Orlando (AP) – Daniel Theis is making a name for himself in the strongest basketball league in the world – even if he missed the Boston Celtics in the opening defeat in the final of the Eastern Conference at the end.
After one and a half minutes in extra time, Theis had to leave the field in the 114: 117 defeat against Miami Heat because of too many fouls. The professional, who is especially important for the defense work of the Celtics, looked from the bench as his opponent Bam Adebayo blocked a seemingly safe dunk from Celtics professional Jayson Tatum seconds before the end.
Theis score four points, four rebounds and three assists against Miami in 35 minutes – now game two continues on the night from Thursday to Friday (01:00 CEST).
Ex-superstar Shaquille O’Neal did not know the German international recently and Theis has not had a long conversation with his compatriot Dirk Nowitzki. But as a player with the best defensive rating of all NBA professionals in the playoffs and as a regular on a team in the finals of the Eastern Conference, attention for the center inevitably grows. “We want to win everything. That is still our goal,” said the 28-year-old in an interview with the German press agency.
“I play for myself and my team and not for other people. But maybe he will notice at some point if we keep playing like this. Hopefully he will remember after the season and think: If I had known the name,” said Theis of the The moment when O’Neal enthusiastically praised him in his role as TV expert for TNT after game five against defending champion Toronto Raptors, but didn’t know him either.
In his third NBA season since he left Brose Bamberg and previous stations in Ulm and Braunschweig, Theis is now an elementary part of the Celtics. For every hundred minutes of playing time with him on the field, the team from Boston collects an average of 100.1 points in the playoffs – no other professional is better, his teammates Jaylen Brown (100.8) and Jayson Tatum follow in second and third place (100.9) ahead of superstar LeBron James from the Los Angeles Lakers in fourth place (101.3).
Theis’ development is remarkable and obviously unexpected in this form for the Celtics. Originally signed as a substitute, he signed a new two-year contract a year ago after the first season and received an annual salary of five million dollars for this and the coming season – compared to other starting players and measured by his value for the team, Theis is an absolute bargain in the League.
“I am extremely happy and am pleased that the coaching staff, but also everyone with whom I am on the field, appreciate my work on the field. There is appreciation for me,” he said. Theis not only plays mostly from the start, coach Brad Stevens also prefers the native of Lower Saxony to be on the field in the crucial minutes of close games and therefore spares him in between when he has collected too many fouls.
The winner of the Conference Finals in the East meets the best team in the West and plays for the championship. Theis is the first German since Dirk Nowitzki to have realistic chances of winning the NBA title when he won the Mavericks in 2011.
Theis only knows the best German basketball player in history as an opponent. “We never met in the national team and even when we played against Dallas people said hello, but unfortunately never really got to know each other,” he said of “unfortunately not really knowing the Mavericks legend personally”. “I know, maybe I’ll be the next German to win the championship in the NBA, maybe there will be a connection then.” The former Lakers star O’Neal should also be able to do something with the name Daniel Theis at the latest.
The Los Angeles Clippers, on the other hand, have no chance of winning the title after their unexpectedly significant defeat against the Denver Nuggets and are eliminated. The team around Kawhi Leonard lost 89: 104 in game seven, lost 3: 4 in the series despite a 3-1 lead in the meantime and has to wait for the first participation in the finals of the Western Conference. There the Nuggets are now playing against the Los Angeles Lakers around LeBron James for a place in the final series against either the Celtics or the Heat.
The team from Denver was 1: 3 behind against Utah Jazz in the previous round and is now the first team in NBA history to turn such a deficit twice in the same playoffs. The outstanding player was again Jamal Murray with 40 points.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200916-99-579630 / 4