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Deep summer Mailbag answers - Part 2

Lots of questions about Tatum and Brown and how the Celtics can maximize them both.

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Seven Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Jumping in to Part 2 of the questions:


When do you think (well deserved) good will toward Jays dries up and it all becomes chip or bust?

Or does the adding new coach last year and Porzingis this year reset that clock?

All great players went through that extremely stressful period of enormous doubt by media, fans, etc. Then they either prevail or not. When does this type of pressure increases for Tatum and Brown?

This is an interesting and complex discussion that I’m not sure I’ll be able to do justice to, but I’ll try to cover it in brief. I think what you are referring to is society’s tendency to build people up to a point and then tear them back down again. We’ve seen Tatum and Brown grow up together with great promise and have really remarkable early career success. That has raised expectations for them to the point where anything less than a championship is considered failure.

I don’t think changing coaches or adding Porzingis changes that pressure or does anything to reset the clock of expectations. Fair or not, we’ve seen this duo together for several seasons in various combinations of supporting casts. Nobody is going to allow them any additional excuses.

The bottom line is that there’s a ton of pressure on this team to win a title this season. Specifically that pressure is on Tatum and Brown. If it doesn’t end in a banner, questions will be raised about the cost of this team going forward under the new CBA. The vultures will start circling and tough long term questions will need to be seriously considered.

Personally, I’d love to see them both play long careers in Boston and retire wearing green. But that doesn’t work out for very many players in the NBA. On the other hand, if they win it all, you can bet that management will figure out a way to make it work. So let’s just win the whole thing. Seems like the best plan.


Pick a player outside the teams top seven who you think will surprise the most. Doesn’t need to be the choice for eighth best, but the one who will surprise.

Well let’s see. My top 7 would be Tatum, Brown, Porzingis, White, Horford, Brogdon, and Williams. (It is still weird for me that I don’t have to clarify which Williams I’m talking about anymore)

So your top candidates are Pritchard and Hauser and I’d give Hauser the early edge just because we need more wing shooting. He’s passable on defense and has shown little glimpses of attacking closeouts as well.

For a deeper cut, I am trying hard to keep expectations tempered with Jordan Walsh. I really don’t see a path towards early season playing time and if the team is targeting wings with their last few roster spots, that could squeeze him further. With all that said, I love the way he plays. Maybe he’ll get some burn by the end of the year and give the fans what they want to see.

Frank Malzone

Will the BradJoe vision for a new Celtics offense and new Celtics defense turn out to be brilliant in the regular season?

In the playoffs?

That’s the many millions dollar question, isn’t it? I think for the regular season they are going to score a whole lot of points and be one of the top offenses in the league. The math really does work in your favor in the aggregate. There will be some games when the shots just aren’t falling, but more often than not the offense is going to click.

I’m very interested to see how their fundamental defensive schemes change. Don’t forget that they brought in Charles Lee from the Bucks. His teams have been pretty steadily elite on defense while changing their playing style over time.

That will be key for the playoffs because you aren’t dealing with aggregate numbers anymore. A shooting slump that lasts for more than a game could end your season quick (see the Heat series). They have to look for additional ways to score and creative ways to lock down opponents when they need to.

The potential is there. The Celtics gave Mazzulla some great assistants (including Sam Cassell) that will help him develop and implement the plans that he didn’t have time to fully flesh out last year. I’m optimistic (but then again, I always tend to be this time of year).

New Orleans Pelicans (114) Vs. Boston Celtics (125) At TD Garden Photo by Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images


Let’s assume the worst and we find Brogdon and Porzingis still needing recovery time to open the season. Who gets more playing time from the end of the bench: Kornet, Walsh, Banton, or Brissett?

I think Kornet is going to get time regardless. All our bigs are going to need time off for one reason or another and Kornet is a great “innings eater” for the regular season. He’s not a star by any means, but he knows his role, he’s tall, and he keeps defenses honest by being a stretch threat of his own.

If Brogdon needs to miss more time, then obviously Pritchard will get more run. Positionally if you are picking from the list of guys you mentioned I guess you’d have to say Banton (if he makes the team) could get minutes behind Payton.


Assuming Grande takes over for Mike Gorman on TV, who becomes the new voice on Celtics radio? Will they get some audition time this year?

It was interesting listening to Grande on a podcast earlier this month. He hinted at the fact that he would miss being on some of the biggest games of the year (because they are covered by the National telecasts). Not saying that he would turn down the TV gig. But I could see a world where he still manages to split his time and covers the National TV games by going back to the radio booth.

I think I heard it said that Max would be back as the color commentator so you need a play-by-play guy that works well with him. I don’t see any of the current TV personalities going that route unless Chris Forsberg wants to try his hand at it. Note that guys like Eddie House or even Perk would be fun for the color analyst job, but not really the play-by-play job. Chances are the Celtics will bring in someone from outside like they originally did with Grande (who started in Minnesota). Hey, maybe they can grab Kevin Brown from the Orioles!


Will the Celtics do more to get the J’s the ball on the move rather than standing at the top of the key against a set defense, especially in the playoffs? Will Porzingis’s presence help with that? Will the absence of Smart help with that?

Without Smart, we may see Tatum initiating the offense more (like they did in the playoffs). Essentially he gets the ball and dares the defense to send a double team. When they do, he moves the ball quickly to the open man, bends the defense, and (in theory) the ball finds an open or cutting man for an easy look at the basket.

I’d like to see them run some more offense out of the mid-post. Both Tatum and Porzingis can be a triple threat from that spot. I’m skeptical that is what the coaching staff will lean into though because it might mean more mid-range 2’s than what they are preaching. But if you have guys (including Brown) that can hit those shots at a high level, why take that option off the board?

Atlanta Hawks (119) Vs. Boston Celtics (117) At TD Garden Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images


As the “official” Day 1 starting point guard, how will the Celtics employ Derrick White on offense? Will they empower him to be the traditional on-ball facilitator, letting him dictate the offense? Will they continue to run the offense through multiple players, spreading the playmaking responsibility? Or will he be point guard in name only, running with the starters but functioning primarily off-ball, so they can leverage his shooting?

I don’t think White is going to ever be a “traditional” point guard in the mold of Chris Paul or Rajon Rondo because he’s not going to pound the ball while a play develops. He’s more of a connector point guard that keeps the ball moving and making the right next pass. The Celtics are at their best when no one person is holding the ball too long (that includes Tatum and Brown). Defenses are just too adept at sniffing out the plays. You have to be adaptable and free flowing with several options out of base sets.

So from that perspective, I think White is a perfect fit for the offense, especially if he keeps hitting outside shots at or near the rate that he did last year.


How can we (realistically) expect the dynamic between Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to evolve this season? It still feels like they have another step take connecting with each other on offense.

It is interesting that they don’t play off of each other more. Some of that is matchups, because if Brown sets a pick for Tatum, the other team can switch and still have a wing defender on Tatum (and vice versa). So there’s no strategic reason to run them in pick and roll together.

So it does seem like they “take turns” in the offense. If one is cooking, the other lets him cook for a while. Then the pendulum swings and it goes to the other. It would be nice to see them clicking at the same time and generating looks for each other more.

With that said, as I mentioned above, the whole team really needs to focus on ball movement and moving without the ball. Ideally they would function similar to the Warriors, where everyone is moving and flowing together (not just Tatum and Brown).


Is Jaylen Brown a guard? It seems like he is always discussed as a wing, but the “glut” at guard, seems to me, to be that we only have 48 minutes of guard to hand out, regardless of what we call JB and his bench time as minutes for someone else.

When I think of positions, it seems to only matter when you are talking about defense. On offense he’s just going to do his thing, regardless of who’s in front of him. But on the other side of the ball, you have to match him up with guys that he has a better chance to succeed at. I think when he’s locked in, Brown is very good a locking up players on the ball. Where he really struggles is in off-ball defense. From that perspective, I think I prefer him defending wings who are typically more one dimensional than quick and shifty guards. Of course the league isn’t that black-and-white, so it is nice that Brown is positionally flexible enough to do both.

Once again, these were great questions and I appreciate the thought that went into them. Thanks again!

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