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It’s Clear Now

By Kevin McCaskill Jr.

It’s clear why the Boston Celtics aren’t achieving to their full potential: Celtics HC Brad Stevens and GM Danny Ainge.

Stevens is attempting to use the personnel strategy he was forced to use at Butler in the NBA.

At Butler, a “mid-major”, Stevens got the players he could get. No McDonald's All-Americans; no Top 50 recruits. He got players who would buy into his team system, where he puts under-skilled [relative to Division 1 competition level] and under-sized players into his offensive scheme.

On Sunday afternoon, the Celtics had a 24-point lead in the 3rd quarter at the 6:39 mark, in New Orleans.

The game was tied at 98 after a Brandon Ingram 3 in the 4th quarter, with 4:30 left. The Celtics had given up their lead.

The lineup on the floor when Ingram hit the 3: Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Semi Ojeleye, Aaron Nesmith and Daniel Theis.

I know Tatum has mentioned his endurance has been comprised due to "COVID-19" but he should have been in the game. Who makes decisions on substitutions? The HC.

The lineup on the floor in crunch-time, as the Celtics blow the lead, is indicative of my point: Stevens believes he can put any players on the floor and they will have success because of his "Butler scheme".

This is the NBA. The 5 best players need to be on the floor in crunch-time.

At the 5:51 mark in the 4th, Stevens sends Ojeleye in for Tatum. Ojeleye isn’t an offense threat at all. He is a good defender but people can get by him.

Aaron Nesmith hasn’t done much yet to this point. He is averaging 4 points/gm and 2 rebs/gm. His career-high so far is 11 points. This month he has averaged 19 min/gm.

Daniel Theis is a good Center but he also has limitations. He has been encouraged to shoot more from the perimeter. He is shooting 39% from 3FG this season. Coming in to this game, he hadn’t made a 3 in 4 games in 10 attempts. Also, having Theis on the perimeter with that lineup means you aren’t going after any offensive rebounds that are close to the basket.

Why were this three players in the game? Stevens “Butler” personnel strategy.

After the Ingram 3, Stevens called a timeout and inserted Tatum and the “Time Lord” Robert Williams.

After that timeout each team scored 10 points to tie the game at 108, which led to overtime.

The Pelicans gained control early in the overtime. A foul by Brandon Ingram on a Jaylen Brown 3-pt attempt when the Pelicans were up 117-112 almost cost them the game.

The Pelicans were able to hold on and beat the middling Celtics 120-115.

The Celtics are currently 15-15 and in 5th place in the Eastern Conference. They are only 3.5 games from being in 13th place.

The Celtics are 5-7 this month, with these losses:

@ Washington Valentines Day ❤️ (only scored 91 points 😳)

Vs. Pistons

Vs. Hawks

Outside of Tatum and Brown, no one else can consistently create their own shot. Walker can create his own shot but not consistently. Walker has also missed several games due to injury.

If Stevens is the coach the Sports Media made hime out to be, he should get through this slump. It will only come though if led by Tatum. Giving significant minutes to Ojeleye, Nesmith, Grant Williams and Carsen Edwards will not garner success for the Celtics. Danny Ainge had a hand in drafting all these players which seems to be Ainge capitulating to the Stevens Butler personnel strategy.

And, Stevens should play Tacko Fall more.

The next game for the Celtics is Tuesday in Dallas. The State of Texas has been experiencing calamities caused by winter storms. I don’t know if that game will be played.


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