C's Offense Continues Surging During Blowout of Blazers

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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Boston’s defense has been one of the best in the NBA all season. If its offense ever catches up – watch out.

With that being said: you’d better be watching.

The Celtics on Saturday scored a season-high 145 points in Portland during a 145-117 rout of the Trail Blazers. That scoring effort arrived less than 24 hours after Boston tallied 130 points during a narrow loss to the Jazz in Utah.

These two games mark the first instance in the past 31 seasons that the Celtics have scored 130 or more points during consecutive games, per our Taylor Snow. Even more impressive is the fact that they just accomplished that feat on back-to-back nights, which says a whole lot about the type of rhythm the offense is in right now.

“It’s about time that we as a group, on the same night, hit some shots,” said Jayson Tatum, who, along with Dennis Schroder, scored a game-high 31 points Saturday night. “I know that’s something we’ve been waiting for.”

And finally, it has arrived.

Boston’s shooting splits were absurd Saturday night. The team shot 56.3 percent from the field, 56.8 percent from long range, and 89.7 percent from the free-throw line. Believe it or not, all three of those percentages were actually better than the numbers Utah logged against the Celtics Friday night, when it felt as if everything that left a Jazz player’s fingers was falling through the net.

To Boston’s credit, they nearly matched the Jazz during Friday’s matchup as well. Boston shot 51.6 percent from the field, 35.9 percent and 100 percent from the free-throw line, compared to Utah’s clips of 55.6 percent from the field, 52.9 percent from long range, and 87 percent from the stripe.

According to the Celtics, there are two catalysts behind their offensive surge: pace and driving to the basket. Head coach Ime Udoka said following Saturday’s win that the former is a strong area of focus right now for the team.

“The pace,” he said of what has changed offensively the last two nights. “That’s the first thing that we really started to talk about going on this road trip was just up our pace.”

The use of the term ‘pace’ in this instance not only describes Boston getting the ball up the court quickly from defense to offense, but also quick and decisive ball movement in the half court, which keeps defenses on its heels.

Boston came out of the gates Saturday night and excelled in that category during the first quarter. It scored 38 points while hitting 14 of its first 15 shots. The team logged eight assists during the first quarter alone.

The pace and ball movement lacked during the second quarter, however, which led to a significant drop in production. The C’s logged only 26 points on 41.7 percent shooting during the second quarter, and that led Udoka to deliver a reminder to the team during the halftime break.

“What I said to the guys at halftime and on the bench is, ‘You can see the difference, where in the first, second and third quarter when the ball is moving, less holding, less isolation,’” he recalled. “We see it as coaches. I said, ‘I’m not crazy out here. I see it. You guys gotta feel that too.’”

Boston got back to what worked after the break as it pulled away for the runaway win. The C’s scored 81 points during the second half alone as they pulled ahead by as many as 31 points. The pace of the offense was outstanding, but the team also put an emphasis on driving to the basket.

The Celtics applied so much pressure to Portland’s defense that they got the line for a whopping 23 free throws during the second half alone. They cashed in on 21 of them. Overall on the night, they shot 26-for-29 from the stripe.

This performance came one night after the team shot a perfect 22-for-22 from the line against the Jazz in Utah.

“All of our guys were in attack mode, getting downhill,” Udoka said. “We talked about not settling all the time and playing for your teammate [instead of] isolation. That’s what we saw there with the aggressiveness of all our guys, but that’s really what’s improved over the last 10, 15 games with us, is getting downhill and getting to the free-throw line, and that continued tonight.”

Note that Udoka said 10 or 15 games, not just two. Some may not have been noticing the fact that Boston’s offense has been climbing the charts for a while now.

Over the team’s last 10 games, dating back to Nov. 17, the Celtics rank sixth in the league in offensive rating. That’s a good sample size, and one that indicates that Boston’s offense can be elite.

The NBA already knows that Boston’s defense is elite. The offense is slowly catching up, so like we said: watch out.