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First to Earth: Derek White vs. Marcus Smart? Peyton Pritchard vs. Al Horford? Who do you have?

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in this episodeBen, Jake, and I chatted big about where the team sits, discussed some trading deadline goals, quickly previewed the Warriors game, and introduced a new (hopefully recurring) clip: Celtics face off. The clip is fairly simple. We introduce players and evaluate who is the best at a particular skill. It ended up being very interesting and I think provides a different way to assess and discuss certain parts of these players’ games. So, without further ado, here’s the first round of the Celtics showdown.

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Marcus Smart vs. Derek White: Navigation Screen

Starting with a difficult one. This feels like me choosing between two of my kids (although I only have one so I don’t really know what the feeling is), two guys who excel at getting around screens, whether it’s while guarding a screen for a high ball or chasing down shooters.

Smart uses his strength and body to rise above most screens, while White is more snakelike in the way he sneaks past them.

We all know Smart is a master at drawing offensive fouls when he’s on display, and he’s got this nice move when he’s off. That might be enough for him to beat Derrick White.

Spoony Referee: Marcus Smart with my hairline.

Al Horford v. Luke Kornet: Rim Protection

It seems kind of like a joke at first, but it’s actually pretty interesting. This doesn’t compare them as general defenders, as it would leave Al Luke so far behind that he’d need actual wings, not a Stromile Swift version, to catch up. But, in edge protection only, it’s actually fairly close.

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Jim Dedmon, USA Today Sports

Al is slightly ahead of Luke in blocks per game, .9 vs. 8, but per 36 minutes, not even close. Luke averages 2.4 blocks per 36 minutes, more than Rob Williams, to Al’s 1.1. This worked out in Luke’s favor, but the more detailed defense numbers tell a different story.

The Al are bidding for a healthy 5.8 shots per game from less than 6 feet, and the opposition’s field goal percentage drops to an absurd 11.2% with the Al defense. Competitors shoot 2.3% worse on fewer shots with Lock Defense in the same area. Good, but not elite.

Spoony Verdict: Al still teaches lessons on how to defend the edge.

Payton Pritchard vs. Al Horford: Offensive setback

Peyton Pritchard averages 1.8 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes versus Horford’s 1.3. His offensive rebound percentage of 4.7% is better than 3.8%. Pritchard has the luxury of never getting into boxing, while Al is constantly fighting for position against the bigger guys on the opposing team. Watching Pritchard rebound is really fun.

“I just snuck in and read it off the rim. A lot of the rebounds are not over the rim. They are below.” Pritchard said after grabbing three offensive rebounds against Brooklyn Networks.

I know what the numbers say, but I really don’t care.

Spoony Verdict: Is the correct answer, right? right??!!

Jason Tatum vs. Marcus Smart: Scoring Next

Actually I don’t think this season is particularly close. If this is the playmaking of the post we might have a discussion, but Tatum’s posting numbers are ridiculous. Tatum’s survey is clever in almost every way of the post. More possessions (65 to 28), higher points per possession (1.37! to .93), and higher scoring frequency (67.7% to 46.4%). Not only is Tatum the best scorer on the team, he has an argument for being the best in the league. He’s in the 98th post-NBA.com efficiency percentage, and man, does he look good when he’s starting out.

Smart is no slouch in the post, especially for a 6’3″ guard. He’s in the 53rd percentile as a scorer. Not bad, Marcus, but you’re up against a juggernaut.

Spoony Referee: Jason Tatum.

Blake Griffin vs. Luke Cornette: Comedic Value

MG vs. LeBron. Ketchup vs mustard. Is sausage a sandwich? Some of the greatest debates of our time have nothing to do with this heavyweight duel. Kornet has the antics on the field, and Idiot facial expressions after that reverse endSly Strommel Swift.

He is also very funny in interviews. However, Blake Griffin is a real stand-up comedian, sort of, who does his own stand-up combos. It seems very easy

Spooney’s Verdict: Luke in a LANDSLIDE.

I hope you enjoy this, we had a lot of fun recording it and tell us in the comments your thoughts on the Celtics Faceoffs. Please remember to subscribe to the CelticsBlog’s podcast feed First to Earth on YouTube. Thank you for listening!

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