Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Thoughts on Celtics' upset of Warriors, Marcus Smart's future, playoff opponents and NBA awards predictions

I recently participated in a Celtics roundtable discussion for CLNS Radio, a site I used to write for.  Here are the questions and my responses:

1. Did Friday’s win against Golden State change your opinion of the Celtics?

Honestly, no. This may sound hard to believe, but I actually though the C's had a decent chance to win that one. Their guards match up perfectly with the Warriors and Boston knew it could hang following the double-OT game in December. I do think the confidence the Celtics gained from the victory will be huge down the stretch and in the playoff though.

2. Out of the three likeliest first round opponents (Heat, Hawks, and Hornets), which team poses the biggest threat to the Celtics’ chances?

The Hawks are the team that scares me the most. With the exception of two eight-point losses in Toronto and a pair of OT defeats at the hands of Golden State and Cleveland, Atlanta is 14-1 since late February (before Tuesday's action) against the rest of the league. Having said that, I'll take home court advantage first and the right opponent second. There's a reason all four teams have basically the same record.

3. What are your thoughts on Marcus Smart moving forward? Is he someone the team can build around?

I don't think Marcus is a guy you can successfully build around--he's never going to be an elite scorer. However, he's definitely someone you can build with. I'm not worried about his shooting. He's working hard on it and he just turned 22 years old, it'll come. Whether or not he's a point guard, I'm not so sure. His game is more suited for being a small forward, which he might be able to pull off the way the league is trending.

4. Provide a few end of the year award winners…

Curry. There's no reasonable alternative. Isaiah should get a couple votes though.

Rookie of the Year?
It's Karl-Anthony Towns, but Devin Booker has made a nice run down the stretch.
Defensive Player of the Year?
Hassan Whiteside. He's averaging 3.7 blocks per game, nearly 1.5 more than anybody else.

Sixth Man of the Year?
Enes Kanter. 12.4 points and 7.9 rebounds in a very efficient 20.6 minutes per game off the bench for OKC. He's also 10th in the league in PER.

Most Improved Player?
Jae Crowder might have a shot if his scoring average was a little higher, but CJ McCollum has it locked up. He's posting nearly 14 more points per game than he did last year.

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