Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
[Kenny] Smith was very complimentary of the C’s on Thursday, saying they are the second-best team in the Eastern Conference with the second-best player — Isaiah Thomas — in the East. But Charles Barkley had a very different view of Boston, and IT was at the center of his reason, too.
“Isaiah Thomas has to do so much heavy lifting, just like Russell Westbrook,” Barkley said. “… That to me is the problem and the weakness of the Boston Celtics. Isaiah Thomas, he has to make every important basket. That to me is the weakness of the Boston Celtics.” Barkley went on to name the supporting casts for the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards, both of whom are hot on the Celtics’ heels for the No. 2 seed. Boston has Thomas, a top three MVP candidate, according to Barkley, but the Hall of Famer seems to believe IT doesn’t have enough help.
Charles Barkley is right. The fact that Isaiah Thomas bears a heavy scoring burden is problematic for the Celtics.
Teams are starting to blitz and double-team Isaiah more frequently and the Celtics are still getting comfortable handling the pressure.
So Barkley is right. The Celtics have a major flaw. This is not breaking news.
What’s silly about Barkley’s “analysis” is that he cites depth in Toronto and Washington as reasons why they’ll surpass Boston in the playoffs.
Guys named Valunciunas, Morris, and Gortat somehow trump guys named Bradley, Crowder and Horford?
According to Real GM stats, Boston’s often maligned bench ranks higher than Toronto and Washington.
I realize Chuck is more of a personality and less of a true analyst, but sometimes bad commentary rubs me the wrong way and I need to address it.
PS – the Cs wrap up their West coast trip tonight against Denver. The Nuggets’ health bears watching – Gallinari, Jokic and Faried all missed Wednesday’s game vs Washington.
On Page 2, Al Horford is coming out of his funk.
Also important to the Celtics is Horford, which makes it rather helpful to the enterprise that he’s begun to play really well. It’s been noted here that the club is 34-17 with him and 7-7 when he doesn’t play, but over the last three games he’s played (he missed the losses to Phoenix and the Clippers with a sprained right elbow), the big man is averaging 12.0 points on 57.7 percent shooting with 6.7 rebounds and 6.3 large assists. He’s made 3-of-4 treys.
“I’m starting to feel good,” Horford said. “I’ve been in a weird funk. It’s been weeks, and I really don’t understand it, so I’m just trying to do everything that I do — my routine, keep working, keep watching film — and I knew that eventually I was kind of going to get over that. Hopefully I can start getting some momentum now.”
In some ways, Horford counts as more than just one player because of his residual effect on others.
“I try to bring balance,” he said. “I just want to be making the right plays. I probably have to do a better job of staying after guys and making sure that we understand that we have to play the right way. I just have to keep making plays, either scoring or passing the ball and just making the game easier for Isaiah and the rest of the guys.”
We’ve been over Horford’s production vs his contract vs impact on the team a gazillion times. But I think the team record with and w/o is most telling.
He’s critical to this team’s success.
I’m more worried about his health than his contract. Here’s the tally on the season:
10 games in November (concussion and birth of child), 2 games in January (groin) and 2 games in March (elbow).