1. Who will close games at point guard?
The Celtics were smart to move on from Kemba Walker, but they weren’t able to adequately replace him this offseason. Signing Dennis Schroder to a team-friendly deal in free agency helps their depth, but there’s a reason why the Lakers didn’t elect to pay the attacking point guard.
The battle to close the games at point guard likely will boil down to Schroder and Marcus Smart. There’s an outside chance Payton Pritchard works his way into the mix with his shooting ability, but his defensive limitations should relegate him to duty with the second unit.
Smart is a defensive powerhouse who energizes the Celtics with his hard-nosed play. He can guard multiple positions at a high level which gives him a great chance to close games for his team. The problem with deploying him at the point guard position is that he’s a minus shooter for the position. Opponents will be content to leave him alone when he’s positioned beyond the three-point arc.
Schroder is the better individual scorer, but that’s not really what the Celtics need. That means the German guard will need to be a significantly better perimeter shooter than Smart if he wants to take his minutes. Schroder’s defense will never be up to Smart’s level, it’s all about added floor spacing if he’s going to win out.
There’s also a chance the player who’s going to close games for Boston at point guard isn’t on the roster yet. If the Celtics make an in-season trade, expect it to be for a lead guard who can help space their offense and hold up on the defensive end.