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Summer film school: Daniel Theis, rim protector

Heading into his second season, Daniel Theis has shown shot blocking abilities that will only strengthen the Celtics’ league-best defense.

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

As a staunch proponent of small ball, Brad Stevens utilized Daniel Theis pretty efficiently in his first season. With flexibility the name of the game in Boston these days, Theis allowed the team to stay small when defensive linchpin Al Horford was off the court. The big German won over many with his end to end rim play as a rookie and registered a team high 1.8 blocks per 36 minutes.

In today’s video breakdown, we review a defensive play from the January 11th victory in London over the Philadelphia 76ers, which provides some food for thought as we move into the summer.

Late in that game, Philly was looking to take advantage of the masked Celtics rookie paired up with Joel Embiid. The 76ers ran a low block clear out play for Joel Embiid as Philly stacked the right side with JJ Reddick running a decoy action behind the 3 point line.

Theis is centered and focused only on Embiid, who straightens to the basket for a one-on-one ISO play. The Philly big man rips the ball through to initiate a drive into the vacant key. He pushes onto his preferred right handed dribble, then slightly shoulders off Theis to create separation.

As bodies converge, Theis appears to hesitate fractionally, allowing Embiid space for an out stretched layup on the far side. Theis turns, zeroes in on Embiid and extends for a brilliant recovery jump to get the block.

Theis’ peripheral awareness saw him chase down numerous plays in 2017-18 and the hope is that Daniel Theis will continue this trajectory into next season. He lays it all out on the court with his play, and the combination of he, Al Horford and Aron Baynes looks to be the perfect defensive trio against the best in the East.

The re-signing of free agent Aron Baynes to the Celtics a month ago was heralded as a great move. It solidifies the Celtics frontcourt for 2 more seasons, providing matchup depth in the regular season and playoffs. Baynes’ heft, strength and burly frame was a key factor in the Celtics 4-1 series win over the Sixers and Joel Embiid.

Theis though, provides another option, a different look with his quickness and mobility to challenge shots around the rim. Theis can switch well and has the presence of mind to help on the weak side when opponents slip into the key.