Celtics coach Brad Stevens surprised many last year by turning his roster of youngsters and castaways into a playoff team that played hard against (but was ultimately swept by) the Cleveland Cavaliers. With some new pieces and more experience, his 1-1 squad is looking to build upon last season's success and move up a rung in the Eastern Conference ladder.
But Stevens, maybe more than most coaches, is still finding out what works and what doesn't with his team. And while some players show more promise than others, there is some double-up of skills in various positions and it's not yet clear who merits the higher usage. It's why, aside from a few players, his rotation will likely be a flexible, fluid thing.
The Celtics' offensive system suits a team with few set roles: the ball moves around plenty, all players are encouraged to make plays and take advantage of open looks, and exploit mismatches. It's a style of play that should also make the most of the talents of new arrivals Amir Johnson and David Lee.
Lee and Johnson form part of a frontcourt rotation that, while deep, lacks any sort of anchor. Boston was desperate for a rim protector this past summer and Johnson, while solid, doesn't make up for what they lack there. This has the makings of our first LaMarcus Aldridge game, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a bit more of the touches go his way.
The Celtics instead will depend on being active in lanes and the perimeter D of specialists like Avery Bradley and sophomore Marcus Smart. Their energy and size could make for a tough night for Tony Parker.
The closest thing Boston has to a star is the diminutive Isaiah Thomas, who will come off the bench but play substantial minutes. Thomas has led his team in scoring in both games (good for fifth in the league so far). Despite his small frame, he's a terrific finisher in the lane and equally capable of shooting from deep. Thomas will give fits to Parker, Patty Mills, or whoever else gets the assignment.
There's a scenario where guys like Evan Turner and Bradley turn in better performances, complement Thomas' scoring, and Boston runs away with a win. But I think the Spurs have too much of an advantage in the paint to drop to 1-2.
Matchup to watch: Kawhi Leonard will face a tough defender in Jae Crowder, a guy who's willing to get physical and happy to abandon his offense for the night and commit to stopping Leonard. It'll be interesting to see what kind of production he's capable of against that kind of singular attention.
|Spurs at Celtics|
|November 1, 2015|
|TD, Garden Boston, MA|
|7:30 pm CST|
|Tony Parker||PG||Marcus Smart|
|Danny Green||SG||Avery Bradley|
|Kawhi Leonard||SF||Jae Crowder|
|LaMarcus Aldridge||PF||David Lee|
|Tim Duncan||C||Tyler Zeller|
The Celtics fans' perspective can be found at Celtics Blog.
Game Prediction: Spurs by 5.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher.