Despite winning the second leg of a back-to-back series with the Indiana Pacers yesterday, the Boston Celtics should still pursue their floor-stretching center.
The Boston Celtics got off to a hot start in the first half of their fourth game of the season–an eventual 116-111 win against the Indiana Pacers at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in front of a fan-less arena–before wilting a bit in the third quarter.
Indiana outscored the Cs 37-25 in the frame, but several players stepped up down the stretch. Payton Pritchard had the most notable performance, likely because he had yet to have the sort of across-the-board dominance (10 points on 4-8 shooting, five rebounds, five assists) that was on display Tuesday night in the Circle City.
Jaylen Brown certainly took notice:
“Payton is the GOAT, man,” Brown said after the Celtics claimed their second win of the season, knocking off the Pacers 116-111. “Payton came in there with the confidence. Definitely needed a spark coming off the bench, and Payton was everything and more for us tonight.”
The win was a spectacular one for the Celtics on that premise, but if you look deeper into it, Boston revealed several issues dealing with the Pacers’ frontcourt. In particular, Daniel Theis had issues containing Domantas Sabonis, who exploded for 14 points and eight assists from the block.
On the offensive end, Theis struggled as well, shooting just 2-8 and missing both of his attempts from beyond the arc. As he was last season, Theis is sticking out like a sore thumb in the starting lineup…and not in a good way.
His player efficiency rating (PER) is in the single digits. He has negative win-shares. His true shooting percentage is 20 percentage points below his usual contribution.
At this point, it might be fair to recognize that Jalen Rose could have a point in relation to Boston needing a more skilled big man to advance further in the postseason:
NBA analyst Jalen Rose and ESPN personality David Jacoby, who co-host the TV show and podcast Jalen & Jacoby, are down on the Celtics’ chances this season. Jacoby started off a portion of Tuesday’s podcast (at the 21:36 mark) by saying he “doesn’t believe” in the Celtics. He asked Rose to tell him why that’s the case, and Rose offered his two-cents.
“They don’t have a guy that can play the 5 and spread the floor and make plays,” Rose said. “I know that’s what you want Daniel Theis to do.”
Theis isn’t–or at least shouldn’t be–a starter on this team. While him starting has resulted in the Cs discovering that bigger could be better during spurts where he and Tristan Thompson are buoying the defense against sizable opposing frontcourts, his work is arguably done now that the discovery has been made.
The Houdini would love to see Thompson be featured alongside another big a la his long-time frontcourt partnership with Kevin Love. Instead of Theis playing in the floor-stretching big role, Myles Turner would be an ideal frontcourt complement for Boston.
After dropping 16 points (5-9 overall, 3-6 from the 3-point line) and grabbing six rebounds against the Cs, Turner once again proved what the Houdini has long believed: Turner should be the top trade target if the Boston Celtics want to maximize what they can achieve in this 2020-21 season.