Un article de la semaine derniĂ¨re qui parle de mettre Brown titulaire, Ă la place de Bradley. J'ai militĂ© pendant un moment pour mettre Bradley en sortie de banc, voilĂ des arguments qui apportent de l'eau au moulin :http://www.celticshub.com/2017/04/14/ca ... -playoffs/
The Celtics finished the season on a mixed note, handling Milwaukee convincingly, albeit against a line-up of reserves. Boston locked up the top seed and will play the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs on Sunday. And while most teams would like to have their playoff rotation set going into the first round, there are a lot of tweaks that Brad Stevens has been making down the stretch of the season trying to find the right group for the playoffs, and aside from Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk and Jaylen Brown, itâ€™s been a mix-and-match approach to the rotation.
Similarly, the results have been mixed: The Celtics have won three games in a row, but lost three of their last four to playoff teams. Stevens has consistently been playing up to 12 players, yet one option that he hasnâ€™t returned to yetâ€“and given the injuries this season a kind of obvious oneâ€“is moving Avery Bradley over to the bench and slotting Brown into the starting lineup. Basketball is a game of chemistry and continuity, and while PER and effective field goal percentage are valuable statistics, equally important is how players play off each other, who emphasizes a teammateâ€™s strengths and covers his weaknesses. So when creating different lineups, fit is just as important as overall skill. Which is why sliding Brown into the starting line-up instead of Bradley would bring out the best in this team, as well as both players individually.
First, letâ€™s get this out of the way: Iâ€™m not undervaluing Bradley. Heâ€™s been cast as a defensive specialist, but the guy is averaging almost 17 points per game and is shooting over 40% from three. Heâ€™s a 6â€™2â€ť shooting guard averaging over 6 rebounds per game! And just watch him on offense: flying off screens to get open behind the arc, slipping behind defenders on back-door cuts for easy lay ins. The guyâ€™s made his mark in the league as an elite lock-down defender, but heâ€™s a premier two-way player and someone who can be an integral part of a championship team.
So why the switch?
Letâ€™s look at the facts: The Celtics did well without Bradley, going 16-7 while he was out of the line-up (this including the one game in the middle of that stretch against Charlotte where he played). The Celtics are 10-6 since Bradleyâ€™s return. Iâ€™m not looking too much into the comparisons of winning percentagesâ€“and Iâ€™m certainly not saying they are better without Bradleyâ€“but rather that Boston has been successful whether heâ€™s in or out of the line-up. So the question is how can they maximize both his and Brownâ€™s impacts? And thatâ€™s where we can see the real advantages of switching these players.
Jaylen Brown has been more successful as a starter than coming off the benchâ€“which isnâ€™t too surprising if you think about it. Off the bench, heâ€™s one of the most explosive players the Celtics have; and while he doesnâ€™t have the defensive prowess and tenacity of Smart, nor the offensive skill of Olynyk, heâ€™s an improving shooter and scary on the fast break. Teams have to game plan for his sheer athleticism.
When there are worse players around him, itâ€™s easier to focus on shutting down Brown. But when heâ€™s starting, he is clearly the fourth option behind Thomas, Al Horford and Jae Crowder. Teams arenâ€™t too worried about him. Itâ€™s no wonder his three-point shooting percentage is 30% coming off the bench and 37.8% as a starter; heâ€™s getting open shots created by Thomas cutting to the basket or Horford finding him with his sharp passing. Playing along the starters allows him to focus on his strengths without having to do too much with the ball.
And on the defensive end, he can hold his own playing against 2â€™s. As an on-ball defender, his length allows him to compensate for his lack of experience and ability. He wonâ€™t lock a guy down like Bradley will, but he has a significant size advantage. And while they do lose some of the air-tight defense of Bradley, they gain defensive flexibility with more ability to switch coverages with all that length on the perimeter.
Itâ€™s not that I think the starters will be better with Brown in the line-up over Bradley; itâ€™s that they wonâ€™t be worse. With such talented players around him, Brown will be able to maximize his offensive ability while not giving up too much on the defensive end. But itâ€™s the second unit where the advantage really comes into play.
How often do we look at one-dimensional big men in the leagueâ€“the Jahlil Okafors, Greg Monroes, Al Jeffersonsâ€“and say they are more valuable coming off the bench because they can beat up on second units? These one-dimensional players are able to hide their weaknesses against lesser competition and focus on their strengths.
So why not take the same approach with a much more versatile player: Avery Bradley? If Brown were to start, the first three off the bench would be, in some order, Smart, Bradley, and Olynyk. Smart has demonstrated his inability to shootâ€“as well as his inability to realize he cannot shoot. On the season heâ€™s shooting 35.9% from the field and 27.7% from three. But itâ€™s getting worse: over the last ten games, 29.2% from the field, 27.8% from three. And the guy takes almost 10 shots per game! Smart tries to do too much because often he has to. As he is the main offensive creator off the bench.
Pairing him with Bradley off the bench would give him a reliable scorer to work with. Bradley could space the floor as a real three-point threat alongside Olynyk, giving Smart more lanes to drive to the basket and draw fouls. Smart is no longer a liability from the free throw line, shooting over 80%, 88% in the last ten games. Also, Bradleyâ€™s offensive intelligence would have unknowable benefits: How much of a difference would it make to have Bradley playing alongside Smart, reading defensives, making the right cuts, the right curls around screens. Where Jaylen Brown is inexperienced and makes rookie mistakes, Bradley is one of the smartest players out there and could cut apart the second unit defenses. Bradley can create his own shot as well, and take some pressure off Smart and Olynyk. Bradleyâ€™s a more versatile player than Brown and would do more to make the players around him, especially Olynyk and Smart, better than Brown could.
And then letâ€™s, for a moment, try to figure out how other teamâ€™s benches would score. Smart and Bradley are two of the best perimeter defenders in the league, and can lock down the best guards in the league. What if theyâ€™re going against the back-ups; how many points could these two create off steals and forced turnovers?
Letâ€™s be honest: crunch time, I still want Bradley on the court. Whether Bradleyâ€™s moved to the bench or not, heâ€™ll still get plenty of minutes alongside Smart to hound other teamâ€™s guards, so the end of games would look similar. But games are often won or lost in the first three quarters, and if the Celtics can position themselves to get more out of Jaylen Brown, as well as their entire bench unit, in the playoffs, it could alleviate the pressure down the stretch of games and get them a little closer to a championship.
Et puisque Stevens envisage des changements...