We are less than three weeks away from the NBA season resuming at Disney World in Florida. The Celtics, along with other teams, have already settled in to the bubble and have begun practice. The Celtics first game is July 31st against the Bucks, but let’s look at some of the obstacles they'll face.
Out of Shape
Ever played for your high school team and the first practice after winter break is terrible? That might happen here with the Celtics. From the first game we’ll see which players need less minutes. I expect players to have a rough time getting up and down the floor and less fast breaks. The Celtics were never the run and gun type of crew, but I expect that 24 second shot clock to be used every possession.
And being out of shape comes with mental errors. Missed free throws, missed layups, and dribbling the ball out of bounds may happen. Guys will have to get accustomed to playing a real basketball game.
Lack of Chemistry
This part of the game is natural when a team hasn’t played with one another for months. The chemistry isn’t there yet, and no amount of practice will makeup for lost time. The only way to get back to where they once were is to get back on the court in actual games. The C’s have eight games to figure it out and get it together. Nonetheless, expect turnovers and lack of movement on offense. I’m sure there will be a lot of possessions late in the shot clock where someone will take a poor, last second shot. Guys like Tatum and Walker, who can play one on one, will be key during these times.
I also expect to see more threes being shot as guys get back in shape. When players are tired and there’s no chemistry, ill-advised shots occur. Whether the Celtics will be able to make them will be important. Expect some form of sloppy play. However, these chemistry obstacles will be solved after a few games.
Defense in Key Moments
On the defensive end there will be breakdowns and a few easy baskets. Guys will miss their assignment and be slow on rotation due to the lack of communications. Surely coach Stevens is trying to tighten those things up right now in practice. But given that most guys practice offense and not defense on their own, expect some buckets given.
But during the close games, the defense and margin for error will get smaller. Guys like Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart will be key in stopping the ball. It’s not a matter of defense all 48 minutes, but the last three minutes of each quarter.
The Celtics already lack the physical presence in the paint with their front court. They have their guards defending Forwards and Centers. Look out to see just how much responsibility this Celtics backcourt will have on defense. As far as offense goes, Tatum should be the number one option, with Walker and Hayword playing the wingmen.
When the NBA resumes expect guys trying to get over these obstacles together while on the court. Coach Stevens will have a uphill battle getting his ball club to where they once were before COVID. Nonethless, the Celtics have eight games before the postseason to fix this so we’ll see what happens.
Feature Image Via EssentiallySports.com