Brad, a half-injured roster, and a ☘️ chemistry set: The 16 games

Brad Stevens -chemistry - Boston Celtics coach - coaching adjustments - NBA coach of the year

Not going to go all optimistic here. Injuries are bad. It’d be much better to just have a healthy roster and 16 games to fine tune.

Still, given their position in the standings, the Celtics have an opportunity. Picture Brad Stevens at his chemistry set (probably still in his room), tinkering wonderfully. (cc: Danny Ainge.)

By J.D. Anderson

(Adapted and expanded from a “let’s brainstorm” post on Reddit earlier today.)

— 1. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown (when he’s back) as a #1/#2 option.

This does not mean, with respect, “let’s get Jayson Tatum 20 shots.” But it does mean, encouraging Tatum to be aggressive, getting him lots of touches, and seeing what happens. Letting Tatum loose, so to speak.

This is an approach Stevens took last year with Jaylen Brown in the playoffs, particularly in a couple of out-of-hand losses to the Wizards and Cavs.

— 2. Player development

Can Semi Ojeleye guard 4s, and even 5s? Can he become a monster offensive rebounder? If playing 5, 6 minutes at a stretch in non-garbage time, can he develop some offensive confidence? Let’s go to the chemistry set and find out.

I’m less optimistic about Guerschon Yabusele than others. This is not a criticism, just assessment. But this is a chance to prove that being non-optimistic about Yabu is wrong-headed.

— 3. Lineup chemistry

How about Aron Baynes, Greg Monroe, Al Horford, Rozier, and Semi?

High-low post with Baynes and Monroe. Al on the wing for spacing. Lots of Rozier cuts. Yes, you’d wind up pounding it in to Monroe quite a bit. Slow the game down, see how it works.

Make LeBron James (for example) guard someone down low. Repeatedly. Pound the boards. No, this is not going to become the new NBA trend; quite the opposite. But when everybody’s scheming and building their roster to “stop the 3,” having a little 1980s in the toolbox might be a useful thing. No one is used to it.

— 4. Scheme variation

Would love to see some Stevens tinker-testing with occasional full-court pressure by Rozier and others. Especially against teams like the Wizards, the Cavs, Toronto.

Yes, yes. Full-court pressure and trapping have a bad name in the NBA, especially as a full-time, round-the-clock thing, a la the Milwaukee Bucks. The more so with an injured roster. But it would be nice to see how certain teams react. And if the Celtics are going to be playing bottom-of-the-roster guys for a lot of minutes, it would be nice to take advantage of their energy. When you’re less skilled offensively, it makes sense to make use of your strength in hustle. Defense is mostly effort.

Another possibility: go zone. This is not a great overall scheme for the 3-point era. But especially against teams that live in the paint, it can make for a nice change of pace. The Celtics found this out mid-season when some teams employed it against them, especially with Marcus Smart on the floor. It’s worth a shot.

— 5. Other — Lob to Greg Monroe when there’s 3 seconds to play & we need two points? More backpicks and backdoor cuts for/by Jayson, Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris?

Have lots of other ideas but please add yours.

You can comment below, or at the prestigious Celtics Reddit page, or at #StevensEffect on Twitter.

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Celtics247 staff

Celtics247 staff

Celtics247 staff is composed of fans, journalists, disbarred attorneys, people laid off by ESPN, and other disreputable types who spend too much time watching basketball -- and loving it. If you'd like to join our merry band, you can post a comment, tweet us at @Celts247, or email us (see the contact page.) The only requirement is that you bleed green.

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