And we are back with another edition of How ‘Bout Them Celtics, after a vacation-driven hiatus.
The Boston Celtics will look to find a way into the quarterfinals of the In-Season Tournament on Tuesday night. Could Sam Hauser’s emergence as an elite role player get them there?
Sam’s Pick: They just never make it easy, do they?
Tuesday’s In-Season Tournament finale against the Chicago Bulls will see the Celtics battle to stay alive in the competition. After dropping Friday’s matchup against the Orlando Magic, Boston doesn’t exactly have the easiest path to the next stage of the tournament.
It’s not exactly “Avengers defeating Thanos” levels of unlikely, but it’s not going to be easy either.
Boston can advance to the quarterfinals by either winning Group C or earning the Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
Both of which can still be accomplished.
In order for the Cs to come out on top of Group C, they’re going to need to beat the Bulls... by A LOT. This is because point differential is a key measuring point for tiebreakers in the tournament. As of now, Boston’s is at a zero — 22 points worse than the Magic, who padded their differential against the Cs last week. Even if the Celtics eclipse Orlando that won’t be enough on its own because they lost the head-to-head matchup.
They’ll need the Brooklyn Nets to win against the Toronto Raptors to create a three-way tie for the top spot. However, Brooklyn’s point differential is currently +8, so the Cs will have to not only beat the Bulls by 23 points but also win by at least eight more than the Nets do.
The avenues for the Celtics to advance via the wild card are a bit less rigid.
First and foremost, they have to beat the Bulls, preferably by a lot.
In the case that any of those teams win, the Celtics would have needed to erase the gap in point differential between themselves and whoever they wind up tied with. That gap could range anywhere from six (Cleveland) to 18 (New York).
Jack’s Pick: Sam Hauser is for real
When the Celtics added Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday this summer, they sacrificed depth. In turn, questions swirled regarding whether or not their bench unit would hold up. But Sam Hauser didn’t hear no bell.
Fresh off a semi-breakout season, Hauser has gone nuclear this season, impacting the game on both sides of the ball. He’s improved mightily on the defensive end, and even his three-point shot has seen some advancements.
In the Celtics’ recent win over the Atlanta Hawks, two of Hauser’s three-point makes exemplified this improvement.
The first of which defied Hauser’s expected shot profile. After missing a three, Hauser got the ball back in the corner. He shot-faked, got Bogdan Bogdanovic jumping, dribbled in, stepped back, and drilled a three.
Up to this point in his career, Hauser has almost solely taken stand-still threes. If he can start shooting more off the dribble, it opens up so many new possibilities within the Celtics’ offense.
The second shot was a bit less obvious. In the middle of the fourth quarter, Jaylen Brown drove to the hoop and kicked it to Hauser in the corner. Hauser caught it at head level, but instead of dipping down into his shooting motion, he put the shot up from where he caught it.
Few shooters in the league can just shoot the ball from the level at which they catch it. Pat Connaughton has been able to perfect the craft, but the most notable example is Klay Thompson. Hauser’s ability to shoot it from where he catches it makes it close to impossible for defenders to get a hand up in time.
Hauser’s raw shooting stats (44.8% on 6.2 3PA per game) are impressive enough, but the new ways he’s getting shots up are emblematic of his emergence as one of the better bench players in the NBA.
Those were just a few of the main talking points from Tuesday’s podcast. Also featured was the latest on Kristaps Porzingis’ calf injury, how terrible of a situation the Chicago Bulls are in, and the famous “Rat List.”