A Crunch-Time Crime

by | Sep 11, 2020 | Atlantic, Celtics, Eastern Conference | 0 comments

Me the Celtics fan: OMG! What an awesome game! They had it, then they didn’t, then they had it! Then they lost it! What a series. So exciting to watch. I thought for sure they would close the deal in crunch-time! Kemba Walker’s shot just missed! Man! This is going to be a massive game 7! Solid D. Hit the 3. Celtics win!

Me the detached beat writer: This was an interesting game. On the one hand, the Celtics seemed like they could dominate the flow and squash down any mini-run the Raptors could muster. On the other hand, they still don’t appear to have a crunch-time player that can get it to the hoop and finish. Game 7, for me, is about who is going to lose to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Heat have Jimmy Butler. While the Raptors no longer have Kahwi Leonard.

Next question.

I’m really hoping the intense ebb and flow of those overtime periods aren’t the jumbled visions that will haunt me should the Celtics drop game 7. Jaylen Brown getting fumble-stripped unable to power past bodies. Jayson Tatum hopefully weak trying to crash the right side down under. Will they ever have the brute force necessary to impose their will and ensure a hoop or guarantee a foul? Maybe. But trying to finesse a fingertip roll down below in crunch-time is a low percentage endeavor. They just might not be strong enough at this point in time.

Perhaps never.

For there are moments when crashing and splashing into the paint works early on in the contest because there is time and defending players are being very careful not to pick up avoidable fouls. In crunch-time the defenders have more leeway with the officials because if you don’t commit a flagrant slap on the arm or obviously hamstring or bully the incoming player, (and there might even be a slow-mo foul if challenged), the refs, might just ‘Let’em Play.’ Sink or swim. And you might be out of Challenges.

And what’s the deal with Kemba Walker? How is he sinking only his second basket all game long somewhere at the end in overtime? I thought the skinny on Walker was that he hits the big shot. Design him into the flow and make him the 1st or 2nd option to have the ball and have a chance to tie or end something. It felt like in last night’s thriller that the idea of him being the go to guy only popped into Celtic’s Coach Brad Stevens’ head suddenly in crunch-time.

It also seems like more planning is directed toward Brad Wanamaker fitting into the flow as Stevens usually and casually pulls Walker, and only Walker to begin his off-the-bench set up. Then he can’t get him back in because apparently, Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis, and Wanamaker are workout buddies and the three of them run obviously rehearsed plays which they developed back when all 3 were coming off the bench. They feel comfortable together. Smart runs the offense. It keeps Walker off the floor. 

It’s about adjusting on the fly. Hopefully, Brad Stevens, if he wants Walker to be the 1st or 2nd, heck, even the 3rd option in crunch-time, then he has to re-manage his first substitutions and remind his bench guys, as well as his not-quite-yet Max players, that Walker is a proven commodity. 

To ignore Kemba Walker is a crunch-time crime.