Our CelticsLife readers have broached the idea of having Kevin Garnett mentor Marcus Smart on channeling anger on the court to achieve success. I will add to that the idea of having Paul Pierce instruct the team on fighting to get into the paint.

Celtics President Danny Ainge went on record that when he came on board he viewed the 2001-02 Celtics team that went to the Eastern Conference Finals as "overachieving", meaning the record and short-term performance didn't mirror the true talent of the team as a whole. He traded Antoine Walker because he saw him as part of the problem. Despite his size and talent, Toine would hoist one long-range shot after another while Paul would fight his way into the paint, often taking several defenders with him. As partial proof, I will submit the fact that for that same season, The Captain took roughly double the free throws (643) that his teammate, Walker, did (324).

Brad Stevens' troops
are settling for long-range shots a la Toine. Jayson Tatum could use some tips from Pierce. Jayson's occasional drives to the hoop can be very effective, but opponents may have learned how to defend them. No one figured out to defend Paul with those herky-jerky, hesitation moves. Tatum scored only nine points in the loss to the Cavaliers and shot zero free throws.

Jaylen Brown scored five points in the loss and took only two free throws, making one of them. With his length and athleticism, he has the ability to shoot from distance or drive into the paint. He should watch videos of the late Reggie Lewis' baseline drives. Boston shot 40.4% on field goals for the game hitting 36-of-89. Cleveland shot 53.6% on field goals on 45/84. The Celtics shot 26.3% compared to the Cavaliers 53.3% on threes while attempting eight more than Cleveland.

Coach Brad Stevens indicated that he doesn't question the fight in his players. But let's put that quote into context (per MetroWest's Scott Souza)

“I don’t question the fight of this group at all,” Stevens insisted. “I have no doubt this group will respond when hit in the mouth – generally.”

The "generally" at the end of the quote indicates to me that Brad does not guarantee a fighting response in the very next game. It may just be that the new-look Cavaliers under the guidance of Lebron James overachieved yesterday. Just don't take it to the bank. The Cleveland organization has surrounded James with young, talented players eager to please The King. They had better do so, or they (or he) will be gone.

As he did with the 2001-02 Celtics team, Danny Ainge regarded the recent top-of-the-East record as over-achievement, indicating changes needed to be made. Greg Monroe was recently acquired and the next few weeks will reveal the wisdom of that move. The buyout market is still open until March 1st. Danny won't go for an offense-only guy.

The Boston crowd was yelling for Paul Pierce yesterday, and for good reason. Look at the short video above. Al Harrington pushed another would-be Pierce defender out of the way, basically saying "I got him. Get out of here". But Al didn't have The Truth. He was playing Pierce more for the drive and that gave Paul just enough room to get off a successful jumper. I was personally picturing Paul out there battling Lebron and fighting to get to the hoop, or instead, choosing to sink one from long-range. The Captain was versatile and totally unpredictable. Even if defenders guessed what he would do, they usually could not stop him. Parquet lessons from the past. They would still work today.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Photo via Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
Photo via bObbym

Tom Lane 2/12/2018 06:14:00 AM Edit
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