After Offensive Breakthrough, C's Seek Sunday Sweep

New York, NY – In terms of recent performances, the Celtics’ 113-96 win in Game 3 over the Knicks was a breakthrough of sorts for the team’s offense, which has struggled at times to find its rhythm since the late season roster shakeup.

And while a 3-point shooting gallery made the Celtics look unstoppable last night, there’s a little more to it than just jacking up long-range bombs. The success of the Celtics’ offense typically hinges on the play of Rajon Rondo, and when your All-Star point guard posts a crazy triple double with 20 assists, you can safely say the ball is moving – as a team, the Celtics had 31 assists -- and the offense is humming.

But what’s become clear over the last few weeks is that the cohesion between Boston’s big men and their scoring threats hasn’t always been there. Simply put, the NBA is a pick-and-roll league, but if you aren’t setting good picks and screens for your weapons, they won’t have the same opportunities to light up the scoreboard.

In other words, when the Celtics bigs are picking, the Celtics offense is clicking. Coach Doc Rivers said he could see it clear as day in his Saturday morning film session with the team when they watched tape of Game 3.

“You can see our bigs were spreading across the court just to get a piece of a man to get them open,” Rivers said.

The results were impressive, as Paul Pierce and Ray Allen found themselves open seemingly all night long, and they combined for 70 points. Said Rivers of the improved picks and screens from the Boston bigs, “They realized what they had going, and so instead of recreating the wheel, they just stayed with it.”

If there is any aspect of the Celtics attack they still want to rethink, it’s the continued lack of production from the bench. Second unit players combined to score just 13 points in Game 3, 14 points in Game 2 and just eight points in Game 1.

“It’s something I've got to do. I’ve got to get them playing right,” Rivers said of the bench’s postseason struggles. “I always think it’s twofold when a group of players [struggles]. Number one, they’ve gotta play better. Number two, the coach has to do something better. We’re searching.”

In the meantime, the focus is squarely on Game 4, and everyone was echoing the same idea on Saturday. You can’t worry about the sweep, you just worry about winning the game on Sunday.

“We’re not focusing on the number of wins. We’re just focusing on one win,” Rivers said. “Close out games are tough so we’ve just got to focus on us.

“Winning is hard. Especially when you see the same team. It’s a hard thing to do. It would be great to do it. We can’t focus on any of the history or the past. We’ve got to focus on this one game.”