Celtics-Pacers II analysis: Time Lord, Fast PP shine; defense does not

Justin Quinn
·4 min read

Despite their 116 – 111 win over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night, the Boston Celtics are still very much a work in progress, and they learned some important things about the makeup and potential of the 2020-21 roster in another baby step in the direction of contention.

Plagued by poor communication, bad defense and disjointed play, most of what has ailed the Celtics is eminently fixable. But in a shortened, 72-game season there isn’t much of a runway for significant shifts in approach, so Boston is going to need to learn how to do the most they can with what they have in a hurry.

But what did we learn from the win?

No. 1: Payton Pritchard, floor general

Fast PP is ready for more responsibility, particularly in the pick and roll. The rookie point guard looked comfortable -- scratch that, confident -- directing Boston's offense against a much-better-than-expected Indiana squad. https://embed.sendtonews.com/oembed/?SC=773qV4YjLz-1089467-7498&autoplay=on&V=2&format=json Having the Oregon product on the floor running the offense frees up wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown from playmaking duties- And if we can see him continue to develop his big man relationships to the point it becomes even more effective than it was vs. the Pacers, we might have the makings of an unexpectedly effective plan to hang points on opponents.

No. 2: Double big lineups aren't that popular for a reason

There aren't a lot of teams playing two big men on the floor at a time in this day and age, but Boston has had to to deal with a lack players able to play the 4 at an elite level the starters need on the floor with them. And while it's provided more playing time for Robert Williams III, it's also made for some rough stretches as well. https://embed.sendtonews.com/oembed/?SC=shHV87iSfX-1089432-7498&autoplay=on&V=2&format=json The rationale behind the move makes sense on paper, but if the execution doesn't start producing better results, it maybe time to see if perhaps Time Lord or Grant Williams makes for a better option. Which brings us to the next point...

No. 3: Robert Williams deserves more run

For the second game in a row, Time Lord looked like he belonged in a major role on the Celtics, a + 10 off the bench with a perfect 4-of-4 field goal percentage for 8 points and 5 boards in just 11 minutes of play. There were certainly mistakes, like when Williams nearly knocked Victor Oladipo's soul out of his body on an especially energetic sequence from the Louisiana native. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdO_z7GTbyo Even so, they are fewer, less impactful and more than worth the price of admission for what he adds on offense. Could the answer be to rotate the two-big lineups based on matchups? We may well see tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies.

No. 4: The defense is a work in progress

While there have been stretches of varying length where Boston has put together some solid defensive rotations this season, in the aggregate a roster returning most of a top-five defense in 2019-20 has ranked among this season's worst. What gives? The funky lineups coach Brad Stevens deploys in his early-season mad scientist mode shoulders a decent chunk of the blame, but low effort and poor communication is in play as well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sdo0VfPGZnY And while there are new faces to get up to speed, it hasn't been the veteran signings of Tristan Thompson nor Jeff Teague causing most of the issues on that end of the ball -- and the same can be said for Pritchard for the most part. Whatever the root cause, it's an issue that needs perhaps more attention than any other for the Celtics success in January. [jwplayer CMqH3vUJ-z6KDnl0B] [lawrence-related id=44967,44965,44954,44944] [listicle id=44941]    

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