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Noa Dalzell | Boston Celtics Insider, SB Nation

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The Truth Network Radio
May 24, 2024 5:55 am

Noa Dalzell | Boston Celtics Insider, SB Nation

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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May 24, 2024 5:55 am

SB Nation Celtics writer Noa Dalzell joins the show after Game 2 at the Garden to recap the win, and Jaylen Brown's huge night.


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Auto Trader. We're pleased to welcome Noah Dalzell who covers the Celtics for the SB Nation group of blogs. Celtics blog is where you can find her work. Let's talk about the differences between game one and game two, Noah, because game one required overtime and the Pacers, speaking of game, they were ready for anything that the Celtics threw at them. So what was the biggest difference in game two? The defensive intensity was a lot better tonight. There was a 20-0 run there. It was kind of a quiet 20-0 run. I almost didn't even notice it until we looked up and realized that the Pacers just hadn't scored for a large stretch of time. So I thought that made a huge difference and then Jalen Brown was just instrumental in this game. 25 points in the first half, 40 overall in the night.

Probably could have had more, but it kind of kept making the right path. I thought he had a huge part of this win and just making sure that this wasn't another crunch time win where they would need his heroic. He really put the game away for them. Instead of having the big three at the end of the game in the final few seconds of regulation, he just hit big shot after big shot. For a while there, it seemed like it could be a duel between he and Pascal Siakam. Yeah, if it wasn't for Siakam, this would have been a blowout because there was a point there where the Celtics were starting to run away with it.

And we've seen the Celtics team blow out so many teams this year that it's such a familiar feeling to be sitting in the garden and realize you're actually not going to watch a meaningful fourth quarter. And then Siakam just couldn't miss. I mean, he was 13 for 17 tonight. I thought the fact that the Celtics were able to kind of get past his performance with relative ease was a good sign, but for the Pacers, he was instrumental.

I mean, without him tonight, this would have been a completely different ball game. And then obviously Tyree Taliburton going down, that changed everything for them. And that's really the big question we are moving forward, but it certainly was a little bit of back and forth between Jalen and Siakam. And it was funny because he hit the first three pointer of the night and the crowd went wild. And it just felt like a continuation of the three pointer from the other night, like just kind of one clean motion, I guess. What did we find out about Taliburton after the game?

Not much. I saw from other reporters that he was kind of limping onto the team bus. So obviously that's not a great sign, but I mean, this is the same hamstring that he hurt against Boston earlier this year. And it really, really impacted him. And it's not just that he missed time for it, but also when he was back, he just wasn't the same player, hopefully for Indiana, hopefully just for basketball and for him, that he's able to come back. But I also wouldn't be shocked if he did end up missing some time, just based off the fact that this has been an injury that has really impacted him in the past. And hamstrings are just tough in general. Jason Tatum finally locked in there in the third quarter.

What did he have to say about his performance? Yeah. You know, I think Tatum has struggled from the three point line this entire postseason. They were around 30% for a while. They're even below that.

And that's continued. He was one for seven from three tonight. We didn't stand out the way that the guard play really stood out the jail and really stood out.

Even paid and Pritchard or shape or set both stood out. But he's been able to find ways to impact the game. Even when the three point shot is not falling, that's been such a hallmark of, of his, you know, his play this post-season and really the entire year, you know, even when he's not shooting well, he does everything else well. And so he's able to kind of make up for that. I think when he's, you know, if he's able to get out of his funk and start hitting threes at a high clip, we're going to be seeing him play at like an MVP level. That's just been where he's, where he's really struggled, but he finds a way to get involved. And next thing you know, you look up and he has 25 points, six assists, five rebounds.

Like you have these staff lines, even when it feels like he's really struggling. We're excited to spend a few minutes with Noah Dalzell, an NBA writer covering the Celtics for SB Nation, the Celtics blog. It's after hours with Amy Lawrence, lot less tension, but what was the atmosphere like inside the garden knowing how well the Pacers can shoot and how often they're able to pull themselves back into games? This is an awesome atmosphere.

I would say both of these games felt a lot more like playoff games than earlier in the year, earlier in this postseason. The one thing I will say, and I get it because I've been around Boston, I grew up in Boston, I've been here my whole life, is that there's an anxiety to the fan base and you feel it. That the Celtics are doing well, they're on a run, they're on a roll. This place is going wild.

It could not be louder. Then things go wrong for a couple of minutes and the place is like, here we go again, we're not going to win the championship. Like you could feel that anxiety in the building and I don't think other fan bases are like that because they haven't come so close to success so many years in a row. There's some teams, this is their first time in the conference finals for a long time now. Other teams, they're just happy to be here, I guess.

You do definitely feel that anxiety. I notice that every game in the playoffs where all of a sudden the Celtics are down by two or even they're still up by two and suddenly there's kind of this hush around the arena. I think that's part of why the Celtics haven't been spectacular at home because sometimes the crowd kind of gets into a funk when the Celtics get into a funk and it becomes this kind of revolving thing. So this is exacerbated by the last few years, not just the NBA finals loss to the Warriors but of course last year against the Heat.

Exactly, yeah. I think you know 2022, everybody, I mean game seven I was here before. I actually wasn't covering the team then but I was here with the most electric atmosphere you could possibly imagine.

12 minutes later it's like somber, right? And so I think sometimes the fan base needs to be a little more resilient to keep the team in it but obviously you know easy to say. I think people are anxious and want to see this team get over the hump. I would imagine in the finals there's going to be an even higher level of intensity and excitement just because that everybody's kind of like we need to get to the finals. The Eastern Conference is a cakewalk.

I don't think it's true but I think the fans feel this way a little bit that you know everything to get there is just kind of hurdles to overcome that are just kind of like going through the motions. Obviously the Celtics themselves cannot feel that way or else they won't get there but I think that's sometimes reflected in the crowd being a little bit more inconsistent. Jalen has obviously had some high profile failures, some high profile games in which the Celtics had opportunities, both he and Jason.

He wears them hard and when you look at the guy that we saw a year ago in the playoffs criticized so royally to the player he is today, how has he changed? I don't want to harp on the All-NBA thing because I think it's not the most important storyline right now but last year he was on the All-NBA team. This year he's not. He's absolutely playing the best basketball of his career right now so it's kind of remarkable that that wasn't reflected in those awards but we're seeing a guy who is most of the time picking up the opposing team's best player who's improved tremendously defensively and then offensively he's always been extremely talented.

That's never been a question. There's still points of weakness in his games like the free throws have been a little bit of a struggle but you're seeing him process the game at such a better and faster pace than he used to that he's pretty much always making the right play. I mean either he's pulling up for a mid-range which is right in his bread and butter and he's pretty unstoppable there or even tonight when he had it going there was a play in the third quarter that really struck me. He had two back-to-back midway jumpers probably could have got into that exact same spot three more times and instead he drove kicked it out to Derek White got him going and that's been a kind of a constant theme all year that not only is he getting points but he's not forcing things and I think that's not because he used to be selfish I think he just become a lot better at reading the game and we see and I noticed that every shoot around every practice since the last person on the court is working with six or seven assistant coaches and they're not just practicing like getting up your shots they're actually practicing him making reads in different offensive you know situations and Joe Mazzola brought that up today in the post game it was the first time that he actually commented on that phenomenon that we've been watching as reporters that Jalen goes out of his way to do that to improve his ability to make reads and I think that's why he's had so much success on the court offensively this year.

Noah Dalzell is with us from the Garden after the Celtics close out the Pacers after hours with Amy Lawrence. So Noah when the Celtics run into an opponent that gives them some trouble what are the potential weaknesses? We're looking at two opponents right now right Minnesota and we're looking at potentially Dallas and to me the thing with Minnesota is the defense Minnesota has had the best defense in the league all year and when they faced off in Minneapolis and they lost I think there was this question around like they're getting out of their offensive rhythm and the Celtics have so much talent on their you know on their team that they really should be able to overcome good defense and sometimes they just get a little bit stagnant they go to iso ball and they sort of hunt mismatches and stop kind of moving and playing as a team and looking for one another and looking at the fact that they usually have five guys in the court that can shoot three pointers and so to me it's all about not getting bogged down offensively because their offense fuels their defense and I think that's one of the things that I didn't really realize at the beginning of the season and we've kind of been studying and watching this when their offense starts to go down their defense starts to go down because it's all transition and it becomes this kind of self-fulfilling thing and so the key is to not get bogged down offensively for them and I think Minnesota is going to pose a challenge just because I just watched them shut out Denver for a series right or for at least multiple games in that series and that was an offense that seemed pretty impossible to shut down. That's where they're going to have to stay stay solid and not drive to the lane and force things or you know Tatum and Brown they have so much talent they usually have an advantage over whoever's guarding them right so it can be easy to not make the pass or find Derek White in the corner or find Drew Holliday or start to feel like I you know we're panicking we're starting we have to you know get something quick right now.

That's what we saw in Miami last year at points against Azone. The other thing that I think is a little bit of a question mark is just poor Zengas and if he's going to be ready to go and how he's going to be able to contribute because you don't want a guy who's not a hundred percent or is not in a good rhythm on the court either but obviously he's been instrumental and important to what they've done this year. Well you read my mind I was going there next Brad Stevens made this move and sacrificed Marcus Smart a guy who was really the heart and soul of their defense and their team and had been there for so long to get Kristaps for Zengas to add a little height right to add a little bulk inside the lane and now he's not available so what's the latest?

We haven't heard much every time we ask about it on the beat you know normally we're told you know no update not sure how he's doing by Joe Mazula. So I think the woes latest was that he said that he's eyeing a game four return which would put him in on Monday and obviously that would be great because to me the biggest thing is not coming back the series. I don't think the public will lose the series without him and I feel even stronger about that take now when they're up 2-0 but it's just you don't want his first game back to the game one of the finals against Minnesota for example going against their really tall front court and physical and you know an effective front court. I would probably guess game four is right or somewhere around that but also this is an injury that you have to be really careful with the soleus strain there's risk for an Achilles pair you know you want to make sure he's able to be really agile and kind of at his best and so we've seen him shoot around a little bit do a little bit of defensive drills in Cleveland. I bet when we're on the road in Indianapolis we'll see a little bit more I feel like the road shoot around you get a little bit more access and visibility and he looks pretty good he definitely looks better than he did a couple weeks ago but you know the difference between that and actually gameplay and NBA finals gameplay is significant and I just I don't know that we know exactly where he's at. Noah Dalzell is with us from Boston following game number two. Drew Holliday's a guy who has championship experience what does he bring to the locker room? Drew Holliday's been instrumental he has given them a sense of calm and kind of this veteran presence that was really needed and also he has won a championship right and if I went back before the season and looked at all the last previous championship winners and there's just been a couple of examples over the last 25 years where a team was able to win a championship without someone on the roster that had already won and so it's really unusual and then the subject went ahead and added Sam Cassell who obviously is one of the player and then Drew Holliday who obviously one of the player as well and I think that their perspective it's not that they bring it up all the time but I think it's really valuable to know that someone here has done this and someone here has been in this position these last few games he's just been incredible offensively defensively assist you know hitting the open three and I think he missed one shot tonight he was huge on offense and then obviously defensively I mean I think sometimes people are a little bit underrating him because the advanced analytics on his defense aren't as high as some of the other guard defenders in the league but every time you ask the player who do you hate guarding you they always say Drew Holliday Kyrie Talbert just the other night said he's the best defender in the league so that's what happened to me tonight just really what this team needed and if they are able to get it done this year I think a lot of the credit will go to him and that acquisition are they having fun Noah because it seems like they're so locked in and they're so business-like and professional which is huge of course they've got a major task in front of them sometimes I'm not sure they're having fun yeah I think they are and I think some of the business piece of it all is a little bit more like to the media because they you know they've been here before they've done this lots of times they're not going to be goofy like OKC or you know they also don't do joint pressers which I think is a little bit of a a little bit of a loss as far as just like being able to put their camaraderie on display the way that so many other like duos across the league have done I always watch like the bench reactions I have a really good seat to be able to watch everybody on the bench and I'm always yeah and I think everybody's always kind of laughing cheering each other on I don't think there's been any conflict or egos on this team everybody's really committed to winning a championship but I do think that there's a little bit of a downside to a season where the whole year you're thinking about winning a championship versus a team like Indiana that is like winning the first round was huge that was a huge milestone right winning the second round was huge you're able to really celebrate each of those steps I don't think they really are celebrating each of those steps the way that other teams are and part of that comes from the media and expectations around them I mean I think they're not going to get any credit for any of this until they win a championship and they feel that and I think it does have an impact but just as a unit and as a group I think they have a lot of fun well it's certainly fun to win and they are up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals great to connect with Noah who's still at the Garden working on her stories and her material for tonight so make sure you find her on Twitter at Noah Dalzell NBA n-o-a-d-a-l-z-e-l-l-n-b-a for SB Nation Celtics blog it was good to connect with you I hope we can do it again Noah thank you absolutely thanks for having me dive into the start of summer at Whole Foods Market check out their summer splash event with sales on fresh organic produce organic strawberries and a fan favorite sale on Ben & Jerry's and Tolenti explore deals on grill friendly meats like organic air-chilled chicken breast beef and chicken kebabs all with no antibiotics ever from our meat department plus grab easy 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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-24 07:19:49 / 2024-05-24 07:28:11 / 8

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