Single-team-themed days on certain sports networks are sometimes about as exciting as a four-corners offense. NBA fans in Boston aren’t exactly pining to hear, say, Mike Greenberg’s deep thoughts on the state of the Los Angeles Clippers, you know?
But when it’s a team you care about that is the sole focus, and the network producing the content deploys the right people and resources in a quest to provide genuine insight beyond the usual lukewarm debate-show takes, it can make for satisfying television.
The strong hunch here is ESPN’s day-long dedication to all things Celtics Wednesday, beginning with the 7 a.m. “SportsCenter” and leading up to their matchup with the Cavaliers at 7:30 p.m., will be entertaining and informative for even the most knowledgeable fans.
Among what ESPN is calling its “Boston Celtics All-Access” initiative will be a piece on what a practice is like through the eyes of Grant Williams; a behind-the-scenes for a coaching meeting and the staff pickup game; and an interview with Marcus Smart on “NBA Countdown.”
But the most intriguing feature is a segment in which Jayson Tatum sits down with analyst Doris Burke (who will call Wednesday’s game with play-by-play voice Ryan Ruocco) to break down film handpicked by Burke. The plan is for the segment to air during the noon “SportsCenter” and “NBA Today” at 3 p.m.
“I had a ball going over this stuff with him,’’ said Burke. “I could not have been more impressed by the level of detail in what he saw.”
She said she chose clips that demonstrated improvement or change in Tatum’s game as he evolved from a promising 19-year-old rookie to a Most Valuable Player candidate.
“Obviously he has become a much better restricted-area finisher, and so I had four or five of those clips,’’ said Burke. “He has virtually reduced his midrange attempts to about 10 percent [of his shots], a drastic drop from his rookie season. So I wanted to know how much of that is by design, and when is it OK to get to the midrange?
“He has already had a career high in free throw attempts, a career-high 3-point percentage, a career high in driving left. So I had a bunch of clips with various themes and then just sort of let it play, let him look at it, and then we talk through it.”
Burke conducted the film session with Tatum Tuesday at noon. She wishes the timing had occurred a little bit differently.
“So we’re set up several hours before we’re supposed to start and [Celtics coach] Joe Mazzulla happens by,” she said. “He said, ‘I hear you’re sitting down with Jayson. What clips did you choose?’ I said, ‘Well, come in and I’ll show you.’ ”
She put on a clip in which Tatum had the ball in semi-transition and Luke Kornet came to set a high screen. Mazzulla casually shared with her several details about the Celtics’ thinking in those situations and what the options were for the play.
“Joe says, ‘Oh, well, here’s the context of that,’ ” said Burke. “And to be honest with you, I wasn’t even thinking in this direction … Had I had the opportunity to screen all of those clips with Joe beforehand, it would have so elevated what we did.
“But on the flip side of that, Jayson talked me through at a level that was absolutely incredible.”
Tatum, who has become more candid this season, does not shy away from discussing his motivations and disappointments, Burke said.
“What I admire about him is that he takes an honest look at so-called weaknesses — maybe ‘weaknesses’ [is] too strong, but areas where he wasn’t as good as he had hoped,” she said. “So it takes humility and then it takes the desire and the work habits to go ahead and attack those weaknesses. Not everyone thinks that way.”
Burke said she and Tatum were just a couple of minutes into looking at clips when he brought up the 2022 Finals and the disappointment of losing to the Warriors in six games.
“He acknowledged, ‘I wasn’t very good in this area,’ and ‘I wasn’t very good in that area,’ ” she said. “The theme of this Celtics season seems to have been [the] hurt that he and the entire group felt having been so close and failing.
“It may have receded in the broader conversation, but it has in no way, shape, or form receded in Jayson’s mind. Not that he’s obsessing about it, but he’s taking the lessons learned and trying to move forward. And I admire that.”
Burke was so impressed with Tatum’s insight that she told him there might be another job waiting for him when his career is complete.
“I was asked afterward by about five people, ‘How did it go?’ I said, ‘Well, it went great, it went great,’ ” Burke said, “because Jayson was so good at it.
“At the end, I told him, ‘Listen, you have a long career ahead of you, but you should consider being an analyst when you’re done.’ Being an analyst isn’t just about the X’s and O’s. You have to have enthusiasm and an enjoyable personality, and all of that came through as we did this.”