The Boston Celtics came into Sunday with the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference already locked in. The starters were going to be allowed to rest, and the bench unit would get to get a major increase in minutes. Even as this game may be an afterthought come today’s play-in game, it still sets the stage for some fringe players to try and breakthrough.
With this opportunity, Jabari Parker stepped up for the Celtics Sunday. In his 26 minutes on the court, he scored 18 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. He shot 6 of 10 which was one of the more promising things coming from this stat line. Parker played like the leader on the floor at times being aggressive and taking over the offense. This was a nice thing to see as the late season addition has been still trying to find his place in the rotation. He could see some important minutes coming soon, so this offensive output could be a positive indicator.
There have been some flashes from Jabari Parker in a Celtics jersey this season before. He has a great offensive spurt, but then has his issues on the defensive end that has plagued him his whole career. The expectations may not have been super high, but there is a thought that Parker could bring the Celtics a little spark off the bench.
In this first clip, Parker shows off that aggressiveness to attack the paint for a tough layup. He takes it and without hesitation drives down against the front runner for Most Improved Player in Julius Randle. He looks to finish with relative ease after finding that small angle. Also, he is able to finish around Nerlens Noel who has become a great shot blocker this season.
What Parker brings to this team is some depth of size and scoring ability. He is not going to change the team dynamic or be anything to bank on, but it will be important in those closing minutes of the quarter where he could see minutes. These could be crucial in the do-or-die games the Celtics are about to head into.
The weakness everyone knows about to this point is Parker’s defense. The lateral quickness is just not always there for him. On Sunday, he had a few defensive stands that could be watched back in the film room and used moving forward.
Both of these clips show Parker defend Julius Randle very well. He stood up his ground and did not let Randle get down into the paint. As soon as Randle got the ball, Parker got close up on Randle and did not let him through. This is what he will have to focus on because he does not have that quickness of the past. He needs to beat the offensive player to their spot and not let them through. Randle is one of the top players in the league this year and only scored 20 points and not many of them were against Parker.
Once again, it should be said that this performance should still come with a good amount of context with the rosters out there. However, it still sets up good confidence going into a play-in game where Parker will have to show up with the limited minutes he may receive. Washington scores a ton of points and does not really play defense, so Parker may matchup well against them. At this point in this season, the Celtics are trying to find anything that can work, and it may very well be Jabari Parker who is a beneficiary of this.