This is a series of posts which highlight each key player in the Celtics’ run towards banner 18. It will highlight the areas of their game they need to improve most for the Celtics to be able to compete with the talent-blitzed teams of 2012-13. The area will sometimes be a player’s biggest flaw, or sometimes his biggest strength, but each post will highlight what this Celtics team needs players to change this season for the Celtics to have success.
Most of us remember painfully watching the last games of the Eastern Conference Finals, yelling at the television for the Celtics to take advantage of the Miami Heat’s small-ball lineup with Shane Battier covering Brandon Bass at power forward. On paper it should have been a match-up dominated by Bass, who had a solid 25-pound advantage and considerably broader shoulders. In reality Battier shut down BB on the defensive end, limiting Bass’ patented pick and pop game with overactive feet and hands cutting down passing lanes. Every time Bass touched the ball on offense, Battier was right there, hacking away. On the other end of the floor Battier was able to uncomfortably stretch the floor for BB by raining in triples from both corners like it was hurricane season. Needless to say The Heat came out on top of that matchup, and I began to lose my voice.
In the spirit of looking forward at the possibilities instead of looking back at the tragedies, post play is, nicely put, an area of Bass’s game that could use some improvement. As long as Rondo is the point guard of the Celtics, the accompanying power forward will have 16+ foot jump shots available to him every game, and to BB’s credit, he was consistent with that shot hitting more than 46% of his shots from that range, more than 95% of which were assisted (the Rondo effect). Bass took 203 shots at the rim compared to 329 beyond 16 feet. For comparisons sake I looked up Paul Pierce’s shooting statistics, a person who is often criticized for settling for the jumper far too often. His numbers reveal 312 shots at the rim and 258 shots from 16 feet to the three point line. Long story short: Brandon Bass is not taking enough shots near the hoop, which would most simply be generated through a post-up game.
Lastly, here is why it is important: floor spacing. So much of the success of basketball teams depends on it. The Orlando Magic were able to overachieve based on their talent by making it to the NBA finals with a rock of Dwight Howard plopped in the middle of their offense and three-point shooters scurrying around the outside. Their talent was inferior, but it was formulaic and simple. To a lesser extent, floor spacing is something the Celtics need to alter a little bit for this upcoming season. Last season the Celtics lacked a deep post threat on both ends, having the scrawny KG playing center. They settled for too many jump shots, and despite having the fifth best field goal percentage in the NBA (46%) finished 25th in the NBA in offensive efficiency, largely because their lack of an interior presence kept them from drawing free throws and/or securing offensive rebounds. For the Celtics to achieve increased success they need a legitimate deep post threat, something they lost when they traded Glen Davis away (only half kidding). For the Celtics to compete with some of the best teams in the NBA, some of which have more collective talent, it is paramount that the team has defined roles and plays within a system. Brandon Bass improving in his post game would be a huge step in that direction.