C's Offense has Flipped the Script After Stagnant Start

CHICAGO – Offensive consistency – or lack thereof – may have been Boston’s biggest issue during the first 18 games of the season, as it got off to a 9-9 start while owning the fourth-worst offensive rating (104.3) in the NBA.

Over the last six games, however, offensive consistency may have become Boston’s biggest strength.

Dating back to Thanksgiving weekend, the Celtics have possessed the best offensive rating in the league (118.5), and have five wins, including four straight, to show for it.

So, what’s caused the complete 180 on that end of the court?

“Everybody is starting to play together," answered Marcus Smart ahead of Saturday morning's shootaround in Chicago. “There’s just more ball movement. And it’s a good sign because everybody is smiling, everybody is actually having fun on the court now and not really worried about stats or anything like that. We just go out there and we worry about winning.”

While the Celtics are not worried about individual stats, it’s worth pointing out a team statistic that backs up Smart’s claim about better ball movement. Through the first 18 games, the Celtics averaged just 275.1 passes per game, ranking them 25th in the league in that department. Over the last six games, Boston has dished out 327.0 passes per game, which is good for fifth in the league during that stretch.

That’s a stat that coach Brad Stevens can get behind.

“Well, we needed to be better at moving it, be better at getting to spots quicker,” said Stevens. “I think that part of it is probably pace, and part of it (like Smart said) is getting better at playing together.”

As to why the C’s weren’t playing as well together before – well, they just hadn’t begun to form their identity yet.

“I think every team has to go through some type of tough time; this one was just ours,” said Smart. “Everybody’s story is different, every team is different, so what other people go through, we might not have to go through and vice versa.”

While it wasn’t the most enjoyable experience, going through that adversity has undoubtedly made the Celtics stronger as a unit.

“I think that we’ve just been doing a great job of trusting each other,” said Kyrie Irving, “having everybody touch the ball during certain possessions, being aware of what the defense is trying to take away from us and then taking advantage of our mismatches.”

As a result, the Celtics have seen a massive surge in scoring.

Through the first 18 games, Boston had averaged just 106.0 points per game, with 54.8 of those points created from assists. Over the last six contests, the C’s have put up a league-high 119.3 PPG, with assists leading to 71.2 of those points.

They’ve also scored at least 115 points in four consecutive contests, marking the longest such streak since 1990.

And Jaylen Brown believes that this is only a taste of what is yet to come.

“I think having more offensive cohesion helps on the defensive end and vice versa, so I think we’re going to start playing some really good basketball in the next couple of weeks,” said Brown. “We’ve still got a tremendous upside, so we’re just going to try to keep growing and improving each and every game.”

The C’s will look to continue their offensive – and overall – development Saturday night, when they take on the Bulls at United Center.