Saturday, April 13, 2024
HomeBasketballThree Leaf Clover: Pritchard and Hauser are answering all of the questions

Three Leaf Clover: Pritchard and Hauser are answering all of the questions


I don’t wish to be hyperbolic, however the Celtics are actually good. In truth, they’re closing in on being among the best Celtics groups ever. In the event that they win 62 video games, which is a Mitt Romney-esque Conservative-ish projection, that will tie them for the fifth most wins in Celtics historical past. In the event that they handle 64 wins, they’d be 4th. Stars alone don’t drive a workforce to that kind of success, so immediately we’re speaking bench.

Stat of the Week: +11.9 web score

Coming into the season, the Celtics bench had questions. Perhaps not as many as 50 Cent, however followers and analysts have been rightfully skeptical in regards to the bench’s means to contribute to high-level basketball (exterior of Al Horford, who’s extra like a sixth starter and ideal in most each manner). The 2 poster boys of this exterior doubt have been Payton Pritchard and Sam Hauser.

Each have been coming off up-and-down seasons the place they waxed and waned from the lineup, in Pritchard’s case principally waned, and noticed little or no motion within the NBA Playoffs. Their weaknesses have been bandied about consistently. Can they defend? Can they do something aside from shoot? Are they athletic sufficient?

On the time, these questions have been honest, however they missed the purpose, blinded to what really issues. Who cares what the reply to every query is individually; what actually mattered was whether or not Pritchard and Hauser might contribute positively. The style of that contribution is in any other case irrelevant as long as it brings a profit when they’re on the court docket. Properly, these two have answered that with a powerful sure.

In truth, the Celtics are about 2 factors per 100 possessions higher with Sam and Payton on the court docket than off.

Context is clearly vital right here. They play a number of their minutes with Jayson Tatum and matching-up with different bench gamers. Tatum has lengthy carried bench heavy models to absurd web scores (it’s additionally a cause why Jaylen Brown’s on/off differential and superior stats lag behind his precise impression).

Even accounting for context, Pritchard and Hauser have been a powerful success off the bench. It might profit the Celtics in the event that they performed groups to a draw whereas on the court docket collectively, permitting the starter heavy models to dominate (which they do). However that’s not what’s taking place. The starters are bludgeoning groups like a mid-prime Robert Baratheon, and then Pritchard, Hauser, and Al are available in and begin raining from deep, like Daenarys on her dragon, and outscore opponents at a fair larger fee. Simply take a look at the top-10 3-man lineups for the Celtics. It’s affected by Hauser and Pritchard.

Have Pritchard and Hauser answered all of the preseason questions on their video games? No, however they’ve answered the one one which issues.

X’s and OOOOHHhhhhs: Timeless Al Horford

It’s legitimately unimaginable what Al Horford is doing defensively at his age. I’m allowed to talk about Al like he’s aged as a result of I’m a lot youthful than him, nearly a complete 9 months youthful the truth is. Horford has lengthy been among the best, and doubtless most underrated, defensive gamers within the league, and that’s holding true this season.

As he’s aged, the way in which he performs protection has modified although. He’s now not the change all the things big he was beneath Ime Udoka or Brad Stevens. However the athletic decline has coincided with one of many smartest facilities ever studying the sport at a fair larger degree. Al’s BBIQ is like Vince Carter dunking on Frederic Weis: simply whenever you assume he’s reached the height, he retains on climbing. He helps on drives earlier than the ballhandler even is aware of the place he’s going.

The second Coby White takes a left-hand dribble, Al floats right down to the baseline and cuts off the drive. Then, he’s instantly again to Vucevic forcing him to swing it. This isn’t the livid protection of Marcus Sensible endlessly flying round. It’s the protection of a person that is aware of what’s taking place earlier than it does.

That’s to not say Al is incapable of transferring his ft. He nonetheless can, but it surely’s actually his understanding of house, and his inch good data of how far he can sag off and nonetheless contest that’s maintaining him elite. He offers Lavine loads of house right here, however Al is at all times beneath management, nearly baiting Lavine to attempt him on the rim. He does. It doesn’t work.

Al is so good at studying the sport, so fast to grasp what an offense is attempting to do, that he may simply go full-Brady on us and play into his mid-40s.

Non-basketball Stuff of the Week: West Virginia’s workforce

I dwell in Morgantown, West Virginia, which is a reasonably unremarkable place all issues thought-about. It’s main declare to fame is being the house of West Virginia College. Morgantown, and West Virginia normally, primarily had zero ties to the Boston Celtics, after which Joe was promoted to move coach. If you’re one way or the other unaware, or don’t care, Mazzulla spent half a decade in Morgantown enjoying at WVU.

West Virginians, and WVU followers, are a loyal individuals. “As soon as a Mountaineer, All the time a Mountaineer” isn’t only a platitude, it’s an oath. And West Virginia cherished Joe when he was at WVU. He was precisely the kind of scrappy, hardworking underdog that West Virginians see themselves as. It doesn’t harm that he pocketed John Wall and dropped 17 within the Elite 8 both.

As a result of a Mountaineer is the pinnacle coach of the Boston Celtics, Joe Mazz has turned the Celtics into West Virginia’s workforce. I’ve buddies that haven’t watched an NBA recreation in years asking me if I caught the Celtics final evening. It’s a collision of my two properties, Morgantown and Mass, that I didn’t see coming. Joe may not be a local son of West Virginia, however identical to me, he’s an adopted one, and West Virginians love their youngsters unconditionally.



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