A two-game losing streak hardly qualifies as panic time for the Boston Celtics but it does equate to about as much turbulence as the team has encountered early in the 2020-21 season.
There are reasons to be optimistic as Kemba Walker’s minute restriction loosens and Jayson Tatum prepares to return after a bout with COVID-19. Getting to see this team at closer to full health could cure a lot of what has ailed individual players.
But as the Celtics prepare for a second joust with Joel Embiid and the Sixers, here are three players that can also help Boston by elevating their play moving forward:
Not only is Thompson learning a new playbook and getting familiarized with new teammates but he’s doing so in a season that had virtually no training camp and limited practice time. What’s more, the Celtics might have complicated matters with a penchant for clunky two-big lineups out of the gates.
Regardless, the Celtics splurged to acquire Thompson this offseason with hopes of adding a veteran backline defender who could control the glass and make things difficult on the East’s best bigs. The NBA’s defensive tracking data has Thompson’s opponents shooting 57.5 percent this season — or a whopping 10.7 percent higher than their expected field goal percentage. Among the 77 big men defending at least 5 shots per game, Thompson ranks 75th in field goal differential percentage.
Thompson’s defensive struggles are in the spotlight a bit…