NBA

What Can the Celtics do to Regain Control in the East?

After going on a 17-game win streak in the beginning of the season to cooling off and still leading the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics have slowed down enough to fall out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Boston has lost 3 straight, 4 out of the last 5, and 9 out of their last 15. The All-Star break couldn’t have come at a better time, as this weekend could be a turning point in many teams’ near future. The Raptors could cool off from their 7-game losing streak, Cleveland could also slow down their new roster’s success, and Boston can come back from their midseason slump.

Coach Brad Stevens stated after their 10-point loss to the LA Clippers that a roster change could be in order.

“We’ll look at everything,” Stevens said. “Obviously, you’re always looking for small tweaks defensively and offensively, but we haven’t gotten enough out of our rotations and subs and all those things. We’ll take a deeper dive into that.”

The main goal of this is to take the load off of Kyrie Irving. Although Kyrie is attempting 18.5 shots per game (2nd highest in his career) and is making 48.6% of them (highest of his career), he needs someone else to be a surefire offensive power to take the load off of him or a defensive threat to limit the opponent’s offense (allowing Kyrie to lead the offensive as he usually does). With this mindset, Stevens and the rest of the Boston staff must explore options to tweak their lineup in any way possible.

  1. Start Terry Rozier

Boston doesn’t seem to have a problem defensively, as Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Marcus Smart all rank in the top ten in defensive win shares. This means that Boston needs an offensive weapon alongside Kyrie Irving. For prior months, Jayson Tatum has proved to be that weapon, but he has recently been in a slump and will have to regain his confidence to become that weapon. However, Terry Rozier has played very well off the bench and has even proven to be a great starter when needed. Rozier currently averages 10.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. He also is shooting 39.3% from the field and 37.4% from behind the arc. His offensive prowess would be a great help to pair with Kyrie Irving. Aaron Baynes might take the bench role if this were to happen, but if the Celtics want to conserve a bigger lineup, Jaylen Brown would most likely be shifted to the 6th man position.

 

2. Give Greg Monroe More Minutes

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Monroe is an unproven player on this roster who hasn’t done much throughout his entire career, but him seeing only 13 minutes on the floor this season doesn’t give him much of an opportunity to thrive. Giving Monroe 15-16 minutes a game, while not being much of an increase, will help him grow into the player that Boston was looking for upon the Trade Deadline. Monroe, when given the minutes, can be a worthy starter, and if he is given this opportunity slowly, he will thrive eventually. Some players take longer to adapt and develop; Monroe is one. Having a pure center like Monroe could provide an offensive boost over Aaron Baynes; Baynes is a better defender. The only problem with this move is inside defense, as having Monroe and Horford puts the load on Horford to be the defensive leader in the paint, but offensively, it would take the pressure off of Kyrie Irving to provide most of the offense.

3. Start Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart is a physical defender that could provide offense when needed. Once Smart comes back from injury, it could be of the Celtics’ best interest to start Smart over Tatum, Brown or Morris. Smart is leading the nBA in defensive win shares; his only problem is his inefficiency on the offensive end at times. This, of course, has also happened to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown this season, so it is a normal occurrence. Starting Smart will not only give them a boost defensively, but it will also give an offensive 2nd or 3rd option on sides of the offense.

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