If Celtics meet Warriors in the Finals, who handles DeMarcus Cousins?
While most of us are thinking about the next game, don't think Danny Ainge is not at least pondering this fact - the Warriors were potent as hell already, and now they have DeMarcus Cousins in the mix. Even a hampered Boogie (Achilles) can be a monster on the court. Who on the Celtics can contain him?
Al Horford? I think not. Aron Baynes? Most likely, but Aron does lack the offensive firepower on the other end. How about Daniel Theis? No, both he and Al have trouble guarding big, strong centers. And Cousins is all of that - 6'11" and 270 pounds. Before his Achilles injury, he was averaging 25 points, 13 boards, five assists, 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks per game for the Pelicans. He was shooting 47% from the field and 38% from behind the arc. He has the size, length, strength and talent to be a nightmare-cover.
In his debut with Golden State last night, he played only 15 minutes before fouling out but made great use of the limited floor time. He scored 14 points on 5-of-11 from the field and 3-of-4 on threes, while adding six rebounds and three assists. Boogie's presence in the Warrior's lineup fills the one void in their structure - a big, bruising center who can do everything.
All five starters for Golden State were All-Stars last year. That is scary. Many NBA teams were trying to copy the Warrior's small-ball strategy with their Death Lineup - and then what do they do? They change it by picking up a super-talented big to fill the center spot. If the Warrior's starting five remains intact and healthy, they will be a handful for any opposing team.
Aron Baynes may be the only Celtic on the roster able to handle Cousins, so Danny Ainge may at least think of a second big that can slow DeMarcus down and produce on the offensive end. A trade for Orlando's Nikola Vucevic while sending over Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier and Guerschon Yabusele, with Boston possibly adding a late first-round pick, works on ESPN's NBA Trade Machine. The adage, Don't follow the Joneses unless you know where they are going, is at play here. Well, we now know where the Warriors went with their lineup, and Ainge may choose to counter. He may have to.
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