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Daniel Theis returns to Boston in big win over 76ers

To start his second stint with the Celtics, the big man played a vital role in the Philadelphia blowout.

Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Right before the trade deadline or at the start of the offseason, we can collectively get hung up on the salary cap and the luxury tax. The business side of basketball can be just as much of an intriguing game. But in February, March, and April, what’s most important is the play on the floor and not behind closed doors.

A week ago, President of Basketball Operations Brad Brad Stevens had the opportunity to trade Dennis Schroder and get future assets. Instead, he traded for Daniel Theis, a move that the former Celtic welcomed after unceremoniously being dealt at the last deadline to avoid the luxury tax.

“It was definitely a hard experience. At that point, I wasn’t expecting it. Nobody kinda was,” Theis said of the trade that sent him and Javonte Green to Chicago last winter. “But after a while I learned that it’s just the business side with money and the luxury tax, cap space. It’s all business. Most likely, it’s not personal against you, so that’s why I hold no grudge...I’m happy to be back.”

In his first game back in his second stint in Boston Daniel Theis proved just how much of a luxury it is to have him as a backup big off the bench. Against the Sixers on Tuesday night, Theis had five points and nine rebounds in just under twenty minutes, and while those counting stats may not jump off the page, it was obvious that he didn’t skip a beat with the team that plucked him out of the German League back in 2017.

After being the starting center for an Eastern Conference finalist less than two years ago, Theis is now a perfect fit for the needs of this team. In addition to his outside shooting and positional ground game in the restricted area, Theis is a switchable defender like Robert Williams, Al Horford, and Grant Williams. He led the team with four blocks against Philadelphia.

“Rob (Williams) and Al (Horford) are our guys and they’re playing great, but if you miss any time with those two guys, you can plug Theis in and it’ll be a seamless transition,” Stevens said. “Theis knows how to make our best players better. That’s the best thing he does — he has a great feel for making others around him better. He’s got a savvy for the game.”

“I came in with Theis. I played three and a half years with him. So did JB and Rob and Smart, so it’s not like having somebody new,” Jayson Tatum said of his former and now current teammate. “He’s happy he’s back. We’re happy he’s back. Theis just fits right in with what we’re doing.”

What they’re doing is fielding the best defense in the Eastern Conference. In effect, Theis replaces another two-time Celtic in Enes Freedom and while he may not be as rugged a rebounder as Freedom, Theis is just another above average defender that head coach Ime Udoka can use.

“Just like old times,” Jaylen Brown said. “We’ve got a lot of familiarity with Theis already, so him being here is great. He fits right in with our unit.”