Opening Up The Files On The Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics: 7 notes and takeaways heading into six-game road trip

The various injuries Rob has suffered in the 28 games he’s played this season is concerning for both now and the future, as the organization has high expectations for him down the road. He’s missed games for knee injury management, ankle injury, load management, and most recently a hamstring injury.

The Boston Celtics start a six-game road trip this weekend after getting back on track and in the win column after a three-game losing skid over this last week. In doing so, we’ve seen a handful of odd occurrences and decisions from this team in the final stretch of the regular season.

1.Rob Williams

I believe it’ll be best to have Rob come off the bench when he’s healthy and ready to return. It’s time to truly start utilizing him as an accessory and not a necessity. I’ve felt this way for most of the season, as I never enjoyed seeing Derrick White come off the bench, I think he’s too good with the starting group to be coming off the bench for this team.

That said, Rob is the ultimate game changer, so it’ll be challenging to have a player of his caliber come off the bench. But at the same time, it’s due to Boston’s depth that this is even a conversation.

Rob will be with the Celtics during this road trip.

2.Rotation

Head coach Joe Mazzulla needs to solidify a true eight to 10 man rotation that he can trust and lean on heading into the playoffs. All we hear about is the “amount of depth on this team is deep”, so there shouldn’t be any reason to not have a true eight to 10 man rotation. It’s crazy that we’re this close to the playoffs and we’re still seeing roster and lineup experimentation.

Sam Hauser has leaped Payton Pritchard and most recently Grant Williams in the rotation. We’ve seen Mike Muscala and Blake Griffin start games and be the first – and sometimes only – big men to come off the bench in games. Derrick White never knows if he’s starting or coming off the bench until the day of the game (it seems). 

Mazzulla needs to figure out this part of the Celtics’ equation.

3.Grant Williams

Grant Williams has had a rough month. He earned his first DNPCD in two years in a game against the Cavaliers on Mar. 1 due to a “matchup” issue. Then he was caught in Spidey-Mitchell’s web, missing two game-winning free throws against Cleveland again, just five days later. Grant is essentially not in the rotation right now.

This could be a tough-love situation from Mazzulla. A slice of humble pie, similar to the R&R that he gave to Sam Hauser when he was going through his two-month shooting slump before the start of the new year. 

It’s worth mentioning that Grant has been dealing with an elbow/arm injury that showed up on an injury report as “right elbow swelling” on Feb. 14 ahead of a game against the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s quite possible he’s nursing an injury, however, he hasn’t popped up on the injury report for this in almost a month.

4.Derrick White

Derrick White has been the most reliable and consistent player for the Celtics this season. He’s the only player on the team to play in every game and is having a career-year at that, averaging 45.7 percent from the field and 37.2 percent from behind the arc. Not to mention being one of the best two-way players in the league, he’s producing an All-NBA Defense caliber type of season. White has exceeded expectations this season. 

I expect White to continue starting while Rob is out during this road trip. I’ve mentioned a few times now that White should be in the starting lineup, as he’s too good with this group.

5.Shooting

The Celtics have bought into Mazzulla’s offensive philosophy of shooting as many 3-pointers as possible in any game.  As a result, Boston has shot 64-of-185 from deep over their last four games.

I’d really enjoy seeing more work in the midrange from everybody. Creating elbow jumpers and being able to hit that shot consistently holds value in the NBA.

Lastly, can they run plays and get to the basket more often than not, please?

6.Load Management

I do think at this point in the season that load management is a necessary practice for this team to follow. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Marcus Smart, and Malcolm Brogdon should all be put on a shelf throughout these final four weeks of the regular season. We saw how fatigue impacted this exact team by the time they landed in the NBA Finals. Let’s prevent hat.

Derrick White is really the only player on the roster who I trust to be ready and healthy for any game on Boston’s schedule. 

7.Defense

The Celtics need to start playing the high-level of defense that led this group to the Finals last season. In the recent three-game losing streak, the Celtics lost double-digit leads in each game, one as high as 28-points against the Brooklyn Nets, which led to losing the game.

It’s great the C’s are able to keep up with these high-powered offenses, as they’ve scored at least 100 points in 14 of their last 16 games. But not playing defense, blowing leads, playing in back-to-back overtime games can all be prevented by playing better defense.

Here’s the upcoming six games for the Celtics on two-week road trip: Atlanta, Houston, Minnesota, Portland, Utah, Sacramento.

Follow us on Twitter @CelticsFiles

Photo credit: Barry Chin, Boston Globe

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