It’s Time for the Celtics to Unleash Air Jordan Mickey
The Celtics finished 2016 with a gutsy yet frustrating victory over a short-handed Heat team on Saturday night. Despite the Heat not having their two best offensive players, Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters, the Celtics were only just able to eke out a victory thanks mostly to the heroics of their pint sized superstar Isaiah Thomas and his 52 points.
As the Celtics go into 2017 they will attempt to consolidate their position at the top of the Eastern Conference and to do this they must step on the throats of weaker teams like the Heat. The Celtics have struggled, however, to put away these poor performing teams and as they play with their prey, the Celtics’ second unit often allows the opposition to get back into games.
It is not all doom and gloom for the Celtics, however, as compared to last season they are shooting the ball much better and their shooting efficiency has improved significantly. This has resulted in them having less cold stretches in which they struggle to put the ball through the basket. They are not relying on the three ball as much and they have shown the ability to score in the half court offense with the addition of the versatile forward Al Horford. Their main issue though and the reason they have allowed so many teams to get back into games is their lack of rebounding.
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Against the Heat the Celtics once again lost the rebounding battle with Miami, who totalled 39 boards compared to Boston’s 30. This is nothing new for the Celtics who have the second worst rebounding margin in the entire league. The only team with a worst differential is the Mavericks, who have had two seven footers in Nowitski and Bogut unavailable for most of the year. In fact, so far this season the Celtics have averaged a staggering 4.5 rebounds less than their opponents.
In previous articles I have thrown myself at the mercy of the Deal Maker extraordinaire, Danny Ainge, to make a trade but as this seems less and less likely to occur anytime soon, I would like to offer another suggestion. Mickey has languished on the bench for the majority of the season. His extreme athleticism has been trapped in a folding chair and I believe it is time to unleash him.
This may surprise the casual fan but I wholeheartedly believe that one of the main reasons the Cavaliers are the best team in the NBA is not James or Irving. It is not even Love or the flashy Smith, but Thompson who makes them so formidable. Thompson is a machine. He doesn’t care about stats, or points or the pedigree of his opponent, he cares about one thing; rebounds and if you are in his way, well you won’t be for long.
Thompson, like Rodman before him, isn’t the tallest guy on the court. Actually, at 6 foot 9 he is quite undersized at his position, but with his determination, strength and relentless pursuit of the ball, he is a rebounding force. Now when you compare Thompson to Mickey, the similarities are striking. Thompson is 6 foot 9, Mickey is 6 foot 8, Thompson is listed at 238 lbs, Mickey is 235 lbs. They are both big, strong and very athletic for their size.
So with Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk consistently getting outmuscled despite their size at seven feet and their preference to stay out of the paint with the big boys, Mickey is a viable option. Stevens has had great success utilizing Gerald Green recently off the bench who, after sitting on the bench for so long, has looked like a kid in a candy store with a fifty dollar bill in his hand and no parents watching him in his time on the court.
If Stevens can get in Mickey’s ear and tell him that the only way he is going to get minutes is to rebound the ball, I believe he can be extremely successful and the Celtics will reap the rewards. I believe Mickey has watched on with extreme jealously as his fellow bench brother Green has thrived and he will do whatever he possibly can to replicate his team mates success.
Now if you are still unconvinced I would like to point out that in the D-League last year, where he was actually playing decent minutes, he was averaging over 10 rebounds a game and with the 6 foot 3 Avery Bradley currently the Celtics’ top rebounder, they would love anything close to this kind of production. So with Zeller out with the flu, Amir Johnson working extremely hard but his body lacking the athleticism of his youth, Jonas Jerebko’s lack of size and desire to keep his hair quaffed and Olynyk’s allergy to the paint, I believe it is time to cut Mickey’s shackles to the bench and let him loose.