Welcome back to another session of Celtics Summer Film School. Last time, Daniel Poarch took a look at one of the more comedic stretches of the season. Now we’re back to the Philadelphia 76ers as we take a look at the difference that one tiny dribble move can make on a possession.
Marcus Smart rips the rebound after a strong defensive stretch, pushing it to Jayson Tatum on the wing who executes a tight in-and-out dribble to fake out two Philly defenders to get into the powerful two-hand dunk. Aron Baynes helps out immensely by sealing out Amir Johnson once Tatum’s dribble tricked him into getting completely behind Baynes.
This is where I think lineups that include both Marcus Smart and Kyrie Irving will thrive. Irving doesn’t even touch the ball on this possession, and he contributes in a major way with his gravity. I know “gravity” is a term that’s pretty polarizing in NBA circles, but if that were Abdel Nader in the corner next to Tatum instead of essentially out of the play on the right corner, there’s no way that dribble is as effective.
In lineups with Smart and Irving, the Celtics will be able to get the offense up and running quicker in transition without having to look for him immediately off of the rebound. It also helps that almost a majority of the roster can handle the ball in transition, but in particular, Smart is one of the team’s best passers. His being able to discover weaknesses in transition defense with Kyrie Irving’s excellent off-ball movement will be huge.
On Tatum’s part, for a preseason game, he clearly showed flashes of being able to read defenses. The smooth in-and-out was flawless, and he was able to trick more than just Nik Stauskas and Amir Johnson. Even TJ McConnell shifted a bit, though you could attribute that to just sagging off of Smart. Tatum’s quick shift forced the defense to collapse. Even if Johnson were able to fight over Aron Baynes’ seal-out, there’s no indication he would have made it in time. If he did make it in time, Baynes would have been there for the easy drop off pass.
The best part about this play is Tatum’s willingness to drive to the basket, even though this was his second professional game. In the 2016-17 season, players not named Isaiah Thomas really weren’t in love with driving to the hoop, and that really hurt the offense. With more players like Tatum who are willing to attack at will, the offense isn’t as stagnant most of the time (even though it happened at the worst time in Game 7 against Cleveland). With Gordon Hayward returning to the team this season, that adds another ball handler who’s not afraid of the basket.
For now, though, just keep watching Tatum break down Philly on loop. It’s fun.
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