Brian Robb: The Disturbing Decline of the Celtics Offense
Itís been a slow disturbing decline for the Celticsí offense over the past four seasons.
With a core of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and a young Rajon Rondo at the helm,
the Cís rode those horses to a top-10 NBA offense back in their championship 2007-08
season. After the team peaked with a high-octane top-6 offense the next year, itís been a
bit of a freefall as you can see in the chart below, as the teamís core offensive pieces
aged and despite Danny Aingeís best efforts, there were very few effective
reinforcements during each subsequent offseasons for a variety of reasons.
Points per 100 possessions for Celtics offense:
2007-08: 110.2 (10th)
2008-09: 110.5 (6th)
2009-10: 107.7 (15th)
2010-11: 106.2 (18th)
2011-12: 100.1 (26th)
The bottoming out of the offense last year concluded with the Cís mustering just two points
over the final 5:12 against the Miami Heat in Game 7, an almost fitting end for a team that
struggled mightily with scoring droughts all year long. The offensive woes were as
understandable as they were frustrating for the Cís over those past couple years however.
Countless injuries (Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox) combined with underwhelming talent (Mickael
Pietrus was the teamís leading scorer off the bench averaging 6.9 points per game in 2011
-12) led to a burden on the teamís aging core that was incapable of handling on a night in,
night out basis. Amazingly, the team fought its way to a Game 7 of the Eastern Conference
Finals despite a bottom of the barrel offense, largely on the back of Rajon Rondoís
increased aggression but there was no doubt work had to be done this offseason to correct
the teamís offensive deterioration.
In fact, when you look at the vast majority of Bostonís moves this offseason, thatís exactly
the goal Ainge probably had as his first priority. Instead of bringing in defensive-minded
players with a ďlimitedĒ to put it nicely, offensive upside (Marquis Daniels, Sasha Pavlovic,
Jermaine OíNeal, Greg Steimsma, Pietrus are just a few examples), Ainge loaded up on
players that had offense as their main asset. Jason Terry, Leandro Barbosa, Jeff Green,
Chris Wilcox, Brandon Bass were all signings in which the scoring and/or spacing the
player would bring the Cís was their biggest weapon. Even more defensive-minded players
brought in (Courtney Lee) were thought of being consistent two-way players.
On the surface, this made a lot of sense for Ainge. In giving the teamís core some support
for the scoring load, it would not only improve the teamís offensive efficiency but take the
onus off the likes of Pierce, Garnett and even Rondo, who still has not shown he can be
counted on for significant scoring on a nightly basis when the team needs it.
For the first month of the season, Aingeís plan was looking good, at least on the
offensive end. The Cís were middling around the .500 mark record-wise, but sported
an improved top-10 offensive rating.
The defense was going through a number of
somewhat expected growing pains (21st in defensive efficiency) over this same month,
but that had to be expected to a degree with the variety of new personnel at all positions.
Schemes needed to be learned, trust needed to be developed between teammates, and a
commitment needed to be shown to playing ďCeltics defense.Ē
The offense over the month of November was probably exactly how Ainge envisioned it,
productivity-wise. The Cís had cut down remarkably on their turnovers (8th in league
rate), were shooting a high percentage from the field and the arc, and also got to the
line a top-10 league rate. The offensive rebounding problem remained, as it always will
with Doc Rivers at the helm, but the Cís were showing signs of having enough firepower
offensively to keep pace with their high-octane opponents on ďdownĒ defensive nights, a
luxury they simply did not have in past years.
Yet, that month of offensive production was short-lived, as for the past six weeks, the
Cís offense has reversed course, falling the pattern of the teamís last four seasons...into
an offensive free fall.
How bad has it become? Since November 28th, (17 games) the Celtics have sported
the second worst offensive efficiency (97 points per 100 possessions) in the entire
NBA, second to just the Washington Wizards.
That means November 28th, (17 games)
the Celtics have sported the second worst offensive efficiency (97 points per 100
possessions) in the entire NBA, second to just the Washington Wizards. That means
theyíve been scoring at a worse rate than offensive juggernauts such as the Cleveland
Cavaliers, New Orleans Hornets, and the Charlotte Bobcats for more than half the
season now. The exact trend...CONTINUE READING AT CELTICS HUB