Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“I think we can be pretty tough, for sure,” Walker said. “Since he’s been killing it the way he’s been, I haven’t really been able to help out like I really wanted to, so yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to coming back and making an impact on my teammates and just being readier than I was before the season ended.”
Even the limited results were encouraging for Boston. Early in the season, before Tatum’s breakout month, Walker was healthier and enjoyed the benefits of better depth on the wing than he ever experienced in Charlotte. The combination of Tatum and Walker was stellar — per Cleaning the Glass, the Celtics were 12.6 points per 100 possessions better with Tatum and Walker on floor, which is in the 98th percentile of all NBA lineups.
Well, since we’re actually doing this, it’s going to be interesting to see how the team adapts.
As Tom Westerholm points out in the article linked above, the Tatum/Walker duo was rarely on fire together during the normal part of the season. There are a variety of reasons for that, not least of which is that Tatum is still a very young player and consistency is one of the hallmarks of maturity in professional sports of all sorts.
Further, while it’s true that Kemba Walker missed more time this season than in several previous seasons combined at Charlotte, it’s also worth remembering that this team likely mismanaged Isaiah Thomas’ health (yes, it’s true that players have a responsibility to be completely honest with trainers, but it’s also true that a responsible organization will be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to player wellbeing.) The Celtics were likely holding Walker out of games that he would’ve played in with Charlotte, in part because he’s older, in part because they’re planning for a 100+ game season, and in part because frankly, they’re a better run team.
With home court advantage being non-existent during the restart, seeding is far less important than it usually is, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Celtics practice aggressive load management with Kemba during the abbreviated ‘regular season’, with concomitant hand-wringing about his health from fans.
Yes, the Celtics would like to avoid a second-round matchup with the Bucks, but it’s fair to point out that, as the #1 seed, any team planning to go to the Finals needs to expect they’ll be playing the Bucks sooner or later, and facing them in the second round means that the third round matchup will be less daunting.
And the Bucks are not without issues either…
Page 2: Where Eric Bledsoe tests positive for the virus
The Milwaukee Bucks who are in first place in the Eastern Conference and a favorite to win the NBA title are currently without point guard Eric Bledsoe, who tested positive for coronavirus and has yet to join his teammates in the bubble at the Walt Disney World Complex in Orlando Florida.
“I am asymptomatic and feeling fine,” Bledsoe told ESPN in a statement. “Once I meet the NBA protocols, I look forward to joining my teammates in Orlando.”
As with Russell Westbrook, Bledsoe’s positive test result apparently came before the teams reported to Orlando. Still, this is yet another reminder that this restart is going to be incredibly unpredictable.
The problem with this bubble is that it isn’t really a bubble. At a certain point, you have individuals who are both in the bubble and out of it.
I never thought I’d be using topology in a blog entry, but here we are.
What the NBA would like you to believe is that the bubble is a nice open set. Players, coaches, etc., will only ever come in contact with other people in the bubble.
However, because the bubble is not self-sufficient, it needs to have individuals in it that can interact with both the bubble and the area outside the bubble. Topologically speaking, these people correspond to the boundary points of a closed set.
Boundary points may be considered to be part of two sets, and so it is that there is a perimeter of individuals in this bubble that are simultaneously outside the bubble. There are people in this bubble who are also not in this bubble.
And the reality is that (1) Florida is a hot spot, and (2) the close quarters and small population of this bubble make community spread a real issue if there’s a path for the virus to follow into the bubble.
Finally: The NBA’s saying stuff that should go without saying
I think this re-start is going to reward teams that are more adaptable and flexible, not only because the environment is weird, but because things are likely to change on very short notice.
And, yes, I’m speaking as a fan, but I think the Celtics have a demonstrated ability to be more flexible than most.
The rest of the links
Boston Herald: Kemba Walker says he’s ‘trending upwards’
NBC Sports: Blakely: Why the Celtics can beat the Bucks
MassLive: Boston Celtics’ Gordon Hayward’s surprise drop in on Zoom call for Charleston HS players inspired a team | Which NBA players opted out of playing in Disney World bubble? Trevor Ariza, Davis Bertans & the complete list | Brad Stevens more focused on Boston Celtics off the court right now: ’I just want us to have a joyful period’ | Kemba Walker injury: Boston Celtics guard wants to avoid setbacks, but ‘I’m feeling really good right now’ |