What to do at the 5 against the Nets

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The playoffs are right here, and the Boston Celtics are a bit of short-handed. What does Jaylen Brown’s absence imply for the group?

Merely, subsequent man up.

That’s important for the Celtics’ frontcourt, as Rob Williams is banged up and could be considerably restricted within the sequence. That would go away Tristan Thompson as the one large with main minutes by means of the common season to fight the Brooklyn Nets.

Understanding what Brad Stevens does on the 5 is to know the circumstances surrounding this sequence. The Nets have been enjoying Blake Griffin and Jeff Inexperienced, savvy NBA veterans who’ve misplaced a half-step on the 5 to create a hyper-skilled offensive lineup. It’s contributed to a group shattering information for offensive manufacturing.

Meaning coach Stevens has some choices to make. He can attempt to match Thompson (or a wholesome Rob Williams) to them for almost all of the sport. Or he can embrace going smaller, throwing Jabari Parker and/or Grant Williams some minutes on the 5.

Photograph by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE by way of Getty Photos

For Parker, that is precisely the rationale he was introduced in: to play the 5, rating the ball when the group wants offense and be a singular weapon. With out Jaylen within the lineup, there’s little doubt the Celtics will battle to maintain up with the torrid tempo of an offense spearheaded by Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant. If Stevens decides the reply isn’t in making an attempt to cease them however in scoring with them, Parker could get some burn.

Per 36 minutes, Parker is averaging 16.7 factors and 9.4 rebounds since donning Celtic inexperienced. His Basketball Reference web page estimates that he’s spent 52% of his minutes on the 5 this 12 months, a profession excessive. Boston’s offensive ranking rises to 118 when he’s on the ground, 4 factors above their common output.

For Grant, it is a spot I’ve at all times felt is most pure for him. He’s a robust, stocky, cerebral do-it-all participant who is healthier defending stronger guys than fast ones. He’s splendid for carrying on Blake Griffin or Jeff Inexperienced in a best-of-seven sequence, outworking them, defending them in isolations and stopping them from having an enormous offensive imprint on the sport.

Out of the 2, Williams is the defensive-minded man the Celtics flip to as an undersized heart. His job might be to come back in, lock up Griffin or Inexperienced, and transfer the basketball. He could make open pictures when stationed on the perimeter and assist facilitate from atop the important thing.

His protection in clutch conditions has been heralded earlier than:

Stevens has to take a look at issues from a holistic standpoint. If he does go smaller, he’s placing extra minutes on Williams or Parker on the 5. Meaning fewer minutes for them on the 4, and the necessity for different wings to step up. Our personal Jack Noonan just lately dove into what an vital sequence that is for the wing rotation, a gaggle already shorthanded as they make up for the Jaylen Brown absence.

Semi Ojeleye and Romeo Langford could already be stretched past their means as they try and sustain with Kevin Durant, James Harden and taking pictures specialist Joe Harris. Is it throughout the group’s greatest pursuits to go small on the 5 to match with Griffin, solely to create an obstacle in opposition to one other All-Star? That’s the problem with how loaded the Nets are: it’s like enjoying whack-a-mole with future Corridor-of-Famers.

There’s yet another “break glass in case of emergency” possibility: stretch-5 Luke Kornet. Whereas listed at 7’2”, Kornet has taken 64% of his profession discipline aim makes an attempt from behind the 3-point line. That’s an astounding quantity for somebody of his measurement. The pictures haven’t fallen at a excessive charge since coming to Beantown (making solely 25% of his treys) however Kornet is a singular offensive chess piece as a result of groups need to respect his jumper from the highest of the important thing.

In essence, Kornet’s main worth is in offering a fantastic counter to groups who’re in drop protection. The Nets are vulnerable to be extra switchable after they go small, however may steal some minutes in opposition to Griffin by enjoying Kornet right here. If the Nets attempt to stop Blake from switching and drop him, placing Kornet subsequent to Jayson Tatum or Kemba Walker within the pick-and-pop isn’t a horrible thought:

The most effective-case situation, for all events, is for Robert Williams to be wholesome, productive and capable of play upwards of 20 minutes. That simplifies the rotations for Stevens and not less than buys him by means of Sport 1 to really feel out the sequence and what the Nets plan on doing. If Williams is out, or not impactful in his minutes, it’s arduous to ascertain Thompson enjoying greater than half-hour.

It’s important that the Celtics determine what to do the remainder of the time.

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