As Tom so aptly put it, the Celtics showed up on offense last night against an otherwise pesky defense. I’m not ready to say things are completely fixed on the offensive end, only because most of the offensive spark was mediated by Rajon Rondo who was attacking the Bulls’ third-string point guard all night. That being said, the Celtic’s have too many offensive weapons to be held down for long, and the offensive productivity allowed Celtics nation to collectively exhale.
This game was a great test to see how far along the Celtics are on the quest to become a cohesive team. They were aggressive and attacked the Bulls defense, a perfect example of which was the alley-oop dunk from Rondo to KG to twist the dagger for the night, finally declaring the Bulls dead after they continued to fight back. Said Doc (via the Boston Globe) “We thought coming in with this group that we could score. That it just takes time. I thought by far this was our best rhythm offensively.”
Scoring should become easier and easier for this Celtics team, and they can afford to sustain some off nights by some of their key players (Courtney Lee and Pierce) and still find an offensive flow.
As you can probably tell, this post is heading in a bit of a ‘negative Nancy’ direction now. The Celtic’s are still figuring out their defensive rotations, but that will come with time, there are enough athletes on this team and more importantly– Kevin Garnett is still barking orders form the back line. The C’s were out-rebounded 40-34 last night against the Bulls despite both teams having the same number of missed field goals. Jeff Green had a good night, registering five rebounds in his fifteen minutes, but other than him and Rondo (who was in ‘big game triple-double’ mode) the individual rebounding numbers were relatively pedestrian. The Celtics are, wait for it, 30th in the league in rebounds per game.
Rebounding was one of the few issues not directly addressed in the productive 2012 offseason. The Celtics reloaded with bolstered bench scoring and three point shooting, but rebounding help came in the more subtle form of rookie Jared Sullinger along with Darko Milicic and Jason Collins. Darko has seen a total of five minutes all season, with Collins yet to see the floor for Boston in the young season. Rebounding was the name of the game last year, and it seems to have carried over into this year. Playing Garnett at center has been a much acclaimed move, and a decision I am still very much in support of. But there is the downside of the move, which is the Celtic’s lack of size.
Boston will not grow taller and it does not appear that any big trades are on the horizon. PJ Brown is still retired and Perk is still on the Thunder, so the Celtics will likely look internally to solve this problem. While they lack size, they do have depth, which should allow them to run all over the court to find the appropriate person to put a body on and box out. A boost in guard rebounding from guys like Terry and Courtney Lee (both of whom average over 24 minutes a game and less than 1.5 rebounds per game) would go great lengths in finishing possessions and transitioning to the offensive end of the floor, as both are capable ball handlers to spark the fast break.
As the Celtics offense begins to fall into place it provides optimism for growth as this team looks ahead at the 82 game schedule. Rebounding will likely have to be an aspect they address, as it will be an interesting journey as this team continues to work through all of its kinks on the quest to dethrone the Miami Heat.