Two Celtics scored exactly nine points in the Celtics’ loss to the Jazz on Friday. However, those same two players had drastically different plus-minuses.
Now, single-game plus-minus isn’t a be-all-end-all stat by any means. However, when a player posts a -25 plus-minus in one game over 26:26, that can’t be ignored. That abysmal mark belongs to Brad Wanamaker. The other nine-point scorer in the Celtics 99-94 loss to the Jazz was Semi Ojeleye. He finished with a plus-minus of 4, which wouldn’t be worth mentioning normally. (For a complete recap of the Celtics' loss, click here.)
But their performances highlight the bigger issue with this Celtics team: the bench.
While these injuries are having a negative impact on the Celtics’ record, their absence presents Brad Stevens with an opportunity to evaluate the bench — even though he doesn’t “want to make any generalizations necessarily about our bench until we see our whole team in full.”
“I think those guys are trying and doing everything they can,” the Celtics head coach added.
Of course, Marcus Smart is normally the first reserve to enter the game. It looks like Stevens is leaning more toward Robert Williams as the big off the bench as Enes Kanter’s defense continues to deteriorate.
But there’s still the third spot that he hasn’t been able to solidify all season. Again, the team’s consistent flow of injuries has made this difficult to do. At the same time, Stevens has tried to mix things up throughout the year between Grant Williams, Wanamaker and Ojeleye.
Grant Williams should be part of the rotation as the ninth player, but Stevens has to give Ojeleye a run of consistent minutes now and see how he handles the opportunity.
Ojeleye has always left a lot to be desired when it comes to his offense, yet he’s shooting 37.6% from deep this season. That’s above league average — he’s also shooting better than Smart from deep.
Of course, Smart has taken far more threes than Ojeleye, but the forward shouldn’t take as many shots as Boston’s sixth man. It’s important that he’s efficient with his limited opportunities.
So this isn’t about getting Ojeleye to jack up shots left and right, it’s more about giving him time to get into the flow of the game on a nightly basis. Not: sit him one night, play him nine minutes the next, sit him again and play him 20 the following.