I'll be honest. I had no idea Avery Bradley was so important to this Celtics team. However, these last couple games against the Pistons and the Bulls have really highlighted his importance. The glaring need wasn't as glaring in Detroit as the Celtics came out hot scoring 33 points in the first quarter. Most notably, Kelly Olynyk started off by scoring 8 points in the first quarter, but only finished the game with 10.
That is a problem, but ultimately not a big one, considering Olynyk has been on fire as of late. The bigger problem is the fact that we took Andre Drummond, unarguably the Pistons best player, out of the game and still managed to blow a lead. That is the Celtics big problem right now, blowing leads.
You could say the absence of Avery Bradley is a big part of that. The offense is just not nearly as fluid when you have Evan Turner in for Avery Bradley. Turner is simply a horrible shooter, which is a drastic change to the offense as a whole.
Which brings us to the Celtics' biggest problem; blowing leads. The Celtics were up 75-66 at the end of the third quarter and started the fourth immediately blowing that lead. Three minutes in they were only up 2 and Brad Stevens had to call a timeout. To start the fourth the Celtics had Jared Sullinger, Jonas Jerebko, Jae Crowder, James Young and Marcus Smart on the floor against the Pistons' starting 5. That is simply not going to get it done. When we get Avery back we need to get Jonas out of the rotation and start running Crowder at 4 way more often.
As fellow blogger Ian Riaf recently said, Jae is a lot like Draymond Green. He does not play the same way as Draymond, but the two have very similar builds. Jae is a very capable rebounder and, at times, yesterday handled Pau Gasol in the post against the Bulls. Hopefully that was a sign of things to come and Stevens starts trusting Jae against bigger players. The Celtics "death lineup" would look something like Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, and Isaiah Thomas.
I am not going to talk much about the Bulls game because it was truly one of the worst games of the season for Isaiah Thomas. When you are missing your best shooter in Bradley and Thomas throws up a dud, you have no chance.
The Celtics start a stretch of tough games on Sunday @ Memphis, @ New York and then home against Indiana. Hopefully Bradley is back and we can get this ship turned in the right direction. Look out for another article soon highlighting some trades Danny Ainge might be looking to swing before the Trade Deadline.
By Jack Journeay