Could a new starting center key a series win for Boston?

In Game 1 of the Raptors series, Robert Williams played the most minutes of any game. Then over Games 2 and 3, he played progressively fewer minutes in each. Finally, in Game 4, he only played around 15 minutes, three minutes less than he played in Game 1. 

Now you could argue that the reason he saw more minutes in the first game is because of the time he got at the end of the game during the blowout. However, my theory is that the more Williams plays, the better the Celtics are. He may just be the most important player on the C’s in this series. 

Brad Stevens ends up putting him in the game so early on that it begs the question, why doesn’t he just start? The obvious reason is because of the floor spacing, but Daniel Theis hasn’t even been shooting the ball that well lately. So if Theis isn’t bringing the three-point shooting as advertised, then what’s the point in starting him?

While I do still think Theis is better than Williams at this point in their careers, I also think that Williams proves to be a better matchup in this specific series. His athleticism gives him a serious advantage over both of Toronto’s centers. 

Marc Gasol, who has started thus far in the series, is old and not nearly athletic enough to keep up with Williams. If the Celtics exploit that, it gives their offense another option to run through – something they could have desperately used in game four. With Jaylen Brown and the rest of the team struggling to make shots, running pick n’ roll with Williams more could have opened up the offense a little bit.

I’m not even saying that he should be playing more minutes than Theis, but giving him 20+ could really wear down the Raptors’ big man rotation. His offensive rebounding is improving, his shot blocking is super effective, and, as I previously mentioned, his athleticism is off the charts. Williams’ mere presence on the floor could bring the energy and intensity Boston needs to get back in this series.

As for the rest of the rotation, it’s tough to pinpoint a specific area where Stevens is going wrong. Honestly, I don’t think he necessarily is doing anything wrong, it’s just a matter of the team playing better as a whole. Game four was a huge outlier, because the Celtics just couldn’t get anything to go down. Aside from that, the other three games have been solid.

The one thing I will say, oddly enough, is that I’d like to see more of Brad Wanamaker. I know the Celtics have some great guards in Brown, Kemba Walker, and Marcus Smart, but Wanamaker opens things up a little bit. He’s one of the most efficient players on the team, and although his decision making can be questionable at times, if he’s just a part of the play on offense, his shot-making could be crucial. 

In a situation like last night, I feel like Stevens should have just started throwing other guys in the game to see if anyone could get hot. Brown was clearly not making anything, so maybe putting in Wanamaker could have helped if he got hot.

Hell, maybe even playing Carsen Edwards a little would have done something. Anything would have been better than watching brick after brick from the starters. If Edwards pulled off something like he did in his days at Purdue, the C’s could have been in business.

Regardless, the real key to winning will be simply making shots and closing out on defense. The Raps cannot be getting so many open looks, even though they were missing those looks up until last night. A switch up in the rotation could have helped spark a comeback, but it’s no fix to how poorly they played as a whole.

There’s no excuse for the loss in game four. To be honest, the Celtics should have lost by way more than they did. Now, it’s all about bouncing back in game five. It’s time to bring the energy. Go C’s.

Categories: Analysis

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All the Small Things (The Blink-182 Celtics) - The Celtics Journal · September 9, 2020 at 9:02 am

[…] that fourth game, the C’s looked like a completely different basketball team from the one we’ve all grown to love all year. Aside from simply missing shots, which Jaylen […]

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