The latest Celtics news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Celtics newsletter here!
In light of witnessing the Milwaukee Bucks capture their first championship in 50 years, MassLive’s Brian Robb — who rather than dissecting how Tatum and Brown can evolve into the next Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton tandem — explained the impetus that ultimately sealed the Bucks’ fate as the 2021 NBA Finals champion. It’s something Robb is hoping the Celtics can learn from.
Sure, Antetokounmpo averaging 35.2 points while shooting at a 61.8% clip, per Basketball-Reference.com, is one of the biggest reasons Milwaukee topped the Phoenix Suns after surrendering a 2-0 lead in their best-of-7 series. Giannis’ 13.2 rebounds, 5 assists, 1.8 blocks, and 1.2 steals per game through six games were other huge reasons along with Middleton’s scoring contribution.
Evaluating The 2021-22 Celtics in Preparation for 2022
However, in the end, Jrue Holiday’s two-way skillset and late-game execution offered an edge that Phoneix wasn’t prepared for. Unsung heroes such as Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton, and P.J. Tucker were vital for the Bucks to win three a row and close the door on the Suns’ championship aspirations.
“They got something from everyone during their postseason run in big games,” Robb said, per CLNS Media’s Celtics Beat. “We can make fun of Jeff Teague all we want to but he had a big Game 6 against the Hawks when Giannis was out. He scored like 13 points that game. Yeah, that was probably his one good game all postseason but the Celtics just don’t have those guys at the end of the roster or haven’t developed them, yet.”
Brian Robb: 2021-22 Celtics Have ‘Questions That Are Going to Have to be Answered’
It’s the best way to gauge which players can blossom around the Celtics’ star tandem — which will be Udoka’s main objective, this upcoming season.
“Can Payton Pritchard be a playoff performer? Can Aaron Nesmith be a playoff performer? Can Romeo Langford be a playoff performer? These are questions that are going to have to be answered next year,” Robb added. “We saw glimpses of that this past postseason but they weren’t in roles that you’d expect them to be in on a good team. They were having to do far too much. Boston probably had the worst bench of any team in the postseason last year, given all of the injuries they had.”
Why Next Season is About Celtics’ Ime Udoka ‘Figuring it Out’
A new head coach means a brand new voice, culture, and way of doing things — which is something the Celtics haven’t seen in eight years. But, a change was necessary and as Udoka settles into his first head coaching position, he’ll, in the end, be the one who can carve out which pieces complement his stars best and go on from there.
“This next season is going to be about figuring it out, for Udoka,” Robb said. “Who can we trust on this team? Which one of these guys is going to take the next step forward who fits around Brown and Tatum? And not just the young guys but Smart, Fournier, Rob Williams, Thompson — all of those guys aren’t going to be around past next season. So, you gotta figure out who you like among that group.
“Figure it out around the fringes. The problem is: the margin for error is very small right now.”