According to Sean Devensy of Heavy Sports, the Boston Celtics are less than pleased with Chicago’s latest roster change. Considering the frustration stems from a third team involved, the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston’s irritation should not be aimed at the Bulls but rather at their own failure to reaffirm their bench depth over the trade deadline and buyout market period. Boston has growing concerns about the challenges the Bucks will present in the postseason, and those problems just got even tougher to solve. Milwaukee snagged veteran point guard Goran Dragic after the Bulls bought out his contract, which freed him to sign to a postseason roster. Let’s see why the Celtics are so upset with the Bulls’ decision to let the 15-year veteran guard walk.
Bulls’ Backcourt Too Crowded
Many knew this move could be on the horizon after the trade deadline was spent looking for a point guard, the buyout market period was spent signing a point guard, and during the All-Star break, the team announced that Lonzo Ball was sidelined for the remainder of the 2022-23′ season. The focal point of the last two months in Chicago was finding someone to fill the void that Ball has left since his injury in January of 2022.
“FROM EVERYTHING I’M TOLD THEY WANT TO CONTEND FOR THE PLAYOFFS. THEY’RE TRYING TO GO GET GUARD HELP IN THE TRADE MARKET… THEY HAVE BEEN ACTIVELY TRYING TO GET A GUARD OUT THERE.”Shams Charania leading up to 2023 trade deadline
Dragic was brought in during free agency, and many thought he could provide some of the things that Ball’s absence would expose, but that was not the case. He was not as good of a three-point shooter as the team hoped, his defense and facilitating abilities declined over the season, and he did not excel at anything enough to keep him around. He failed to score ten or more points in his final 19 games with the Bulls, and his three-point percentage had plummeted to beneath 23% for the final two months of his tenure in Chicago. Being only a 42% shooter from the field with only 2.7 assists per contest with 1.1 turnovers, the move to Patrick Beverley was basically a parallel shift that added defense and aggressive accountability in Dragic’s place.
Dragic Headed For The Playoffs
While Chicago will have to claw their way into the postseason, and hopes are dwindling by the day, Dragic looks like he’ll be headed there with flying colors alongside his new team. The Milwaukee Bucks own the best record in the NBA at 48-18, including a 9-1 record in their last ten contests. The second-seeded Boston Celtics are concerned that with the additions of Jae Crowder and Goran Dragic that things may look a bit different when the two inevitably clash deep in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
In their latest meeting, the Bucks had neither player on their roster and were exposed for having noticeably less depth than the Celtics. Every single bench player for Milwaukee had a negative plus/minus, while all but one of Boston’s bench unit had a positive one. The two best players coming off Boston’s bench are Malcolm Brogdon and Grant Williams, who were a combined +27, with 20 points, eight rebounds, and four assists in that game. If the two squads were to meet in the playoffs, they would now have to deal with defensively tenacious Crowder and offensively crafty Dragic, which instantly bolsters Milwaukee’s chances.
Chicago holds a 4-3 record against these two teams and will visit Milwaukee for the final matchup between these two in April. Is a Dragic revenge game incoming? While Boston’s second unit is still stronger than Milwaukee’s by most accounts, the Bucks did make significantly under-the-radar improvements to what could be a championship-contending roster. The Bucks and Celtics currently hold two of the top three odds to win the NBA Championship this season and the two best odds to win the Eastern Conference Finals.
While Goran Dragic wasn’t in a Bulls uniform for long, he was a momentary spark off the bench, a veteran leader to some of the younger guards on the roster, and surfaced some real issues that Chicago faced early on. In many ways, he sparked the team’s accountability following the early season embarrassment in Minnesota.
It’ll be interesting to see if his addition will push Milwaukee over the top. Boston’s concerns with the veteran guard are rooted in the 20.5 points and 4.7 assists he averaged against them just three postseasons ago in a 4-2 Miami series victory. He’s averaged at least ten points and 33% or better from three-point territory in each of his last three postseason runs, so don’t be surprised if his production increases come playoff time.