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.
…Theis has been the only big that Celtics coach Brad Stevens can consistently lean on. Theis’ playing time has spiked to 28.5 minutes per game — up more than 4 minutes per game from the regular season — and he’s responded by turning in inspired play against a Gasol/Ibaka duo that has a combined earning of $48.8 million this season. That’s $43.8 million more than Theis is making.
And it’s defense that has been the story with Theis this postseason. Through nine playoff games, the Celtics are allowing only 99.6 points per 100 possessions when Theis is on the floor. Narrow that focus to the Raptors series and the number plummets to 92.6 (and spikes to 105.2 in the 97 minutes Theis is off the floor against the Raptors). Among players averaging at least 15 minutes per game, Theis has the best defensive rating in the conference semifinals (Jayson Tatum is next best at 94.6, PJ Tucker is the closest non-teammate at 95).
In Monday’s 111-89 in Game 5 against the Raptors, the Celtics bench played a significant part, especially Wanamaker (15 points).
“I don’t know how long he played in that first half, but it felt like 13 or 14 minutes,” coach Brad Stevens said. “It was hard to take him out. He was playing great. When [the Raptors] go to their zones and things like that, he’s got such a great feel for the game, great instincts. He can adjust with the flow.”
What a performance like Wanamaker’s does is allow Stevens to give Smart or Kemba Walker rest without a significant dropoff. Wanamaker was plus-13 in 28 minutes in Game 5.
It’s nice to see Daniel Theis getting attention for something other than being the victim of shitty calls (aka the War on Theis). He’s played above expectations all season and showing no signs of slowing down. Theis has collected four fouls only once in this series.
The real surprise to me in this series is the bench play. While their scoring average (19.7 ppg) is next to last, the second unit is 1st in FG% (52%), 3rd in 3 FG% (34%), and 4th in +/-. In each of the three wins, the Cs have received double-figures from one bench player (Robert Williams with 11 and 10 points in Gms 1 & 2, and Wanamaker with 15 in Gm. 3).
On Page 2, Toronto is banged up mentally and physically.
Serge Ibaka in a walking boot and is not sure he will play in Game 6. pic.twitter.com/YzDbPMNqhF
— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) September 8, 2020
Afterward, coach Nick Nurse called out All-Star Pascal Siakam, who is averaging 15.8 points in the series and 15.4 percent shooting from the 3-point line. Even in Game 4, when he scored 23 points, Siakam missed 11 3-point attempts.
“He’s already been through deep playoff runs and had spectacular games,” Nurse said. “I’m not sure why he’s been so out of rhythm since the restart here. He hasn’t had a lot of great games. I’m not sure he’s been in great rhythm, and it’s too bad because he’s been spectacular in last year’s playoffs and he was spectacular all season long. But we’ve still got some games to play, so maybe he can get his rhythm.”
Wow, that quote from Nick Nurse is shocking. He’s essentially throwing up his hands and quitting on the player. You figure this out.
I’m willing to bet Serge Ibaka plays tonight, but any sort of limitation on his athleticism will only benefit the Celtics.
The rest of the links
Mass Live – Smart named to All-Defensive Team