Los Angeles Clippers (35-17) @ Boston Celtics (31-23)
4:300 p.m. PST
February 10, 2016
Fox Prime Ticket
1. Who’s the unsung hero of this Boston Celtics team?
Michael Pina (@MichaelVPina): It’s hard to say, since everyone is so important in their own special way. But the guy who gets the least amount of credit for helping keep things together is probably Evan Turner. He makes tough shots, creates for others, defends multiple positions and is the best quote in the NBA.
Ben Mesirow (@SemNeb): This question hits on one of the interesting things about these Celtics – they don’t really have one single unsung hero. Almost everyone outside of Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder is flying under the radar, and everyone – especially those two – has played an important part in their success. Evan Turner has been a Swiss army knife off the bench and Avery Bradley has been great, and their big men have done a good job too. He gets a lot of praise already, but maybe the answer, then, is Danny Ainge – the Celtics are a smorgasbord of valuable assets, and Ainge has done well to put them together. Now they just need to turn a few of them into a star worth singing about.
Law Murray (@LawMurrayTheNU): It must be Jae Crowder! The greatest strength of Boston’s defense is their ability to force turnovers, something ClipperBloggers have seen me write about all season. Well, Crowder leads the team in steals, averaging a career-high 1.8 per game. Crowder’s previous career-high for steals per game. He’s already played more minutes this season than all of last season. He’s a fine fit as a 3-and-D SF for the Celtics.
2. Who’s more likely to make a move — big or small — at the deadline: Los Angeles or Boston?
Pina: Boston has to do something. As it stands, they have too many draft picks, and with the East semi-wide open, moving a few for some shooting and solid two-way wing play will definitely improve their chances in the postseason. The Clippers should wait until the season’s over before they make a meaningful move.
Mesirow: I have to go with Boston. The team has too many good players and draft picks to stand still for long – they actually can’t play all of the talented guys they have, and things will only get more cluttered if they hang on to all of those picks. They’re treading water in the middle now, but they have the right assets to make a push for the next available star, or even a high-level complementary player. The Celtics’ only problem is that the rest of the league knows all about their heap of assets, so nothing will come cheap.
Murray: Boston is more likely to make a deal, because they have the means to do so. The Celtics are a good team, but they have been stagnant. All of those draft picks that Danny Ainge is hoarding would not be as valuable if he had to, you know, use them to actually draft players. Boston’s starting lineup hasn’t played all that well over the last month. And David Lee is just hanging out on the bench. Boston has made an in-season trade each of the last three seasons, so expect another one this month.
3. True or False: When it’s all said and done, Brad Stevens will be a more hallowed coach in the Garden than Doc Rivers.
Pina: True, but I’m assuming Boston wins at least one championship with Stevens before it’s all said and done. There are no guarantees, but he’s so young and so bright that it’s hard to envision a scenario where Danny Ainge doesn’t find him the top-20 talent he needs to eventually reach the top.
Mesirow: True. I get the sense that people in Boston have mixed feelings about Doc – he brought them a title and a great run with a beloved group of players, but in terms of public opinion he was on pretty shaky ground both before and after that run, including the complicated way things ended. Stevens, on the other hand, has been nothing but loved – he’s the young coach of a young team, he’s pretty incredibly likable and he gets to grow with that team and in that city. The Celtics are well positioned to make a run in the near future, but even if Stevens doesn’t win a championship he still has an easy path to long-term adulation in Boston.
Murray: True. Stevens is already in that spot. He doesn’t even need to win a championship like Doc Rivers did. As long as people are influenced by sports demagogues, Stevens will retain a higher opinion in New England than a coach who won more games than any Celtics head coach (including playoffs) not named Red Auerbach.