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CelticsBlog roundtable: with Marcus Smart out and Kristaps Porzingis in, how will the Celtics be different?

Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics Photo by Nick Grace/Getty Images

Jack Simone: Bigger lineups. As oversimplified as that may be, the Celtics will have a lot more opportunities to play big next year, which is what helped them reach the 2022 NBA Finals. There are obviously defensive concerns, but a big reason Boston was able to trade away their All-Defensive guard is because they still have one on the roster - Derrick White. Add in Kristaps Porzingis’ shot-blocking and ability to dominate drop coverage, and the defense should be just fine (especially if Robert Williams is healthy all year). Meanwhile, the offense should be even better. The Celtics will have an automatic zone-beater with Porzingis in the post, as well as another option to go to when their halfcourt offense stalls. Different, yes, but not necessarily in a bad way.

Benjamin Torbert: It goes hand in hand with the size answer, but stylistically the bigger lineups will impact how they win on defense. For years, the Celtics have been at their best when they have smothered teams on the perimeter with switchable athleticism, length, and speed. Their personnel moves have likely sacrificed their ceiling in terms of blowing up offensive sets with perimeter ball pressure. Conversely, their ceiling in terms of rim protection and interior defense should be raised with the capability to play double-big lineups the vast majority of the time. Their defensive schemes will look a lot different, but hopefully the high-level results will remain.

Ben Dupont: You all nailed it. Being able to play big was supposed to be Boston’s identity, and Williams being injured derailed that last season. With any luck, at least two of our big men will be healthy at any given point. What I really love about Porzingis in green, though, is end-of-shot clock performance. The Celtics struggled at times to get good looks in those situations last season. Being able to dish to an abnormally large person as the clock goes down is a solid play-finishing strategy. And Porzingis can score quickly from almost anywhere on the court. Give it to him in the paint or 27 feet out, and he will provide a good chance of scoring.

Sam LaFrance: Well, they’re going to have less guys with green hair, that’s for sure. Hopefully they’re a better team down the stretch of close games too. Smart was one of my personal favorite Celtics ever (I’m 24 give me a break) and it’s tough to see him go. I also don’t think he was a problem but I do feel like the addition of Porzingis could really help iron out some late-game kinks for the Cs. A few weeks back, Charles Barkley went on The Bill Simmons Podcast and discussed his interest in playing for the Clyde Drexler-led Portland Trail Blazers back in the day. He detailed a meeting he’d had with their front office (holy tampering), explaining that he felt his low post presence would help the Blazers in late-game situations when they couldn’t just run opposing teams off of the floor. Does Porzingis have the same sort of Potential in Boston? I hope so, but it does feel like Tatum already had that potential but they haven’t used him in that fashion.

Mike Dynon: The shooting should be much better. Porzingis has career shooting percentages of FG .453, 3PT .359 and FT .827. Smart’s numbers are .386/.323./.777. Specifically versus the Miami Heat and their problematic zone defense, having a 7-foot-3 shooter to attack the middle should be much more productive than having Marcus on the wing being enticed to shoot the open three. On defense, the Celtics may miss Smart’s perimeter pressure, but that can be offset by KP’s rim protection (1.8 blocks per game for his career).With all this said, it’s not easy to replace a fan favorite; Porzingis needs to produce as expected in order to get the fans on his side. Also, the Jays must step up their leadership to replace Smart’s voice in the locker room and on the court. This is their team now, and it’s time for them to embrace that status.

Daniel Poarch: I continue to wonder what the playmaking will look like for this roster with Marcus Smart out of the picture. Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon will keep the ball moving, but neither is the kind of initiator that Smart was, which is going to put even more responsibility on Jayson Tatum as the tip of the spear. That could certainly turn out to be a very good thing – putting the ball in the hands of your best player more frequently tends to be – but it will certainly be very different. I would just like to see how it all looks when the players hit the court.

Bobby Manning: Al Horford might begin the year on the bench, Robert Williams will assume more offensive responsibility playing in the middle of the floor, as will Jayson Tatum as a ball-handler. Kristaps Porzingis will create out of the trailing spot far more than Horford did in his position last year and the team will probably play deeper into its bench during the regular season. Jaylen Brown and Derrick White’s roles should remain relatively similar, while Payton Pritchard should return to the fold as a bench scorer.

Trevor Hass: I think the Celtics will control the glass much better than they have in recent years. Kristaps Porzingis will gobble up boards and make life easier for everyone around him. He and Derrick White, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum will get comfortable working in tandem in transition. The Celtics will run more, get their playmakers the ball in space and look for Porzingis as the trailer. It’s a difficult formula for opponents to stop. This team will certainly miss Marcus Smart’s intangibles, but Porzingis has a unique skill set that few others in the league do. Even when he’s not the focal point of the offense, he commands plenty of attention.

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