Boston Celtics player loss his wife today…

Since this Boston Celtics nucleus was fully established, the lack of size and big-man depth was cause for concern. Although, the Celtics are off to a hot start and remain one of the top threats to win a title. Kristaps Porzingis has also proven to be an ideal fit and starting center. However, if you had to point out a flaw, the Celtics’ lack of depth at the center position certainly tops the list. 

The Boston Celtics’ Big Men Problem

Recent loses 

The Celtics have a stellar 11-3 record. However, in all three losses, their main flaw has been on full display. Boston’s first loss of the season came in an overtime thriller versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. Minnesota has many big men, including Rudy GobertKarl-Anthony Towns, and Naz Reid. Gobert’s rim protection and Reid’s inside scoring helped flip the game for the Timberwolves, as did Jaden McDaniels’ presence as a tall, lengthy two-way wing. Boston also lost to the Philadelphia 76ers by just three points, losing the rebounding battle 56-43 in the process. Boston’s defense was somewhat able to contain Joel Embiid, forcing him into several turnovers and bad shots. However, Embiid was able to punish the Celtics as an inside scorer and shot blocker, including a dominant third quarter, which completely flipped the outcome.

Yesterday, the shorthanded Celtics lost an overtime game to the Charlotte Hornets. The Celtics were missing Al Horford, so the big-man situation was already concerning. Mark Williams and Miles Bridges grabbed 16 and 15 rebounds, respectively. Furthermore, the Hornets had tons of success scoring inside in the non-Porzingis minutes. Overcoming their size and depth issues will be especially important with upcoming matchups against the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic. 

The most concerning part of the Celtics big man situation is not lack of talent but lack of depth. Porzingis and Horford are both high-level centers that fit perfectly with the rest of the team and offer two-way value. Porzingis is an elite shooter and shot blocker, and Horford is an elite spot-up shooter and high-IQ defender. However, outside those two, the Celtics’ big men are cause for concern. Luke Kornet and Neemias Queta aren’t nearly rotation players, especially on such a competitive team. However, these are the types of players that Boston has to count on in case of injury or foul trouble.

This is especially problematic considering Porzingis’ injury history and Horford’s age. Right now, I am not overly concerned and don’t believe this flaw threatens their title chances. Ultimately, there’s no perfect roster in today’s NBA, and no team is without their drawbacks. However, if Porzingis or Horford gets injured, the Celtics must find a quality replacement or their title chances would dwindle.  

Misusing Porzingis on Offense 

Boston’s clear strength is three-point shooting, but they need more shot diversity offensively. While this problem is not as bad as last year, and Jayson Tatum’s improved finishing is encouraging, shot diversity is still a concern. The biggest area for improvement is getting Porzingis more involved inside. He is shooting an incredible 79.1% within five feet of the rim on just 4.8 attempts per game. Sure, the Celtics have a loaded offense, but given this incredible production, there should be no reason not to increase Porzingis’

Misusing Porzingis on Offense 

Boston’s clear strength is three-point shooting, but they need more shot diversity offensively. While this problem is not as bad as last year, and Jayson Tatum’s improved finishing is encouraging, shot diversity is still a concern. The biggest area for improvement is getting Porzingis more involved inside. He is shooting an incredible 79.1% within five feet of the rim on just 4.8 attempts per game. Sure, the Celtics have a loaded offense, but given this incredible production, there should be no reason not to increase Porzingis’ touches and volume inside. Evan Mobley is also on a loaded offensive team and is far less polished than Porzingis. On 9.3 attempts per game, Mobley is shooting 65.6% from the same distance.

 

Given this stark difference, it’s hard not to argue for Porzingis to get more looks inside. Furthermore, Porzingis being used more gives the Celtics an avenue to match up with bigger teams better and makes their offense far less predictable. Especially on nights when shots aren’t falling, getting Porzingis involved on the interior should be a top priority. Against the Hornets, it was a tie game with 30 seconds to go, and Porzingis was wide open down low. However, Jaylen Brown opted to take a contested three. He missed, and the Celtics would go on to lose. This play perfectly highlights how an over-emphasis on three-pointers hurts the team. 

The Last Word 

Ultimately, these are relatively minor problems in the grand scheme of things. These problems don’t impact the Celtics’ label as contenders or even favorites for that matter. However, they are issues to watch as the season progresses. If Boston can fix these issues they will likely establish themselves as consensus favorites and feel like a true juggernaut. If not, there could be a blueprint on how to beat the Celtics. 

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