We’ve got plenty of articles covering the upcoming series with the Toronto Raptors and plenty of articles wrapping up the first round with the Sixers. So much so that sometimes, I feel like all I have to do is keep the lights on and let the blog run along. On the other hand, I don’t want to be left out! Yup, I’m FOMO writing on my own blog.
These aren’t full enough takes for full articles, just donut hole, bite-sized nuggets that interest me.
Last thoughts on the Sixers
It isn’t my style to tap dance on the grave of defeated foes, so there’s no gloating here, no hot takes on the death of The Process (again) or helpful unsolicited advice on how to solve their problems. I’m just going to say that sometimes you appreciate what you have (from ownership to the front office to the coaching to the players) even more when you see a franchise struggling with any and all of those things.
On to Round 2
The focus now shifts to the Raptors, who by contrast are a very well run franchise. I mean, what kind of championship team could lose their best player and be right back in the thick of things as contenders the next year? That’s just rare and impressive. It starts from the top with a top notch GM and one of the best coaches in the league.
The Celtics have the best player in the series in Jayson Tatum and you could fill some podcast airtime debating how many Celtics would be in the top-5 if you listed them out in order. But the Raptors are oceanic trench level deep and the Celtics are... not. The Gordon Hayward injury didn’t hold the team back much in Round 1. It could be huge in Round 2.
The severity of Kyle Lowry’s ankle injury is obviously another piece of the puzzle to keep an eye on.
Three Dimensional Chess
As much as we like to yell at the TV for the coach to put in our favorite player or call a timeout or change a scheme, there’s a whole lot that goes into each of those decisions that the average fan doesn’t consider. Don’t get me wrong, NBA coaches are paid handsomely to make those hard decisions. I guess this is all just a long winded lead-in to point out that we’ve got two elite coaches going head-to-head in this series.
Sometimes you can see clear storylines and themes play out over a 7-game series. This is going to be an exaggerated version of that. I get the feeling that Stevens is going to try something, Nick Nurse will see him trying it, throw out a counter, and Brad will have to re-counter that move. And that will be in the first 5 minutes of the first game.
Matchups Aren’t Static
I get the urge to focus on matchups. Who’s going to guard who? Who wins each matchup? Tally them up and you get a formula for predicting the series. Except it doesn’t work out like that. Every matchup is just a pick-and-roll away from breaking down. Help defense, rotations, flash-and-recover tactics, and basically every modern defensive technique relies more on flexibility and team-wide commitment than it does on any specific matchup.
The thing is that both teams excel at flexibility with guys that guard 3, 4, or 5 positions (hi. Marcus). Both teams communicate and flex between different defensive looks.
My hope is that the Celtics simply have more playmakers who can get enough quality looks against tough defenses. No disrespect to Siakam, Lowry, and VanVleet, but I trust Tatum, Brown, and Walker to go out and get buckets when they really need them.
For that reason, I’m picking the Celtics in a very close 6 games.