I think we can say we are officially back. For now. Time for one of our favorite past-times: Friday Fives. Here’s how this worked. I, Maneikis, posed 5 questions to our panel (Me, Will Weir aka “The Fedora’d One” and Taylor “I now prefer TJ” Simpson), and what you will read is our email exchange regarding each of these key questions heading into the critical Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Fun drinking game alert: every time we refer to Lebron by a name other than Lebron or anytime you feel we are being complete homers, you drink. Prepare to get dnruk.
- How do we stop Tristan Thompson?
Will: Tristan has been bashing us over the head with a mallet like a kid playing Whack-A-Mole in an arcade for about 2 or 3 years now. Feels like every game he gets about 20 rebounds vs. us and we are just powerless. Having said that, they need to try something. Rebounding has been a sore spot for C’s all year, not a secret. Amir Johnson? Child Please. Tyler Zeller? I’ll pass. Traditional big men are out. Unfortunately, we can’t have Al guard both him and Kevin Love, so I think the answer has to fall to primarily Marcus Smart and maybe even a dash of Jae Crowder. At this point, the best hope is that these 2 can be bulldogs and, at best, slow him down. Marcus seems like he’ll get 1st billing, Jae doesn’t have the speed to stay with LBJ (Step up on up Jaylen!), but maybe he has the strength to battle with Tristan like he did with Morris last round.
Maneikis: Will, I totally agree per our conversation last night. Marcus can bang with the big guys as long as it’s purely physical play. The moment you add skill to the mix, Marcus tends to struggle, but he relishes the wrestling matches. I’d also like to see us try to exploit him on the defensive end by going small and giving Marcus an opportunity to run PnR with Horford. That might force the Cavs into some unnatural defensive rotations (have Thompson and Love ever had to defend a PnR together?), and we might even get some of their bigs in foul trouble. I don’t see us stopping Thompson from getting rebounds, but I do expect us to make him work for those rebounds and to make him uncomfortable on the defensive end of the floor.
TJ: Tristan is a player who has the specific skill set that exploits the biggest weakness on the Celtics’ roster – offensive rebounding. It would be like if in The Illiad the Trojans hired a mercenary to a $60 million dollar contract whose lone skill was throwing arrows at soldiers’ heels. In the first round against the Bulls the Celtics made Robin Lopez look like Wilt Chamberlain, so an honest goal would just not to end up like any of Wilt’s famed 20,000 women – you know, completely fucked. However as many basketball coaches have repeated to me throughout the years, there is no secret to boxing out; it just takes placement, intention and a whole lot of effort. Dedicate a spot on the floor to one of the Lunks (Kelly, Zeller, Amir) who sole purpose is to stay between the basket and Tristan Thompson. Barring a sudden fix for what has been a glaring flaw all year, sign his step-sister Kendall to a 10-day. She fixed institutionalized racism with a mere soft drink, so I’m sure she can grab a few rebounds.