Currently riding a hot streak without Marcus Smart and Gordon Hayward in the lineup, the Celtics have managed to scourge together a respectable three-game win streak due in large part to the hot hands of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown scoring 165 points between them. The Jays have raised to the occasion in the Celtics time of need and as the team departs for their Christmas Day game versus the Toronto Raptors, they will do it without center Enes Kanter. A decent rebounder, a liability almost everywhere else.
On the bright side, Smart and Hayward are strong possible return candidates for Wednesday. Smart nursing an eye infection, Hayward hobbled by a foot.
The only center the Celtics will have ready to go is Daniel Theis. Their options are to let the undersized rookie Grant Williams play large stretches and have him go through the learning curves in what’s sure to be a loss. Or they play extremely small for the majority of the game.
Williams is very promising. He has an extraordinary basketball I.Q and is generally aware of what his role is and how to accomplish it. It is a foregone conclusion the experienced bigs of Toronto will cause the 6-7 Williams problems, but it’ll give him tons of needed experience.
On the flip side, the Celtics could roll out a lineup where Hayward is their de facto center at 6-9 he’d be the tallest in a five-some with Kemba, Smart, Brown and Tatum. Obviously this cedes the rebounding battle, but the Celtics gain the advantage of having five versatile shooters who can also drive to the rim. An underrated attribute The Jays have improved on in the summer is their passing. This potentially is the lineup Brad Stevens turns to close out playoff games. There’s no better time to trot it out than now.