The Boston Celtics’ problems closing a game have been well documented.
On Sunday, the Celtics put together one of their most embarrassing late-game performances of the season: A 24-point lead midway through the third quarter completely evaporated as the Pelicans returned and sent the game into overtime, before defeating the Celtics 120-115.
The Celtics’ plethora of problems require a plethora of solutions. One idea Brad Stevens said he will consider is playing rookie wing Aaron Nesmith in the final lineup.
“Aaron’s energy makes a huge difference and I think he really helped us,” Stevens said. “I think we have to get to the point where I can be in a final lineup, potentially, until we’re complete, just because it gives us more space, more ability to spread the court, more ability to play when teams really attack our opponents. better players, to play in that space and have open eyes “.
After the Celtics’ lineup of two greats fell on their faces Sunday night, Nesmith’s logic makes some sense. In college, he was a motion shooter who scored by flying around screens and squaring his body against the rim at lightning speed. In the NBA, his role has been a little different, less like JJ Redick shooting hard 3s and more like Danny Green spotting and drifting around the 3-point line as the offense unfolds.
“It’s always an adjustment,” Nesmith said last week. “Shooting is what I do, but I did a lot of shots from the play. I’m really not doing that much of that. So I just try to adapt to the role change and still have to take down the wide shot. “
On Sunday, Nesmith finished 3 of 4 and made one of his two 3-point attempts. In his last 10 games, Nesmith has hit 40.7 percent of his 3s after struggling early, and the Celtics are beginning to see some progress from a rookie they drafted in hopes of contributing this year.
Nesmith, who played just 13 games in his sophomore year at Vanderbilt, is also adjusting to the NBA schedule. Most seasons, rookies are forced to adjust to 82 games (at least). This year, Nesmith has fewer regular-season games, but they’re coming at a breakneck pace.
“This is the most games we’ve played in a season, so playing that many games in a row and making sure you’re prepared for each one is a difficult thing to do,” he said. “But as long as you stay consistent in your work, consistent in the things that you are supposed to do every day, that will help you get past and avoid hitting that wall of rookies, as they say.”
Stevens has appreciated Nesmith’s dedication to consistency, as well as her hustle and bustle. Apparently in every game Nesmith hits the platform chasing a loose ball or crashes into the hoop trying to chase a transitional opponent.
All of those moments have led to recent opportunities for Nesmith.
“We knew he had good energy, he’s a person of great character, he plays the game with integrity,” Stevens said. “He hurries, works, runs, stays on plays, we’ve seen him block a couple of shots, crashes into corners to rebound. He does all those little things. And I think the most important, the biggest challenge, and then you have to let that play out, is just adjusting to the speed of the game on offense. And he has done better as the last few weeks have passed.
“Obviously we play young from the bench and I think he has done a good job over the last two weeks. There is a lot to build there. “
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