The Celtics need Monroe to stay hot with playoffs around the corner

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 08: Karl-Anthony Towns
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 08: Karl-Anthony Towns /

Greg Monroe must continue improved play as playoffs loom

Earlier in the year, we talked about why Greg Monroe was a solid pickup to an already well-assembled roster.

The Boston Celtics have been without one of their premiere offseason acquisitions (Gordon Hayward), and naturally the team’s scoring has been a growing concern, especially when it comes to the second unit.

While guys like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were supposed to bring some good production from a bench-based role, Hayward’s untimely injury forced the team to make rotational adjustments.

Terry Rozier has shown an uncanny ability to show up offensively when called upon. His potential to be an X-factor for Boston during the playoffs has been well documented, but the Celtics felt Rozier might need some help once the playoffs roll around. This prompted Danny Ainge to give Monroe a call.

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Initially, as many people know, things were not rosy.

Monroe struggled early with his new team, failing to reach double digit scoring in his first six contests with Boston, and shooting an abysmal 41 percent from the field.

His plus minus during that stretch (-4.0) forced many to question if he was already washed up, and not ready to contribute in any meaningful way. Things looked even worse when Brad Stevens decided to bench Monroe in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Monroe, however, responded beautifully in the face of adversity.

"“I know what these fans expect out of the team and this team has been playing at a high level” Monroe told reporters after a win against the Hornets that saw him dropping 14. “I just wanted to come in and, like I’ve been saying, just try to enhance what they already got going. It’s just been tough for me getting a rhythm, especially with my situation this year, but it felt good to get some extended minutes, actually get out there, get into the flow of the game and just try to be as effective as possible.”"

Responding with a very efficient stretch that saw him shooting over 70 percent from the field, it seems that Monroe’s comfort level is growing by the day. This is particularly important for the Celtics with the news that Smart could potentially be out for a significant part of the rest of the regular season.

Monroe’s latest game saw him getting increased minutes due to Smart and Kyrie Irving‘s absences due to injuries, resulting in his first double-double as a Celtic (16 points and 10 rebounds on 89 percent shooting).

Smart’s effect on the team is obvious. His knack for getting people at a different intensity level is not debatable anymore, and his contract situation will be one of the most interesting storylines to follow once the season is over.

For now, however, someone has to take the reigns and try to match smart’s output on the stat sheet, especially once the playoffs roll around.

While Monroe hasn’t been as consistent as most people thought he would be, he is getting better and should only improve his game before the playoffs roll around.

His value is also going to shine through once the games slow down and the half-court is prioritized, as the playoffs always do.

Next: Rozier is the Celtixs' X Factor

Monroe may not be the emotional leader Boston lost in Marcus, but his production and ability to affect the offense could heavily impact Boston’s success in the postseason.