The potential role of Celtics' two-way players in the NBA's reboot

A. Sherrod Blakely
NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics are clinging to a one-point lead in the closing seconds of Game 7.

They desperately need a defensive stop to move on to the next round, and they get it from ... Tacko Fall?

Two-way players like Tacko Fall aren't normally allowed to be on playoff rosters unless their contracts are modified. 

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But in what has been an unprecedented season because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the league has to take into consideration all its options - including the use of two-way players in the postseason - leading up to the league's expected reset. 

Like most matters as they relate to resuming NBA games after the season was suspended March 12, there are several hoops and hurdles the league and the players union must work through in order for two-way players to be granted an opportunity to potentially be available for the playoffs. 

There's little doubt that if they are allowed to participate, their services will be needed.

With 22 teams sequestered on the Disney World campus in Orlando, Fla., it is inevitable that some players will test positive for the Coronavirus. 

That player will be quarantined immediately and kept away from the rest of his teammates for a period of time which would obviously deplete his team's roster. 

The league also has to take into account players who will choose not to play in the bubble for an assortment of reasons such as health concerns or their desire to continue the nationwide discussion surrounding social injustice and police brutality without having to play games. 

Those two factors will to some extent deplete a team's 15-man roster which raises the prospect of how teams can best replenish that void.

So in terms of filling roster spots, coming to an agreement on how to make two-way players available for the playoffs is among the long laundry list of issues the league is trying to sort out. 

One of the main reasons serious consideration has to be given to two-way players is their familiarity with the parent team with G-League teams and their NBA big brother often running similar sets and actions. 

That allows for a relatively smooth transition for two-way players when they are called up, and in this instance, help fill a roster void and not have to play as much catch-up as someone outside the organization. 

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And when you look at the Celtics' two-way players - Fall and Tremont Waters - both players have shown flashes of being solid NBA contributors. 

The 7-foot-5 Fall's progress from the time he signed an Exhibit 10 contract with Boston that was then upgraded to a two-way deal is undeniable. 

A fan favorite, Fall has proven himself to be more than just a human victory cigar when he steps on the floor. And with no fans in attendance at the games in Orlando, Tacko would indeed be used exclusively for what he brings to the floor as a player. 

And then there's Waters, who has spent the bulk of his rookie season with the Maine Red Claws while establishing himself as one of the best players in the G League. 

"You watch him play, all he needs is more opportunities to play," an Eastern Conference executive told NBC Sports Boston. "He's one of those guys that's on the small side but on any given night, can come off the bench and win a game for you." 

However, one of the main concerns about adding any players beyond those currently on each team's active roster is the increased risk of having the coronavirus spread. By adding two-way players to the mix, that means another 44 players will be in the "Orlando Bubble" and that doesn't take into account their close families. 

But for a team like the Celtics, an opportunity to add their two-way players to the mix could be a potential game-changer depending on the matchup. 

If the playoffs were today, Boston would open up against the Philadelphia 76ers

A well-rested Joel Embiid, regardless of what he has done or not done conditioning-wise, is going to be a load for the Celtics to contend with in a best-of-seven series. 

While no one would expect Tacko to shut Embiid down or limit him, Tacko's presence just might have an impact on those around Embiid who may look to shoot from the perimeter more instead of trying to attack the rim and score over Tacko. 

And Waters, the SEC's Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at LSU, has shown the ability to make an impact at both ends of the floor. 

The 5-10 guard appeared in 10 games with the Celtics, averaging 3.3 points, 1.2 assists and 0.9 rebounds per game. With the Red Claws, he averaged 18 points, 7.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game along with 1.9 steals. 

Two-way players' greatest impact has been on their respective G League teams. 

But in these unprecedented times we live in, it should not come as a surprise to anyone if two-way players became an X-factor for teams with their sights set on a deep playoff run. 

The potential role of Celtics' two-way players in the NBA's reboot originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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