The Celtics need Kelly Olynyk tonight, they need him more than ever
Last night, the Celtics lost to the Indiana Pacers. It was a close game throughout, but the Celtics offense continually lulled. There was one possession where Marcus Smart drove to the hoop and literally ran into Amir Johnson. With the Pacers packing the paint and daring the Celts to shoot, the last thing Smart needed was a white and green jersey in between him and the hoop. Following the game, the Celtics all knew what the issue was.
Marcus Smart describing the spacing to reporters in Indiana: "We were just all on top of each other tonight."— Jay King (@ByJayKing) March 16, 2016
Jonas Jerebko (season-high 17 points): "With [Crowder and Olynyk] out, its going to put more work on me to space the floor for us."— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 16, 2016
Spacing. Hmm, if only the Celtics had a seven foot, long-haired gentleman who doubled as their most accurate three point shooter. Wait. They do. The problem is that Kelly Olynyk hasn't seen the floor since February 10th. When Deandre Jordan slammed Olynyk's shoulder and put the big man on the shelf, the Celtics knew that there would be a shooting void in the second unit. But with Jae Crowder joining him in the training room, the Celtics starting five now lacks the ability to stretch the floor as well. If last night is any indication, this is a major problem. From Jay King at masslive.com:
Two important stats
1. Since Olynyk's injury, sustaining offensive production without Thomas has been a major issue. The problem continued against the Pacers with even more vigor than usual. According to NBA.com, Boston scored 69.0 points per 100 possessions over the 13 minutes Thomas sat on the bench. At risk of being slightly dramatic, that's approximately the same offensive rating the lowly Philadelphia 76ers would notch if they prepped with four minutes on the dizzy bat and a trip to the neighborhood pub. The Pacers have an elite defense, but Boston's offense staggered, stumbled and stagnated for part of the night.
2. Over the 12 straight games Olynyk has missed, the Celtics are shooting 31.0 percent from behind the arc, a mark that would rank last in the NBA over the entire season.
The Celtics need open lanes for Thomas and Turner to get into the paint and make plays, and proper floor spacing allows them to do just that. With many of Crowder and Olynyk's minutes going to Terry Rozier and Tyler Zeller last night, it looked crowded out there. While Rozier gets the call because of his athleticism, teams don't yet respect his ability to knock down a three and sag off of him. And Zeller? Well, Zeller was positively dismal last night in Olynyk's absence.
Tyler Zeller’s net rating over 14 minutes in loss to Pacers: Minus-52.2.— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) March 16, 2016
Kelly Olynyk remains day-to-day.
Forsberg pointed out a few weeks ago that Olynyk had the best net rating on the Celtics in the 12 games leading up to his injury, plus 19.2 points per 100 possessions; his 112.9 offensive rating and 93.7 defensive rating were each the best on the team in that stretch. That's a pretty solid indication of Olynyk's impact on both ends of the floor.
Even if advanced stats aren't your thing, if you watched the Pacers jam the paint and the Celtics shoot 8-32 from deep last night, you know. The Celtics need Olynyk back, shooting threes and getting to the basket with up-fake induced rambles into the lane that somehow work this year. Flowing locks, man-bun, whatever. Just put our Canadian friend above the break and let the man rain some threes. If Kelly doesn't have the strength to defend in the post, Brad Stevens needs to trot out a zone against the Thunder's second unit and hide him on D. Olynyk doesn't really rebound anyway.
Whatever needs to be done, do it. Kelly has to be out there when the Celtics take on the Thunder tonight at 7PM.
Photo Credit Jim Davis/Boston Globe