Should The Celtics Trade Gordon Hayward???

You can only point the finger at so many people for the Celtics nightmarish season until you’re blue in the face. Except I know who is to blame and I will blame those said peoples until I am blue in the face. Is it because of jealously that the following people I claim to bare the brunt of the blame for living far more fulfilling lives. Why yes. What I would give to be as rich as Gordon Hayward or to live my dream of playing for the Celtics even if I am as bad as Terry Rozier if not more.

Needlessly to say I’ll be happy once Rozier is playing for another team. He’s a fine ball player. He just doesn’t fit in on the Celtics and their relationship continuing beyond this point is acting as a hinderance to all parties involved.

Unfortunately, Gordon Hayward is expected to be a Celtic for the next two-seasons. Barring a spectacular return to form it is all but assured the rehabbing All-Star will opt-in his 2020 player-option to stay with the club at an over $30 million price tag. We shouldn’t blame him. Not just for wanting to cash in his next check, but also for his inability to play up to the dollar figures Danny Ainge signed the once coveted free agent to in the summer of 2017. You can point to the advance analytics all you want Hayward did not make good on the long leash Brad Stevens and the Celtics braintrust had him on to lead the Celtics in the postseason. It’s no secret the team was so much better when Hayward could contribute, which makes his poor season that more crushing.

All the chips were lined up it seemed for the Celtics to take that next step. Now as we embark on an off-season filled with uncertainty, if their superstar point guard does not wish to remain in Boston we are left with what could have been. Hayward’s injury reshaped NBA history and we have yet to see the complete ripple effects of it.

What is Boston to do? Can they trade away Hayward’s large contract in exchange for a prospect or a draft pick? Would it be wise? In most cases no. It be ridiculously reactionary to quit on Hayward in the hopes of gaining a little at risk of losing a lot. We don’t know if a summer of rehab is what’ll do the trick for the damaged Hayward and he’s already been put through the ringer in terms of getting his timing and feel for the game back. His mind seems all the way there, it’s just his body.

There is some scuttlebutt from those on the Celtics beat about the front office turning to Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal as a backup plan if trade talks with New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis fall through. I don’t buy this for a minute. It’s one of those stories produced in the rumor mills of Twitter solely for clicks. If the Wizards want to rebuild there are best to stay away from Hayward and can possibly do better than Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and some picks that are not the top-6 Memphis Grizzlies 2020 choice or the one that if the former rolls over to next year as an unprotected pick.

If you want to move Hayward so bad you’ll have to aim lower. Much lower. Let us traverse to the other side of the country and visit old friend Evan Turner. At age 30 Turner is an average player at best, but his obscenely large contract expires at the end of the 2019-20 season.

While his tenure in Portland hasn’t always been smooth, Turner’s 2018-19 campaign showed he can still contribute. Shooting a career high in field goal percentage (46%). The Celtics can have the Trailblazers toss in center Meyers Leonard as salary flotsam to help facilitate the deal giving the Celts needed big man depth behind Aron Baynes seeing as free agent Daniel Theis wasn’t a huge success.

Hayward was supposed to carry the offense when one of, or both of Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are on the bench acting as a Point-Forward for the offense. Maybe it’s all Terry Rozier’s fault and when Hayward is paired next less ball dominate players he’ll assume the role more affirmatively. Or maybe Hayward has zero confidence in himself and will never assert himself ever again…

Guess who isn’t short on confidence and can at least run an offense decently… “The Villain”

It’s All… Someone Else’s Fault

If you’re Bill Simmons, you’re panicking because your favorite team people accuse you of shamelessly shilling for – of which now he now needlessly maligns – you need someone to blame. So you take a quick scroll to Spotrac.com to see who fits one or both of these two boxes “Who is getting paid the most” and “Who is a free agent, likely to leave in July.” The answer to both is Kyrie Irving. Also known as the lone source of offense for a team who battles constant streaks of being unable to put the orange, circular ball into the basket.

Yes. It’s Irving’s fault. All of it. Not Marcus Morris for reverting to Marcus Morris after flirting with a 50/40/90 the first half of the season. Not Terry Rozier for conspicuously losing the ability to play basketball. Not Brad Stevens; he’ll blame the coach he so smugly dubbed “The President,” but he can’t articulate why it is Stevens struggles. In the simplest way I can put it, he trots out the same exact lineups that’s proven to not work. His faith in T-Ro knows no bounds. Rozier will likely reclaim his spot in the rotation once he recovers from his minor knee injury and it’s no secret why. Anytime a player is a negative-9.4 when on the floor over the last five-games you can’t live without him.

For anyone who is hostile towards Irving’s apparent ball-stopping, what Rozier does is undoubtedly worse. He’s Irving on offense without the court-vision, handles and ability to throw a sufficient alley-op to the rolling big man.

Danny Ainge made one crucial mistake over the summer that neither I or anyone would have predicted at the time is his running back the same exact roster from last year hoping the returning players would smoothly fit into their respective, reduced roles with the returning superstars.

Celtics Improbable Home Magic

“It’s true. All of it.” Stern words said by the late galactic hero Han Solo when Rey realizes all the legends she was told was in fact true as day. She reacts amazed, astonished. Such begins the whimsical, but treacherous ride into a bold new world. This is what life is currently like for Boston fans. Going into the playoffs the team looked ready to waive the white flag. Injuries waste potentially the last year of Marcus Smart and robs us of two prime All-Star seasons from Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving. It’s as if the Basketball Gods don’t want us to get this far.

No matter what this ragtag group of late draft picks and role-players ended Giannis Antetokounmpo’s season prematurely and now lead the best 1-2 punch in the conference 2 games to zilch. At home the Boston Celtics are indestructible. The mystique of the old Boston Garden carried over to the new TD Garden(Still the FleetCenter to me). The Celtics can’t seem to stay dead when they play in front of the Beantown faithful. Terry Rozier is at an All-Star level of good at home, 22.8 points in six games, 50.5% from the field. Versus 11.7 points on 27.8% shooting on the road. It’s somewhat smoke and mirrors but Boston enjoys home-court advantage throughout this series, even if Philadelphia ties this series up by Monday, I’d still feel confident in Boston going into a pressure packed Game 5.
Embiid faltered late, possessions featuring him bogged down to one-on-one everybody else standing around. Either Embiid makes the basket or misses, if it wasn’t for the early advantage Philly gained on second chance points (18-12) the Sixers would not have jumped out to a 22-point lead by the second quarter. Horford shut down Embiid forcing the dynamic center to settle for long range shots, of which he finished 1 of 6. Coming off the Miami series where he and Simmons imposed their will, it’s a drastic shift from those two being on God mode to the minuscule effect they’re having now.
Al Horford succeeded in dragging Embiid out of his work zone opening the lanes up to rim drives from T-Ro, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. What’s shocking is the Sixers were outscored by eight when Embiid was on the floor. The veteran Horford got the first step on Embiid numerous times, including the skillful layup off the feed from T-Ro. Embiid still has lots of learning to do. Perhaps the restrictions he’s been on for the season make him vulnerable in high pressure situations when the intensity is ratcheted up a level.
Embiid wasn’t even the best player for the Sixers in Game 2. J.J Redick and Robert Covington carries Philly’s offense. Rookie sensation Ben Simmons did not convert a single field goal attempt, his lone point coming from the charity stripe in the first quarter. Brad Stevens learned from coaching against Giannis for seven-games transition defense is tremendously important. Philly scored only thirteen points in the fast break, ten in preceding Game 1. While Simmons says his did of a Game was “self inflicted”, may be right, it doesn’t negate the Celtics walling off B.S comfort zone near the basket begging him to shoot every-time he touches the ball. Maybe at home, away from the disruptive confines of Boston Simmons can regain his prowess. It’s certainly possible.
But none of this is possible without Al Horford solidifying himself not just worth his max contract but making a strong candidacy for the Hall of Fame. Ripping off a postseason run reminiscent of Bill Walton of 1977 and Pau Gasol of 2010. Horford is everything to this Celtics team, there’s so much truth to the fact he does more “beyond the box score.” A sentiment usually ridiculed by those in the toxic Boston sports media.
Bill Walton, ‘77 Postseason:
18.2 PPG, 15.2 RPG, 5.5 APG, 50.7 fg%, 19.7 P.E.R, .162 WS/48, ORtg N/A
 
Pau Gasol, ‘10 Postseason:
19.6 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 3.5 APG, 53.9 fg%, 24 P.E.R, .224 WS/48, 126 ORtg
 
Al Horford ‘18 Postseason:
18.4 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 3.6 APG, 61.4 fg%, 23.3 P.E.R, .228, 129 ORtg
Players who’ve averaged more than 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and a block in the playoffs are usually the shot blocking lane clogger kind of center (David Robinson and Ralph Sampson) and dynamic forwards (LeBron, Barkley, Durant). But for a non-traditionalist big like Horford, someone who wishes he shot the three ball sooner in his career, it’s quite the accomplishment given the duration of the Celtics run and what he was saddled with this start.
Do the Celtics have enough magic in them to continue this improbable run on Saturday nightat the Wells Fargo arenain Philadelphia? Eh. I doubt it. But with home court advantage it is not inconceivable the Celtics Win this series in 7 and have a date with LeBron in a East-Finals rematch.
And then… I don’t know what I’ll think.

A Series Of Statistical Oddities

This’ll be a series of statistical oddities and who’ll be the least sloppy team, at times Boston looked unable to avoiding shooting themselves in the foot. In the second-quarter, the Celtics committed five turnovers, four of them coming from backup guard Shane Larkin, aiding the Bucks to get off the ropes turning a twelve-point deficit to a three-point lead in the span of twelve-minutes. The thirty-to-fifteen run by Milwaukee can be attributed to the Bucks hounding the Celtics everywhere, denying ball entry to Jayson Tatum and stifling Celtic big Greg Monroe. Middleton and Giannis got hot and took control, Boston had no answer for either of them the entire day and were fortunate Milwaukee couldn’t get much of anything out of anybody else to help push them over the top, as the Celtics won Game 1, 113-107.

Bucks coach Joe Prunty mangled his team, again, he didn’t play Giannis at center, until he took John Henson out after thirty-seven Minutes, finally turning to the lineup for the entirety of overtime. But it wasn’t just that. It was not substituting Tyler Zeller in to go against Greg Monroe in the fourth quarter, a matchup Zeller feasted on in their April 3rd regular season matchup. Desperate for Al Horford, Stevens rode the 31-year-old hard all night, deciding to sub him in next to Monroe with 7:51 left in the regulation; the frontcourt is one of Boston’s worst, accumulating a negative net rating of 15.7. Yet, Prunty failed to make Boston pay in any capacity. Prunty didn’t turn to Zeller, didn’t go small, didn’t even give Jabari Parker a chance to take advantage of the traditional lineup in the forty-eight seconds the Celtics played Monroe with Horford.
Boston also enjoyed an overwhelming surplus of bullshit scoring courtesy of Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris. Since Irving was lost, Boston’s offensive rating is a below-average 103.3, worse than the New York Knicks, of all teams. It’s safe to assume, the Celtics are going to deal with games in this series where they’re going to get nothing from either Mook or T-Ro. Mook made a complete bullshit 22-foot step-back fadeaway two, at the very end of the shot clock (https://on.nba.com/2HEzM1y). When Mook makes that shot, it just isn’t your night.
Marcus Morris played exceptional defense, guarding Giannis for 28 possessions, holding him to eight-points, and holding Khris Middleton to three-points in the fourteen-possessions he spent guarding him. Terry Rozier did a tremendous job on veteran guard Eric Bledsoe, who couldn’t have bought a basket from him. Forty-three-possessions, 5 points, two turnovers, 2-of-7 shooting, Bledsoe was an absolute disaster for the Bucks, who benefiting from 2nd-year guard Malcolm Brogdon (16 points) playing in his place. Likewise, Tony Snell was an abomination, scoring a measly two-points in thirty-three minutes of play. Amateur, but promising shooting guard Sterling Brown logged only two seconds, Prunty did not trust his young guys at all and it cost him a chance steal home-court advantage from the Celtics.
Despite Henson’s impressive six blocks, the veteran center only snagged five rebounds on the defensive glass and helped Boston win the battle on the boards, Boston scoring 22 2nd chance points to Milwaukee’s 5.
Even with all of that, the Bucks still had a chance to win this game in overtime. After a beautiful Jayson Tatum finger roll (https://on.nba.com/2J1aE4i), the Celtics lead 108-105, 1:22 left t, Prunty called timeout. Middleton drove to the baseline, finding an open Brogdon, as Rozier left his man to help on defense, he missed and Giannis grabbed the running rebound, dishing it to a driving Bledsoe, who gave it to a WIDE (WIDE) open Middleton who (thankfully) missed as well. Rozier out hustled Giannis for the critical rebound, T-Ro iced the game with seven-points from then charity stripe and the Celtics galloped out of their home building buzzing with confidence.
Will the Bucks continue to shoot themselves in the foot? Can the Celtics continue to rely on Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier erratic scoring? How much will we see the Giannis at center lineup? The answer to the last question, may very well decide the series.

Giannis Will Soar Over The Battered Celtics

Boston’s 102-108 defeat on April 3rd, at the hands of Milwaukee was eyeopening. The Bucks took on a battered, shorthanded Celtics squad and couldn’t put them away, despite being in control for the entirety of the second half. Horford, Monroe, Brown, Tatum and Baynes were money from all over the court, combining for 80-points, what lost them the contest was Kadeem Allen and Semi Ojeleye scoring four-points apiece. At the time I believed if Terry Rozier was ready to go, the Celtics would’ve won the game going away. Rozier didn’t play because of an ankle, he came back the next night for Toronto and went 1-for-9 and outside of the Atlanta game, hasn’t looked right. As a starter, Rozier’s been wonderful, averaging almost 17 points a game as a starter.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can carry the offense, they’re going to be the main source for points. If Giannis holds either of them to below twenty-points, Milwaukee will win this running away. It’s almost the wrong time for substitute coach Joe Prunty to play Giannis at center given how lethal he can be guarding Boston’s two forwards. As shooters, Tatum and Brown are awesome. If you are asking either of them to make a critical pass, find the open man, they cannot do that. Passing isn’t their strong suit and we seen Stevens experiment with playing playing Tatum at point guard, to little success. Rozier is a playmaker, but not a point guard in the traditional sense. The straw that’ll stir the drink is Al Horford, he’s done it before and knows how to do it. In the four-games against Milwaukee, Big Al posts 18 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists and an astronomical 139 offensive rating. If Boston miraculously wins this season it’s because Al Horford is awesome.
Sneaky fringe All-Star Khris Middleton averaged 20 points this season on 46/35/88 splits, a modest statistical achievement, including 51.7% on twos. Despite that, Giannis and Middleton are only marginally better as a frontcourt tandem than Brown and Tatum.
Giannis/Middleton: 110.7 ORtg, 5.2 Net, 58.5 TS%
Brown/Tatum: 108.5 ORtg, 8.4 Net, 56.8 TS%
The problem is, Giannis is the best player out of those four. On the other hand, this Bucks team, while talented, has the dirtiest basement of any of this teams captained by a super-duper star. Through 71 games Eric Bledsoe’s been solid, but hardly the game-changer we all hoped he’d become for Milwaukee. Last year’s rookie guard Malcolm Brogdon’s offensive rating was higher (112) than Bledsoe’s (109) and despite his ability to play off-ball, hasn’t risen his game playing next to Giannis.
Milwaukee is a team consisting of solid spot-up shooters; 21.4% of their total points this season came from that playtype, which they run more than twenty-three other teams at 21.5 frequency rate. On “Cuts” the Bucks rank seventh worst in in the 17.2 percentile. But in isolation the Bucks are at an elite (or near-elite) 79.3 percentile. Middleton, Snell, Bledsoe are the silent killers of this deeply flawed Bucks team. And while they remain defensively challenged, Boston doesn’t have the tools to make them pay.
If Kyrie were healthy I’d take Boston over Milwaukee in a heartbeat – and it wouldn’t even be close. Prunty isn’t a good coach, falling into the same failures as predecessor Jason Kidd committed during his time there. But Giannis is a year older, wiser and Boston does not have a body on the floor that can defend him in any capacity.
My Prediction: Bucks in 5.