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No Baby For Two Months: What Does It Mean?

babybuzzerbeaterWhat it shouldn’t and probably can’t mean: That Kevin Garnett plays any more than 30-32 minutes per game. 

What it obviously will mean: More playing team for Brian Scalabrine and likely Shelden Williams. One of those players lack’s Big Baby’s size, strength and rebounding ability; the other can board but has struggled offensively, both inside and on jumpers. Neither is a perfect solution as a 20-minute-per-game back-up four.

But let’s talk a little more in-depth about what Baby’s absence could mean for the C’s rotation. Some ideas/questions:

• Does this kill the possibility—however small it may have been—of Doc using a five-man Bench Mob line-up? 

We’ve already discussed that the C’s most common back-up units last season consisted of either Pierce or Ray Allen and four bench players. Bearing that responsibility adds up to a few minutes per game for Pierce and Allen, and a few minutes per game adds up to a few games per season, and that matters more and more as the stars age. 

One way to combat that: The five-man bench. That option may be dead for now without Big Baby.

• A massive hole in the middle—on offense

Davis isn’t a traditional post-up player, but he was going to shoulder a decent chunk of the interior scoring load (along with Marquis Daniels) on the second unit. Davis sets great screens and can either pop out for a jumper or roll to the hoop on screen/rolls. I bet the plan was to have him do more of the latter this season than last. If Sheed‘s primary offensive role is to stretch the floor, that would leave Davis as the roll man on a lot of screen/rolls designed to give Daniels the triple-option of driving, hitting a rolling Baby or dishing to an open Sheed should Sheed’s man drift to help in the lane.

And Davis is good at being the roll man. He’s agile and has a knack for shoving his body through open spaces and getting enough room to shoot the ball or draw a foul in the process.

Unless Sheed is ready to assume that role, the C’s don’t really have anyone who can play it in Baby’s place.  When  Sheed does feel like playing down low, he is more of a straight-up back to the basket post player than a screen/roll guy. Shelden Williams sets solid screens but has trouble finishing or even getting decent looks on the move. Scal is obviously not this kind of player; if he gets the primary back-up power forward minutes, the C’s second unit will really lack an interior presence offensively. If the perimeter shots don’t fall, how will they score?

One other thing to consider: Davis is—by far—the best offensive rebounder among the guys we had expected to get a lot of run off the bench. The Celtics either have to play Williams (a very good rebounder) or accept the reality that they will get few second-chance points without Davis.

• Does Scal play the four? 

Doc’s pre-season rotation suggested he trusts Brian Scalabrine much more than Shelden Williams right now, but the pre-season rotation also suggested Doc was prepping Scal for a role guarding small forwards (and, in crazier scenarios, shooting guards). Now Scal may suddenly have to switch gears and prepare to guard power forwards again.

Can Shelden really hit a jump shot? 

Doc has talked during the pre-season about Williams’ skill as a pick-and-pop option in the mold of Big Baby, but the numbers simply don’t back that talk up—yet. Williams has never hit more than 34.6 percent of his jumpers and yet he still takes a lot of them; nearly half his career field-goal attempts are Js, according to this prior post that culled a lot of data from 82games.

So the trade-off you get for playing Williams heavy minutes is this: An interior presence without much offensive ability. 

Or—will we see Scal and Williams play together? 

How about this line-up: Daniels-House-Scal-Williams-Sheed. Certainly not a group we planned on seeing much. Does it pressed into service now? 

These are just some quick thoughts. I’d love to hear your ideas and predictions for how the coaching staff will adjust to the sudden absence of Big Baby. Not a good way to start the season. But it starts anyway. 

• Does J.R. Giddens factor into this at all?

As Jeff at CB mentioned: My head is spinning. Oh, and the C’s play at Cleveland in about 20 hours. Yowza.

  • Paul

    The season starts tonight and the Celtics are already talking about KG's wear and tear on the league. If the C's are going to limit minutes on the big three then that means Daniels and Sheed must play well.

    Boston will win the division but home field is going to matter the most along with the health of the big three.

    Has Boston considered bringing Allen off the bench and starting Sheed.

    This helps House because he has two other ball handlers as the second unit. I still think they are going to have to trade for one person. The loss of Powe hurt them in the post because they lack the toughness they had two years ago.

  • http://www.lostrivermodern.com Chris Brown

    Any word whether they bring Sweetney back in to fill some of those minutes?

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  • http://www.celticshub.com Zach Lowe

    @chris brown: the c’s would still need to waive someone/buy them out in order to sign Sweetney.

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  • Larrycan

    Zach, Thanks for a great article. I have been surfing sites for fulfilling news and insight for the C's for a very long time. Love your style and relevent info that doesn't rehash some preprogrammed personal agenda. Please write more every day but try to limit yourself to 30-35 minutes per game so you have something left in your tank at the end of the season. Go C's!

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