New-Look C's Should See Spike in Offense

WALTHAM, Mass. – There are a lot of NBA stat gurus who picked the Boston Celtics’ offense apart last season. They said the C’s were inefficient, that they played at too slow of a slow pace and that they couldn’t muster up enough points to keep up in this young, athletic league.

Don’t expect that to be the sentiment this season. At least not if Doc Rivers has his way.

Rivers has been preaching for years that he wants his team to get out and run. He wants them to score in transition, logging as many easy buckets as possible.

But just because he wanted that doesn’t mean he got it. As Rivers alluded to this afternoon, he just hadn’t been able to get his former teams to buy into the mindset of scoring on the break.

Courtney Lee

Many Celtics teammates and coaches are gushing about the skills Courtney Lee brings to the team.
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images

“We haven’t had guys that really wanted to run,” Rivers said.

Do you notice how he used the past tense? That immediately changed with the next sentence that happily rolled off of his tongue.

Rivers continued, “I think we have more of those guys now.”

That’s a fact. Courtney Lee is now in the fold. Jeff Green is back in the fold. Jason Terry has arrived, too, and we all know that he loves to score as many points as possible – it’s his modus operandi.

That trio of players will drastically alter the landscape of Boston’s offense this season, both in transition and in the half court.

Scoring on the break might be the most important area in which the Celtics need to improve this season. Easy buckets take stress off of the offense and they allow the defense to set up in the half court, something that’s vital while playing against teams like the Heat and Thunder.

Kevin Garnett used part of the second day of training camp to explain to his new teammates that easy buckets simply weren’t of the norm last season, and that such a trend must change this time around. “[Garnett] was like, ‘We didn’t get a lot of easy points, easy buckets. We had to work for everything,’ “Lee said of Garnett’s mini speech. “So that’s one thing I’m going to try to do on the offensive end, is to get out and run.”

Lee will run alongside Rajon Rondo to start games off, and then Terry and Green will step in to carry much of that load, too. The possibilities are just about endless, and the C’s are already having grand visions of what they’ll be able to accomplish while sprinting from one end of the court to the other.

“This training camp we’ve connected on a couple of fast-break points, so that’s going to be huge for us,” Lee said. “If we can get 10-12 points a game on transition, that’s huge.”

In addition to scoring on the break, Boston also plans to have a much more diverse offense in the half court. Last season, nearly everything went through Rondo. There’s a reason why he led the league in assists per game by a wide margin. He initiated everything and did a phenomenal job finding teammates for open shots.

The Celtics will continue to lean on Rondo’s playmaking this season, but there will be much less weight on his shoulders to dominate in the same fashion he did a season ago. As Terry explained, he and Lee will be there to help in that department.

“Now you have guys like myself and Courtney who can also handle the ball in pick-and-roll situations and can make it a lot easier on these guys,” said the former Sixth Man of the Year. “Usually Rondo has to get everybody involved and get everybody shots, whereas now he penetrates the lane, kicks it to us, now we can also create. It won’t just be a catch-and-shoot situation.”

In other words, Boston will now run an offense that features multiple actions. When you have the ball in playmakers’ hands on the second and third actions of possessions, good things are bound to happen.

With all of this in mind, it’s clear that the Celtics’ offense will be much more diverse than it has been in the recent past. It’s not because of a shift in philosophy, but more because of a shift in personnel. And it should be a shift for the better.