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Mailbag answers and Celtics hot takes

How far can the Celtics go this year?

Boston Celtics v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

I sent out a Bat signal looking for your mailbag questions and hot takes and you didn’t disappoint. Below are my humble attempts to add my own responses. Hope you enjoy.

Mr.Technical

This Celtics team is better defensively than the 07-08 team.

Al Horford is going to play until he’s 40.

This is the beginning of a Kyle Lowry, Chauncey Billups-esque later career Renaissance for Marcus 1st Team All Defense Smart.

Tatum will enter the MVP conversation before the end of the season and will finish top 5 in voting.

You understood the assignment. I have nothing further to add.

netrics07

Let’s start with the basics. Can we win in the Finals THIS year? Pretty simple.

The cop-out answer is: “Sure, several teams CAN win it all this year and the Celtics are in the mix.”

My riding high on recency bias and Kool-Aid answer is: “Defense wins championships and the Celtics already have a playoff rotation set up. They also have an MVP candidate and a top 25ish 2nd star. Why CAN’T they win the title this year?”

My kaizen don’t-get-too-high-or low answer is: “We’re playing very well right now but it remains to be seen if this offense can hold up in a playoff series. Also, we’re very reliant on that top 8 rotation. We’ll see how things go but we might still be a year away from it all coming together.”

See, not as simple as you thought.

dirtfarmer dad

This is a finely balanced team. One injury could send them back to .500 land or worse.

Can you rank the top 7 players according to whom the team can least afford to lose?

(My crazy take is that the defense falls apart without Rob Williams.)

This question scares the shamrocks off me. I’m going to whistle past this graveyard and pretend it never happened.

TOFTT

Would General Manager (meritorious) Jeff Clark have traded Brown, Smart, and picks that became Grant Williams and Pritchard for Anthony Davis? I assume you would not make that trade regardless of decision, today?

GM Jeff would have done his due diligence and if it sounded like Anthony Davis was not excited about coming to Boston and signing an extension, I would have passed. If he was exited for the chance to be a Celtic for a long time, yeah, I might have pulled the trigger on that one.

Today? I’d be tempted if I could get a feel for his medical situation. He still has MVP level upside when he’s fully healthy. That said, I’m more tempted to see how this current group fares going forward.

Kubers

Looking ahead, does Brad and co make a play for Beal or LeVine this summer? Or do they keep the core intact add to it best as possible?

The answer is always “it depends on the price” right? I would imagine either of those guys or Dame Lillard would cost a lot of draft capital and a few of our favorite players on this team.

It also depends on just how special this team can be for the rest of this year and through the playoffs. We’ll know a lot more in June than we know now.

All that said, you always have to consider going after guys like that because talent still wins in this league. We’ve learned recently that fit, personality, and health all matter a great deal though.

ALittleBitOfSocialism

Al Horford is going to be a Celtic beyond his current contract. Maybe the Celtics can sign him to a team-friendly extension for a couple of extra seasons in exchange for guaranteeing next season’s salary.

Glad you brought this up. Al Horford is simultaneously essential to this team and an overpaid negative contract. A couple of months ago I assumed that dealing him this offseason was a foregone conclusion - even if it was to get off the contract (preferably without having to give up an asset to do so). Now, like you, I’m thinking of ways to keep him in Boston forever.

On one hand, I’d love to think that he would take some kind of discount to stay in Boston, where he obviously loves playing and seemed very relieved to return to. On the other hand, I learned my lesson (from Al Horford) never to assume that an athlete is going to leave money on the table. So I guess we’ll see.

Keith Smith covers this in detail here.

CelticFanOnly

Rob Williams or Marcus Smart for DPOY?

Why not both?

JHD89

The Celtics can beat any team in the league in a 7 game series.

I’m not saying they will. I’m saying they can.

Agreed, though there’s levels.

I would like the Celtics chances against the Raptors and Cavs.

I think the Celtics would be pretty evenly matched with the Heat or Bulls (assuming mostly good health for both sides).

The Bucks and 76ers would be the toughest challenges in my mind.

The Nets are just a complete wildcard that could either be knocked out in the play-in games or win the championship. Neither would surprise me much.

GraniteState_CsFan

Hi, Jeff! A few questions come to mind:

1.) Which potential first-round postseason matchups would you consider most and least favorable for the Celtics?

See above

2.) A lot of NBA analysts/bloggers and even the computer models seem to be jumping on the Celtics hype train. Does this concern you at all? Put another way, is there a reason to temper growing expectations that this team can make a deep playoff run? What further signs of progress would you hope to see from this team in the remaining weeks of the regular season that would make you feel even more confident about their postseason chances?

Consistency is key. I’d want to see this team consistently run their offense the way that they have been recently. Trusting each other, moving the ball, and generating open looks. As great as they’ve been, there’s still a comfort zone of isolation ball that creeps in occasionally. Sometimes that’s the right play when you have the right matchup, but sometimes it is just lazy. They also need to be quicker about reading what curveballs the opposing defenses are throwing at them so they can adjust in real time.

Also, I’d like to see Ime work in some strategic rest for some of the guys (like he did for Horford recently) which has a bonus effect of giving guys like Pritchard and Theis a few more reps.

3.) If you had to pick a player outside of the current nine-man rotation (JB, JT, MS, RW, AH, GW, PP, DW, DT) who could become a meaningful contributor for the Celtics in the playoffs, even if just for a game, who would you choose? What kind of impact could you see that player making?

It would have to be either Sam Hauser or Nik Stauskas and it would 100% be one of those situations where they are brought in for some shooting (or as an injury replacement). If they got hot, they could easily swing a game in the playoffs. With that said, if we are counting on anything from those guys, then something has gone wrong.

Thanks again for the questions and hot takes everyone!