The Playoffs are upon us. On Sunday, April 18, the "next season" starts for the Celtic Nation. The question is, which Celtics team will we see tip off against the #1 seed Indiana Pacers?
Earlier in the season, we heard these now imfamous words: "It would probably be in the teams best long-term interests to be in the lottery." Plan 1 shot down. Time to go to plan 2: Facing the reality that we are a playoff team and planning accordingly to try to win.
As of late, we've seen alot of John Carroll's "Let's try to stretch the defense" team. For those not familiar with that, in short, it means we've seen superfluous amounts of Walter McCarty. My proof reader asked me if I meant to use "liberal" rather than superfluous in relation to my comment and I have to say, that I stand correct. Superflous- as in TOO MUCH, more than needed or necessary, and for most fans, more than makes practical sense. The tenet behind the return of 30+ min Waltah has been, at least according to John Carroll, because he "stretches the opposing defense out".
Does this make sense to anyone? It doesn't to me. Waltah is a nice player to have coming off the bench, but he's not a 30+ min starter. If you need a short defensive stop gap, get in foul trouble, or just need a spark off the bench, SEND IN WALTAH. Other than that, I don't want to see him on the floor. Don't get me wrong, he's a great blue-collar guy, who can help in certain situations. However, starting him and playing him big minutes makes no sense.
Waltah doesn't rebound. In fact, getting Waltah into the paint area most trips down the floor is about as practical as trying to get Antoine Walker to play a traditional PF role. He's not a slash and score player and has perhaps the worst looking and least effective pull up jumper on the team. He's a 3 point, spot up shooter, who mostly has to rely on camping out on the weak side and hoping for a drive and kick out to him to get off a clean shot that has any hope of going in.
Is this the best that this team has to offer?
It's clearly not and sadly, Waltah's resurgence in playing time has coincided with a seeming shift in the offensive game plan towards playing what is commonly refered to among the Celtic Nation as "OB-3 Ball". In other words, the 3 pointer is once again, THE offense, rather than merely(and more appropriately) a facet of an offense as a whole.
It's time to stop this non-sense. We've made the playoffs. Even if Dannyboy's not happy about that, he now has to face the reality that it serves no-ones best interest for us to take an embarrasing first round exit, by continuing to play the style of ball we've been playing. I don't say this often, but if John Carroll's plan is to go into the playoffs with this offense, then we might as well not even show up. Save the franshise the embarrassment of getting blown out in 4 straight.
Can we beat the Pacers?
Well, I'm not running to my bookie to bet my house on it, but it's not out of the realm of possibility either. The Pacers suffer from the same youth issue as the Celtics. They are still prone to making inexperienced mistakes and that makes them vulnerable. The trick is to take advantage of it. Problem is, to do that we have to play smart, which I'm afraid to say hasn't been a trait we've displayed in at least a few weeks.
We need to play solid man to man defense. We need to rebound. We need to get out on the break and run it smartly. What do we need to do, in my opinion?
First, change the lineup:
Pg - Chucky, with Banks spelling him for 15+ a game.
Sg - Davis and Jiri, with the weight of minutes going to Davis, as Jiri can play mulitple positions.
Sf - Do you really need me to say it? Get Jiri and Waltah to fill in where necessary when he needs a rest.(and he does)
PF - Mihm, (yes, I said Mihm) with Hunter backing him up and *Waltah, when necessary.
C - Blount, With Perkins and Stewart. (Yes, I know putting Stewart in is a gamble, but let's face it, no one has scouted him and he did have at least one good year that justified his contract that we're now paying. Perkins, why not? Again, no one's scouted him)
Indy is likely going to beat us on the boards, even if we follow the "hagrid Plan". However, we could lessen the effect of that and likely hold thier scoring off of offensive rebounds to a minimum and being stronger on the boards can only help our transition game.
Second: Stay to Home on Defense.
We overpursue and stay on switches worse than any other team in the league. Stay to home boys. Guard your man and when he does gets by you, let people know and make it easier for help by forcing the play towards the middle. Common sense, right? Well, if you've watched Celtics games lately, it wouldn't seem so.
Come Sunday, It's time to stop screwing around. The lottery is a memory. Playoffs are the reality and we need to be prepared to bring our best. No more random experiments. Play the talent we have wisely. Play offense together, while pushing the ball up the court. Play man to man defense, don't front the post. In short, use your head and this team will play better than we expect it to.
Let's hope someone's listening.