Adding Monroe makes Celtics overwhelming favorite in Eastern Conference

Adding Monroe makes Celtics overwhelming favorite in Eastern Conference

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics needed more size.

The Boston Celtics needed another scorer.

In getting a commitment from Greg Monroe, the Celtics got both. 


The eight-year veteran will sign a one-year deal worth about $5 million this weekend, with the earliest we might see him don the Green and White being Sunday afternoon against Portland although it's more likely to be sometime next week. 

We’ve seen Danny Ainge make moves close to the trade deadline in past years, but this one – at least in the Brad Stevens regime – is different. 

Past moves since Stevens came aboard were designed to make the team better. 

Adding Monroe?

This soon-to-be-signing moves the needle in a way for Boston that takes them to the top of the Eastern Conference mountaintop where they are now far and away the team to beat in the East.

Monroe is a known commodity who has averaged double figures scoring every year except for his rookie season. 

In addition, he averages 8.7 rebounds per game. 

And while his career assists numbers (2.3 per game) are nothing to get too excited about, league executives NBC Sports Boston has talked to about Monroe credit his court vision and ability to make “the hockey assist” as being strengths of his game that will make him a good fit coming off the Celtics bench. 

As much as the Celtics want to fly under-the-radar when it comes to talk about them getting to the NBA Finals, make no mistake about it people. 

The addition of Monroe makes the Celtics the overwhelming favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference now. 

Despite having the best record (38-15) in the East, Boston’s lack of big man depth was going to be the death of them if they didn’t address it via trade or buyout. 

And the preference all along for Ainge and the Celtics, was to do exactly what they did to get Monroe and that’s use some of the $8.4 million disabled player exception they were granted after Gordon Hayward’s dislocated ankle injury in the season opener at Cleveland. 

So not only did they add talent, but did so without having to touch a single body on their roster. 

And as much as Boston’s success hinges on who they have been able to assemble roster-wise, they also benefit from the uncertainty surrounding the rosters of other teams. 

Since LeBron James returned to Cleveland, the Cavs tend to cruise along in the regular season and shift into a different gear when the playoffs roll around. 

But they aren’t cruising now. 

That defense is among the worst in the NBA, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. 


Toronto has lots of experience and are led by DeMar DeRozan who is playing at an in-the-discussion-for-league-MVP level. 

They will be Boston’s stiffest challenge going forward, but the Celtics’ depth should be enough to get them past Toronto.

The Miami Heat have been playing well of late, but the Celtics’ depth and the one problem Miami presents to most teams – Hassan Whiteside – isn’t as big a problem now with Monroe coming on board to join Boston’s 1-2 big man punch of Al Horford and Aron Baynes. 

The biggest challenge for the Celtics will be integrating him into a rotation that will impact the playing time of a handful of players, namely Baynes and rookie Daniel Theis. 

But if you’re the Celtics and that’s arguably the greatest challenge on the horizon with the Monroe addition, you will be more than happy to have to deal with those title-contending problems.


No time to dwell on it, Game 7 awaits

No time to dwell on it, Game 7 awaits

CLEVELAND – The Celtics have been perfect at home in the playoffs and with a Game 7 win on Sunday, they would set an NBA record for consecutive home wins in the postseason with 11.

It would also improve their record to 38-0 in series in which they open with a pair of wins.

Still, as they went about making this improbable journey to where they are a win away from a trip to the NBA Finals, history has never been a motivating factor.

And with where they are now in the grand scheme of things, it becomes even less of a motivating factor.

“At the end of the day, you have to make your own history,” said Jaylen Brown. “We have to come out and do what we have to do. People can say what they want. Two teams have to come out and play.”

That stay-in-the-moment mindset has served them well all season and becomes even more important following a Game 6 loss Friday night, a game in which the Celtics did a lot of what they were intending to do in order to give themselves a shot at winning.

But the game ultimately came down to the C's going through one of its scoring lulls, getting behind by double digits and not making that one shot or getting that clutch defensive stop to swing the momentum in their favor.

There’s no time to dwell on that, not with a Game 7 matchup on the horizon.

“It’s over with now,” Brown said. “We can’t afford to think in the past, ‘oh we should have won.’ It’s over with. Game 7 at home in the Garden; great atmosphere, great environment, great stage. Come out and play some great basketball, high energy and let’s see who comes out on top.”

Here are five takeaways from Boston’s 109-99 Game 6 loss to the Cavs:


He had 15 points on 7-for-13 shooting which is a pretty good night for most players. But what really stood out was the fact that Tatum, arguably Boston’s best player at creating his own shot off the dribble, did not take a single free throw. The reason was two-fold: the ball didn’t find its way into his hands enough and when it did, opportunities to get to the rim and attack were few and far between.


Marcus Morris has been tasked with being one of the primary defenders against LeBron James, knowing full well he – or any NBA player for that matter – can only hope to slow him down. Morris has not done as well of late in limiting James and to make matters worse, he has struggled to impact the game offensively. In Game 6, he was 3-for-10 shooting with a number of the misses being attempts at the rim or relatively open perimeter looks. Of all the Celtics, Morris will likely benefit the most when it comes to being at home.


LeBron James (46 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists) was dominant as ever, but it was the Cavaliers role players that really won this game for Cleveland. George Hill had 20 points. Jeff Green and Larry Nance Jr. came off the bench to score 14 and 10 points, respectively. Kyle Korver hit a couple 3’s and for the most part, did a solid job defensively. Limiting their impact will be among the chief goals for the Celtics heading into Sunday’s Game 7 matchup.


They’re called free throws but when you miss too many of them, there’s often a high cost to be paid. The Celtics found that out in Game 6. While the Cavs took two more free throws (22) than the Celtics (20), Boston wound up making seven fewer free throws courtesy of them shooting a woeful 55 percent (11-for-20) from the line while the Cavs were 18-for-22. Teams tend to shoot better from the line at home, a trend Boston certainly hopes will continue for at least one more game.


After a collision with Jayson Tatum in the first quarter, Love (concussion testing) was unable to return for Game 6, and at this point, he is questionable at best for Game 7. Jeff Green and Larry Nance Jr. picked up the minutes left by Love’s absence and if Love doesn’t play in Game 7 those two will likely gobble up most of those 30-plus minutes that would have gone to Love. That could lead to Boston making another lineup change with Marcus Morris back with the first unit in place of Aron Baynes to better match up with Cleveland.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: It all comes down to Game 7 at the Garden

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: It all comes down to Game 7 at the Garden

1:33 - Tommy Heinsohn, Mike Gorman and Brian Scalabrine break down the Cavaliers' Game 6 win over the Celtics to force a Game 7. Tommy Heinsohn also tips his cap to what LeBron was able to do in a do or die Game 6.

7:56 - A. Sherrod Blakely and Abby Chin discuss how many minutes (46) LeBron James played in Game 6 and whether that will have an impact on the Cavaliers in Game 7 on Sunday.

9:44 - Jared Carrabis joins Mike Giardi to give his take on the Red Sox designating Hanley Ramirez for assignment.