Boston's Offense Has Been Trapped by NY
WALTHAM, Mass. – If you have watched the Celtics versus Knicks series and thought at times that Boston’s offense has looked trapped, your thoughts were right on point.
New York has hounded the Celtics’ offense with defensive traps throughout the first four games of the series. Those traps have been the main reason why Boston has scored an average of only 80.5 points per game over the first four, all while shooting a woeful 40.9 percent from the field.
The two players who have been dealing with the bulk of those traps are Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. They are Boston’s two most seasoned offensive players, so the offense goes through them more often than not. The Knicks are aware of that. It’s why they’ve been trying to force Garnett and Pierce to pass the ball out of every isolation or post-up attempt.
“It’s no secret: they’re going to trap Paul and they’re going to trap Kevin,” Doc Rivers said before Tuesday’s practice. “All year we’ve done a great job of really attacking traps, to the point where teams stopped trapping. And for whatever reason we haven’t made the open shots (in this series).”
Maybe that’s because the shots Boston has taken out of those traps have been low-quality looks. Garnett and Pierce are seasoned vets who know how to move the ball, but they need their teammates to make good decisions, too. All KG and Pierce can do is make the initial decision on how to attack the trap. It’s up to their teammates to make the ensuing choices that could lead to a shot.
“Honestly, I don’t think we made the right decisions,” said Rivers. “I thought we settled in the second half (of Game 4) on the traps. We settled for long shots, quick shots, instead of attacking it back off the dribble. We have to do that.”
Garnett agrees with his coach. He didn’t reference the fact that his team settled for long shots, but he did use the term “aggressive” several times while describing what he wants out of his team’s offense.
“Being aggressive, being more consistent with being aggressive, is something that I would point out that needs to be (done),” Garnett said.
The fact that the Celtics have lacked that aggression is disheartening to Rivers. He knows that his team possesses the talent to make the Knicks pay for their traps. He sees it every day during practice, but he hasn’t seen it during these games.
“I just wish we did a better job of taking advantage of it when they do trap [Garnett],” said Rivers. “That’s where I would say I’m the most disappointed with us offensively, because we work on it every day and we really haven’t taken advantage of their traps.”
Don’t be surprised if Rivers is at the other end of the spectrum in the near future. The law of averages has to come into play at some point. Good decisions by Garnett and Pierce will eventually lead to positive results. The Celtics are confident in that notion, and that’s why they’re going to continue to get the ball to these guys with the expectation of success.
“He’s not going to force anything. We know that,” Green said of Garnett in particular. “We’re going to feed him the ball and play off of that.”
Truth be told, that plan hasn’t worked very well over the past four games. Boston’s offense has officially been trapped.
The smart teams always find a way to wiggle out. That’s what the Celtics plan on doing Wednesday night as they attempt to take another step toward history.