Stats Indicate Celtics Should Avoid Daniel Theis If Robert Williams Inactive For Game 4

Miami has had its way with Boston when Theis is on the floor


May 23, 2022

The Boston Celtics have looked to their depth pieces to come through in big spots throughout the NBA playoffs due to various injuries and absences.

But no matter whether Robert Williams III is available for Game 4 against the Miami Heat, the Celtics should not count on giving meaningful minutes to depth big man Daniel Theis. Theis, who had one or two fine performances in Boston’s postseason run, has negatively impacted the Celtics during the Eastern Conference finals.

Theis got the start Saturday with Williams sidelined. Celtics coach Ime Udoka wanted to keep Al Horford in the role he would play if Williams was available.

Well, Heat center Bam Adebayo proceeded to start the game 5-for-6 from the field while scoring 10 of Miami’s first 22 points. Adebayo, who had been largely silent in the prior two games, feasted on Theis to the tune of 21 first-half points.

Sure, Theis wasn’t the lone reason Miami built a 26-point lead in the first half. The Celtics were abysmal on the defensive end, with Jayson Tatum a minus-17 in the opening six minutes, as well. But Theis’ size proved a non-factor while having an impact on Boston’s rotations.

The Celtics’ second-half rally came with Theis on the bench. He played three minutes after halftime.

It proved a small glimpse into the series. Theis has played 36:39 in three games against the Heat and the Celtics have been outscored by 36 points in those minutes. Boston has outscored Miami by 44 points in the 107:21 that Theis has spent on the bench.

Theis was a minus-16 in Boston’s Game 1 loss and a minus-13 in Saturday’s 109-103 defeat. Those games were largely decided by one brutal quarter from the Green, and Theis was on the floor for both of them. In the third quarter of Game 1, Theis was a minus-12. Then, in a horrid first quarter in Game 3, he was minus-19.

Even in Boston’s shellacking of the Heat in Game 2, a 25-point win in which the Celtics suffocated Miami, Theis was a minus-7 in six garbage-time minutes. Boston had both Horford and Williams in Game 2, the lone contest in this series that both were available. There’s a chance both will be available Monday.

Williams, who has been dealing with right knee soreness, was feeling better Sunday, according to Udoka. He remains questionable entering a crucial Game 4.

If Williams is unable to go for the Green, it feels like Boston would be wise to give Theis’ minutes elsewhere. Grant Williams seems like an obvious choice to step in — he started the second half instead of Theis in Game 3 — but Boston’s ability to go small could be an option, as well. That, of course, might depend on the Game 4 availability of Marcus Smart, who is dealing with an ankle injury.

Celtics-Heat Game 4 is scheduled to tip off Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET, and here’s how you can watch it.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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