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BOSTON - Celtics Mailbag is back! We asked you to submit questions on Twitter, and we pulled a bunch of them to answer today. The latest edition of our Mailbag Q&A is below.
Answer: The Celtics have been inside the bubble for more than three weeks now, and while they’re certainly missing their family and friends, they seem to be enjoying their time with one another.
Videos have surfaced of the team doing everything from golfing together, to going on bike rides, to playing beach volleyball, to holding swim races. Something tells us there’s even more fun happening behind closed doors that we haven’t seen yet.
The other positive coming out of the bubble is that the team continues to bond together through important conversations, as Brad Stevens alluded to Wednesday.
“I think the time together has been even more rewarding than usual,” he said, “because I think all of us have probably had even deeper, more connective conversations with regard to race and all that’s going on, maybe even more so than before.”
Answer: In my eyes, this isn’t just a Jayson Tatum question. This is a league-wide question.
I personally think that nearly every player is going to have his “rusty” moments. Some might have those moments at the start of the first game, while others might have them during the following couple of games. It’s impossible to expect every player to look like they’re in mid-season form after practicing for only three weeks and playing in a couple of exhibition games.
The good news for Boston is that it is built to overcome rusty moments by some of its players. The team has plenty of high-end talent that is more than capable of picking up the slack if another key player or two are struggling.
But to answer your original question: not long. I expect Tatum to look like himself from the get-go Friday night, with a few rusty moments mixed in along the way.
Answer: Yes, he will be – at least at the very start. That number will fall between 15-20 minutes for the first game and will likely slowly increase from that point on if Walker doesn’t suffer any setbacks.
It’s promising that Walker is reacting well to an increased workload, as Stevens mentioned following Wednesday’s practice.
“He looked great. He went through the whole practice today,” the coach said. “Today was a hard practice where we really pushed ourselves and did everything without any issues. Was moving great. High spirits.”
And that’s a great lead-in to our next question…
Answer: Yes! For the most part, at least. Walker is the only player who is currently dealing with an injury that will limit his playing time come Friday night. That being said, Stevens has already stated that he doesn’t expect any of his players to log 38 or more minutes during the first game.
Answer: This is an interesting one, because it feels like Langford is now tipping off his second season, which is typically when young players really begin to figure things out in the league. He played well during the team’s final two scrimmage games, scoring nine points during each of the two contests while showing an ability to get to the rim and play through contact. His role, however, will not be to score. It will be to defend.
Langford has the ability to be a lockdown defender. He has a fantastic combination of length, strength, lateral agility and defensive instincts. These are the skills which the Celtics will call upon during the restart of the season, should they need Langford to step in and provide minutes.
Answer: Seeding is no longer important for home-court advantage. It’s now important for matchups throughout the course of a potential playoff run.
As you mentioned, every game is being played at a neutral location. Although the NBA is doing its best to work in crowd noise and provide a home-team atmosphere, there is almost no advantage to being the home team.
With home-court advantage being thrown out the window, what’s most important with regard to seeding is matchups. For example, in the East, Boston would love to get up to the No. 2 seed and avoid a first-round matchup with Miami, Indiana or Philadelphia. In the West, Houston would love to stay in the sixth seed or move up in order to avoid a first-round series with the Clippers.
Answer: Virtual fans are indeed being worked into the arenas inside the bubble. The Celtics have targeted groups such as Season Ticket Members, Wait List Members, Corporate and Community Partners, Group Ticket Leaders and so on to gauge their interest in being virtual fans at Celtics games. Staff and player friends and family have also been offered the opportunity to virtually attend the games.
The one thing you can learn from this answer: if you live in the New England area, there are some great benefits to being a Celtics Season Ticket Member and/or Partner. Members of these groups will almost always have first access to sign up for exclusive experiences such as this one during the NBA’s restart.