they usually may go a good distance. 

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