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Celtics Breakup Party, Part 2

Picking up right where we left off…just remember, DEMETRIUS JACKSON.  Ok, I will stop yelling now that I have your attention.  On to the rest of the roster, still in alphabetical order…

*Jonas Jerebko/Amir Johnson.  I’m going to lump these two together.  Because I can.  And they are next to each other on the roster.  More importantly, it’s because I thought neither one of their options should have been picked up before the season.  To me, it was a colossal waste of 17 million for a combined 36 minutes a game for these stiffs.  They couldn’t have paid one player the whole 17 mil and received a better return?

Harsh assessment?  Most assuredly.  But it is what it is.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again:  I have no idea what Johnson brings to the table.  None.  Doesn’t rebound.  Doesn’t block shots.  Doesn’t score.  Defense?  Perhaps.  But when I watched him, he didn’t make much of a difference.  Never comes up with a “50/50 ball”.  Etc.  Yet he started almost every game this year.  Oh, if you take away Jackson’s 1 for 1 on threes, then Amir led the team in three-point percentage.  Yup.  27 for 66, for 41%.  And yes, I just looked it up.  Actually, I was looking for something (anything?!) Johnson contributed and stumbled upon that nugget.  I know, only 66 threes attempted, so big deal.  But if you asked anyone if they thought Amir shot that many threes this season, they wouldn’t believe it either (10 for 43 for 23% last year, by the way…found that interesting as well).  So I guess I discovered something he did add to the mix.

You know what else I realized about Johnson?  That he was the second highest paid Celtic this year.  A distant second to Al Horford, but second highest nonetheless.  Yikes!!

I know, Johnny Kid…you will disagree with the above analysis.  But that’s how I saw it…

As for Jerebko, well, I didn’t have much love for him either.  He sure as hell hustles his arse off and can hit the occasional three himself.  But…seemingly takes up space for the most part.

I can’t even talk about these guys anymore.  I hope neither of them are back.  Although if Brad Stevens uses Jonas going forward like he did at the end of the playoffs, which is…barely…then if he wants to come back for a veteran minimum salary and there were open roster spots, I wouldn’t complain…too much.  Johnson?  I wish him well at his next stop.  If there is one…

*Jordan Mickey/James Young.  Uh oh.  There goes the alphabetical order!  But it made sense to lump these guys together.  Plus, “Y” does come after “M”, you know.

Before the season, I had high hopes for both of these guys.  I had no idea if either of these two could play in the NBA.  Unfortunately, I still don’t.  That’s what happens when these guys apparently drew straws for the 13th and final active roster spot on a nightly basis.

With the way this team was sure to have (and did have) problems rebounding, I was hoping Mickey would get some minutes to try to help that problem.  Young, being his third year but still only 21, I was hoping for him to get minutes to see if he would finally develop into something useful.  Neither one got those minutes because they went to Gerald Green, Jerebko, Johnson, etc.

We already know what the veteran bench guys can do.  We didn’t (don’t) know what Mickey or Young can do.  Maybe it’s nothing.  Maybe they just sucked really bad at practice and they didn’t ultimately “earn” their time.  But it would have been nice to find out about them in real games.

Based on the above, I don’t see either back next year.  Young is unrestricted anyway.  Mickey has non-guaranteed money, but doesn’t seem likely the Cs will guarantee it.

I have no idea why, but I bought into the Young hype from Day One.  Left school early, top 10 talent if he stayed in school (“they” say anyway), steal for where they took him in the draft (17th), etc.  I’ve always had this vision that he is like Jermaine O’Neal.  Not the style of play of course.  Not the “Boston Celtic years Jermaine O’Neal”.  But the O’Neal that came into the league at 18 years old, languished on the bench in Portland for 4 years, then blossomed into an All-Star as soon as he went to Indiana.

Yeah, Young probably doesn’t turn out to be anything.  But please note both he and Jermaine were taken at #17 in the first round of their respective drafts.  So if my hunch is right…somebody owes me something…

*Kelly Olynyk.  Who do I dislike more, Johnson or Olynyk?  It’s close.  If “Game 7 against the Wizards Kelly Olynyk” showed up more, it’s obviously a lot easier to trash on Amir.  Goes without saying.  But unfortunately, THAT guy shows up once every 40 games or so.  Or something like that.  It’s mostly the abundantly average KO that is around most of the time.  So it makes the decision tougher.

Listen, Olynyk will always be better than I will ever give him credit for.  It’s just that I like my 7-footers to be able to rebound and play down low.  And he can’t.  Which infuriates me a little as well because it looks like he may actually have some ability down inside, believe it or not.  I know, this is Brad’s system and that’s what he wants Kelly to do…blah, blah, blah.  I get it.  But I don’t have to like it.

As for next year, Olynyk is a restricted free agent coming off 3.1 mil this year.  If you ask me, I let him walk.  He will want a nice raise, for whatever reason.  But look closely at the numbers.  Four years in the league and no improvement really.  He has essentially been the same guy for those four years.  Is he all of a sudden take a step up in his age 26-27 season next year?  Or beyond?  Doubtful.  So why give this guy a fat raise for that?  He is what he is and there is some value to that.  Just not the value in dollars he likely will be looking for.  Let him go.

Honestly though, I think Danny makes a good effort to keep him, sad to say.  It probably depends on what they do with the guards and who they bring in and all that.  He may not fit financially when all the chips fall into place.  But Danny does try to keep him here.

*Terry Rozier/Marcus Smart.  Pairing these guys up based on position…and length of this post!  Smart played pretty much starters minutes and Rozier was essentially your 4th guard.  Rozier seems like he may be the better ballhandler and rebounder, Smart could possibly have the better all around game when you throw in his D.  Both are 23 years old with birthdays in March, so there’s that.  Even better, they were the only Celtics to shoot less than 40% from the field (about 36% apiece for both), so I suppose there are some similarities.

Despite the fact that he shoots entirely too much and no one bothers reining him in, and despite the fact that he can still be a knucklehead at times, Smart grew on me this past season.  If Avery Bradley is indeed moved as I think, I believe Smart moves into the starting lineup and takes another step up.  Just a gut feeling.

Rozier?  Don’t be shocked if he is moved either.  Yes, he could step up to be the primary backup guard.  I can’t say I would be opposed to that, as he showed some growth between his rookie and sophomore years in the NBA.  But I have other ideas for the #3 guard.  One could be Jaylen Brown, as discussed in the previous post.  Brown filled in there when Bradley missed time earlier in the year.  If Jae Crowder stays, Brown has to get more minutes somewhere.  And he no doubt has more upside than Rozier.

I have another player in mind for the #3 guard.  That’s a story for a different day however.

Next:  Still a big name missing…

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Best of Three…

…and am I changing my mind on Washington four games to two?

Nope.

I assure you, this is not an overreaction to the C’s getting trounced in Games 3 and 4 in Washington.  But those games certainly don’t help.

In reality, the Wizards should be up 3 games to 1 right now.  They had 2 great looks to end Game 2 before it went to overtime and missed both.  People around New England I think are blinded by Isaiah Thomas’ magical(?) 53 point performance that they actually miss this simple fact.

Isaiah actually only has 32 total points since his Game 2 outburst.  Yeah, Game 3 was out of hand early.  And Game 4 got out of hand during the 26-0 run in the third quarter.  So his playing time was down a smidge.

But you know what else?  Washington finally had some answers for him.  That has been dissected over and over for some time now.  So I’m not bringing anything new to the table here.

The point to stress again is that…Isaiah can’t do it by himself.  Again, no secret.  Though Al Horford has stepped up his game for the most part in this series…in my eyes…who has been the C’s third best player?  Terry Rozier perhaps?  Yikes!!

Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart…all nice players.  But these guys simply aren’t going to beat the better teams.  Of course Rozier isn’t either.  So the Wiz double and triple IT and then…it’s over.

Guess what too?  Bradley is hurt again.  Surprise!!

We can talk about a max contract or not for Isaiah and player moves and all that when the offseason arrives.  As for this series though, will it change when the C’s get home tonight for Game 5?  I don’t see it.  Unless the team hits 19 threes again, including Crowder’s 6 for 8, as they did in Game 1.  Which I don’t see either.

Which brings me to coach Brad Stevens.  He has done what he’s could with matchups.  Trying to “hide” Isaiah on defense.  Trying to free up IT on offense.  Mixing in the regular bench guys in Smart, Kelly Olynyk and Rozier to try to maximize their time on the floor.  Even finding some use for Jonas Jerebko from time to time (but not for Amir Johnson though…oh well, can’t win them all!).

But the threes…oh God…the THREES!!  Roughly half the Celtics shots are threes.  When they go down, very nice.  But when they don’t…ugh.  During that 26 point run, the C’s kept firing up threes like they were going to get 10 points each time they would fall.  Of course they were kicking the ball all over the place too, but when they did take shots, they were ugly threes.

I know, I know, I KNOW…this is Brad’s system and it works…works a lot actually.  But when it doesn’t, someone needs to rein the team in.  Especially in the playoffs.  Didn’t seem to happen last game.

I think the Wizards bring their game plan in from DC and also their renewed confidence and win a tight one in Game 5.  Then once again blow the C’s out Friday night in Washington.  Am I happy about it?  No.  But it is what it is.

IT gets slowed down a bit, the Wiz grossly outrebound the C’s again, no other Celtics step up, the C’s don’t hit 19 threes…etc., etc., etc.  It all adds up.

Again, the progress shown by the Celtics this year has been great.  There is more work to do, as we have been saying in this space all year.  But it’s been a nice ride in the meantime.  And especially Isaiah has been fun to watch.

In the end, losing in this round shouldn’t be so depressing when you think about it.  The Celtics would get embarrassed and possibly swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.  I don’t think that is going out on a limb either.

May as well let the Wizards be that sacrificial lamb though…

Brutal…

Wow.  That may have been the worst basketball game I have ever seen.  Coming out of the blocks down 24-3?  In Game 2 of the playoffs?  Speechless.

And I’m not just talking about the Celtics’ performance.  The Hawks were pretty bad too.  The Celtics actually outscored the Hawks 69-65 after the opening barrage.  This score was over the last 42 minutes of the game or so as well.  Tough to watch.

I can’t remember seeing so many bricks being tossed up…by both teams.  I can’t even believe that the C’s shot 32% for the game.  It seemed worse.  Atlanta had 15 blocks.  Felt like 30.  R.J. Hunter was 0-3 from the field and I think they were all deflected.  Every time a Celtic drove the lane, the shot was seemingly blocked.  Or there were missed layups.  Take your pick.

Chances are your team is not going to go very far if Amir Johnson is your best player on the floor…though I’m still shaking my head over those awful pair of threes he actually lined up and took.

Chances are even better your team will not go far if Terry Rozier is arguably your 2nd best player on the floor…and it looks like he was.  That may be by default though.  No one else played well at all.

Isaiah Thomas?  4-15.  Jae Crowder?  1-9.  Marcus Smart?  1-11.  Ok, that’s actually not a big stretch for Marcus.  But it was all ugly to say the least.  Throw in Paul Millsap’s 1-12 and Kent Bazemore’s 2-14…yikes!

Airballs.  Balls off the backboard, no rim.  24 second violations.  Only 29 turnovers total, but it felt like more.  Was it good defense?  Maybe partly.  But I’m not buying it.  The C’s had plenty of open looks.  As did the Hawks.  And early on, Kyle Korver proved me wrong (of course) by burying 5 threes when there actually was someone close by most of the time.

The bottom line?  My eyes still hurt.  Badly.

Ok, the real bottom line?  My confidence in the Celtics is waning.  Kind of an understatement, I know.  But I said before the series I thought that it would be a close series that the C’s would lose in 7.  That the Celts would fight hard all the way.  Well, they do fight hard and they will continue to for sure.  It seems a little far-fetched now that this series will go close to 7.  Maybe some home cooking will help?

The slow starts over the last handful of games are a real concern.  If this happens to other local teams, we blame the coach for not having the team ready to play.  Can we do that with Brad Stevens at this point?  I don’t know if I am going to go that far, but it’s worth asking the question.  It’s inexplicable that they can come out of the locker room this poorly in the most crucial time of year.

Avery Bradley is hurt, I’ll give you that.  But it’s my opinion that they should still be competitive against the Hawks even without him.  Against the Cavs, Spurs, Warriors or the like?  Not a chance.  But the Hawks, absolutely.  I’m not sure the Hawks have been all that impressive through the first two games, especially if you take out the first 6 minutes or so of each game.

The injuries besides Bradley?  It’s a little disturbing that we are starting to hear about them now.  Maybe disturbing is too strong a word.  Disappointing, maybe?  But the fact that these are being talked about now…does it build in some excuses in case they lose the series?  Especially if they get smoked from here on in?  I hope not.  Either way I don’t want to hear about them.

Crowder said he is playing at 75%.  Smart has a bum finger.  Blah, blah, blah.  The worst?  Don’t get me going on Dirk Nowi…er, I mean Kelly Olynyk?  He couldn’t play tonight?  Shoulder?  How bad is it?  Can’t they medicate him and have him suck it up for a few minutes?  Guess not.  One inactive spot was obviously going to Bradley.  The other would’ve been John Holland.  Kelly could’ve dressed and if he could even give them a few minutes, it would’ve been better than what guys like Holland, Jordan Mickey, James Young, Hunter, etc. would give them at full strength.  And no one would’ve missed Holland.  But Kelly couldn’t do it.  As far as I’m concerned, if he couldn’t play tonight, he’d better be out for the series.  That tough guy stuff from Dirk with Kevin Love last year didn’t carry over to this year’s playoffs series I guess…

And hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for Holland!  I have no idea who he is, even if he went to Boston University for 4 years…right down the road.  But he got out in 2011.  Been playing overseas since then and this year in the D-league.  But never a minute in the NBA.  The Celts signed him 8 days ago.  And he got a minute tonight.  Got himself in an NBA box score.  Good for him.  Too bad he missed his shot attempt though.

What else can I tell you?  Not much.  Best to take this one and just flush it down the toilet.

Here’s hoping the Celtics show up in Game 3 in Boston.  I know, Captain Obvious.  But they can’t whimper out against a team of similar talent in this year’s playoffs.  What kind of taste would that leave in your mouth heading into this very important offseason?

Wait, don’t even answer that…

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