Swarming Ben Simmons in the paint
The defense on Ben Simmons was the top priority heading into the series. He killed Miami against any defensive opponent or style. But against Boston, the train came to a crashing halt.
Simmons was not awful against Boston, but he looked like a rookie in the playoffs. 1 point in Game 2, a missed dunk in Game 3, simple mistakes that will go away over time. Yet, the Celtics defense still deserves a ton of credit.
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When Simmons drove in the paint, someone was there to double or triple team. Usually it was Horford, who could inch off Embiid to help while still manning the passing lanes. Marcus Smart was incredible in the post when Philly tried to take a size advantage, and Tatum and Brown held their own on the ball.
With Simmons in check, Redick in check, and Horford doing enough to limit Embiid’s impact, who was left? Dario Saric had a few moments, but nothing crazy. TJ McConnell had his one game, but that was quickly corrected in Game 5. Robert Covington looked miserable in 15 out of 20 quarters. Amir Johnson? Dare I even say Markelle Fultz?
Obviously, Brad Stevens is a genius. He is the best coach in the NBA. Whether instantly or eventually, he made all the right adjustments to move on in the playoffs. Now, he is reaping the rewards. Stevens performance in the playoffs this year has his name on the lips of every NBA media member. Everything I just mentioned all comes back to him.
Now, the Boston Celtics will face the Cavaliers, a less talented, but exponentially more experienced team. But there is no reason to be scared. Boston is ready, bring it on.