The Boston-Philly Game 7 tonight is absolutely going to be about the starters. If Celtics starters play their A-game, these 76ers shouldn't be able to hold a candle to them. A Game 7 Celtics win undoubtedly will feature an unforgettable performance by Kevin Garnett . . . or Rajon Rondo . . . or Paul Pierce. Brandon Bass could even sneak in for some headlines. It could be Ray Allen too, but realistically, if it weren't for the playoffs, you have to wonder if Ray would even be suiting up.
The main concern is that with Avery Bradley on the shelf, the Celtics best starting lineup is out of commission (see basketball-reference.com table). Through May 20th, the Rondo-Bradley-Pierce-Bass-Garnett lineup is +62 plus-minus, equivalent to a +27 points per 48 minutes. If you replace Bradley with Allen, that line-up becomes losing with a -8 plus-minus, equivalent to an embarrassing -17 points per 48 minutes. That starting line-up without Bradley was in fact -7 in Game 6, a game that they lost 82-75.
Doc Rivers will need to produce minutes from his bench without risking the wilting of the starters a.k.a. Game 7 in the 2010 Finals AND compensate for the absence of Bradley. They were without Bradley in Game 5 and it was no biggie as the Celtics romped in the 2nd half to win going away 101-85. In that win, the C's didn't need much bench support as they rode the unheralded Bass to victory with solid performances also by Rondo, Garnett and Pierce.
That may be the script for tonight's game as well.However, they do need 25 good minutes from their bench and they need to handle the 4-guard line-up that Philly employs as their second rotation and as their closing rotation. The Celtics also dearly need offense and really can't sustain their 28.9% shooting from the 3-point line, especially when they are averaging 16 attempts a game.
With that said, I ask why not E'Twaun Moore? In April, Doc said E'Twaun was going to play in the playoffs and "help us in a game". That was before Bradley went under the knife yesterday to repair his shoulder.
I'm lusting for Moore's offensive game, but realize that his defense is what is probably keeping him on the bench. But if the Celtics want some scoring off the bench and someone that has a decent chance of matching up well with Louis Williams or Jrue Holiday, then you have to give Moore a shot in these playoffs.
To see what the Celtics may have in the Moore, you have to go back to E'twaun's best game with the Celtics. It was January 26th against the Magic. The Celtics were down by 18 with 2 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter (see popcornmachine.net gameflow), E'twaun was inserted into the game for Bradley and proceeded to score 13 points staying on the floor for the entire 4th quarter. Both Rondo and Allen were out for the game creating the opportunity for "Smooge" to be the game MVP in the Celtics 91-83 dramatic comeback victory. Moore went 4 for 4 from the 3-point line in the ORL game and has a decent 36.2% average on the season, for an effective field goal percentage of 54%. The Celtics need that on the floor.
Playing at the PG/SG positions, Moore has played 10% of the available minutes this year for a total of 284 minutes. Only 8 of those minutes has been with Rondo on the floor. . . Moore hasn't played much with Pierce and Ray Allen on the floor either. And sure he's a rookie who hasn't earned his stripes, but he was competing with Bradley only back in January for a spot in the rotation before Bradley broke-out and became a bonafide starter.
So here's a plea to Doc. Since the Celtics need to have another guard on the floor to match up with the 76ers small line-up of Holiday, Willliams and G/Fs Turner and Iguodala. So why not give Moore some run off the bench. Pietrus isn't getting it done and Pavlovic isn't quick enough.
Here's another perspective - give Rondo a running mate to replace the ones he seems to be losing routinely. Gone is Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox and now Avery Bradley - all were great running buddies for Rajon . . . Rondo must think he's jinxed . . . reason #37 for playing "Smooge" - give Rondo a lift!
Before he was drafted last summer, Moore was discounted as a tweener at 6'4" - being too small for SG and not a good enough distributor to be a PG. But maybe he can play a little bit like another Chicago-bred 6'4" SG in Dwane Wade. Moore can jump and has the same no-step vertical reach (10' 11.5") as fellow rookies Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard who are both 6''7" SGs. Reason #45 to play Moore (I lost count).
In closing, here's a little taste of the inside-outside game that Moore has - see Moore on 3-point catch and shoot at 2:00 in the video, followed by a floater in the lane.
What do you say Doc?