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MADRID – Boston’s “pace and space” offensive philosophy has typically been associated with the threeball. It may be time to reassess that connection.
Through two exhibition games, the Celtics are averaging a mind-blowing 63.0 points in the paint per game. Compare that to an average of just 41.8 points in the paint per game last season, which ranked 16th in the league, and it becomes clear that Boston is putting a heavy emphasis on getting to the basket.
“We need to attack the paint,” Brad Stevens said after the game. “We need to continue to take high-quality shots.”
While the guards have been the ones attacking the basket off of the dribble, Stevens says that the forward positions have also been an integral factor of this interior explosion.
“We have a lot of depth at the forward spots. We have a lot of skill at the forward spots,” he said. “That opens up driving lanes for our guards.”
One of those key forwards is David Lee, who has been nothing short of impressive during his first two games with the C’s. He tallied a double-double consisting of 13 points and 11 rebounds Thursday night, just 38 hours after logging 13 points and seven boards against EA7 Emporio Armani Milano.
“David Lee has brought a lot to our team,” Avery Bradley said of his newest partner in the starting lineup. “Not only leadership, but just making good plays, making the right play, the easy play. That helps everyone out there just feel comfortable and play without thinking.”
In addition to strong individual play from forwards and guards, ball movement has been a critical aspect of Boston’s interior scoring. The Celtics racked up 26 assists tonight and 31 assists Tuesday night. Teamwork, great passes and great cuts have been staples of their offense.
“The last two games I felt like we could move it, move it, rebound a little bit. Move it, move it, dump off and score and roll down the paint and at least draw attention,” said Stevens. “I felt like that was something we were going to be able to do. That's a good thing.”
What is the result of all of these factors? Offensive efficiency.
Boston is running circles around opposing defenses and consistently getting quality looks in the paint. If this trend continues, we won’t see the C’s rank in the top half of the NBA in 3-point attempts per game this season, as they did in 2014-15. Instead, we’ll be talking about one of the top teams in the league when it comes to interior scoring.