LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17: Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics stands on the court in the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Here are some thoughts on this year’s Celtics. They are enhanced by some observations by another NBA team’s (anonymous) official. I wanted to see how other teams viewed the Celtics offense and certain players. Remember this is primarily looking at how other teams see weak spots to exploit in our Men in Green.
Initially, I was going to do separate articles built around each observation. But free time has been rare for me and the new season kicks off today with Media Day. So it might be good timing to just lay the comments out there with a comment or two of my own. You guys can take it from there.
There are a few interesting observations and a number of others that really reinforce what is already established. What frequently comes out is that the concept of ‘spacing’ at both ends of the floor is paramount on coaches' minds.
First – The Celtic offense generally. The team official’s comments are first and in italics.
Scout: As is well known, you make the other team’s poorer shooters beat you so we let Rondo have that jump shot and sag the middle.
Ok. No news flash there. Call it Rondo’s burden. Though it hasn’t always shown up in the stats, we have seen improvement in Rondo’s jumper each year. And he has shown a knack for making some big ones at the end of a shot clock.
More on Rondo –
The thing is to keep Rondo out of the paint where he causes real damage. Because he still doesn’t hit free throws well and to make him think twice about going in, some hard fouls are the way to go. A few hard fouls can sometimes make him more reluctant to drive.
Again, I don’t know that this news, but it reinforces current perceptions. If Rondo starts to hit free throws even in the 70% range, that strategy might have to change. In the meantime, when you see Rondo hit the deck on a drive, you will know why. Those hard ones on Rondo aren’t accidental.
Paul Pierce –
Paul Pierce is still the toughest Celtic to defend and their most dangerous scorer. It is no secret why they go to Paul at crucial times. He flies below the radar, but I see him not too far below Kobe as a clutch scorer. His game has dropped off a bit, but he is still one of the best in the game when you need clutch scoring.
Sometimes we forget that Paul is still a triple threat when he has the ball in his hands. He can drive, fake in and step back and hit the mid range, or hit from the arc. And he can still draw fouls fairly well. I will say that I don’t think that he gets the foul calls that he used to, especially on drives.
I think he will have to return to rebounding more this season. And those end of quarter freelance iso’s should involve other players more as he did at times with KG running successful pick and pops.
If he gets others involved a bit more, it accomplishes the other team’s goal by getting the ball out of his hands. But it will help other Celtics learn to take and hit clutch shots and make Pierce and the Celtics harder to defend as the season goes on. One player that might work with is Nate Robinson, who has finished quarters for Doc before. Can he be turned into a secondary clutch shooter at the end of quarters?
While others have noticed that the ball sometimes sticks to Paul’s hands too much, I also notice that he often tries to get the ball to Perkins or Davis underneath.
Ray Allen –
He is the one player you remind your players to never, ever leave alone. You don’t help off Ray Allen. Let someone else help out. Leaving Ray is a cardinal sin. (paraphrase) That is why just having Ray on the floor is so helpful for the Celtics. If he isn’t hitting the three, he can find other ways to score.
If Miami ever got him that would have helped them a lot.
There is the concept of spacing again and its importance to creating effective offense. It explains why having Ray on the floor, even if he is not hitting, still has a positive effect on the 5 man group. That is why he was used with the second unit so often.
Ray is still in great shape, has avoided major injury, and played in 73, 79, and 80 games as a Celtic. There is no reason why he can’t do it again. Of course, I hope I didn’t just jinx him.
Shaquille o’Neal –
He will help with size and rebounding for the Celtics, which was a weak point last season. But I will say….we liked seeing Shaq on the court.
And that is what some are worried about. Shaq used to cause happiness for the opposing team when he went to the bench. Not he does the same when he enters the game. Unless you have been living on the moon for the summer, even my dead grandmother, who knew nothing about basketball when she was alive, now knows that Shaq can’t defend the pick and roll. But then our scout added….
But with Shaq coming off the bench and playing against second string centers, he should eat them up. Second line big men for most teams aren’t very good and I can see him having a field day against them. This should be a productive fit both the Celtics and Shaq.
Jermaine O’Neal –
Jermaine should be healthier than he has been in some time. If he is, he could be the surprise pick-up for the Celtics this off season. I think he may surprise everyone with a better game than you think he has at this point.
That would be nice. Seeing as how he is still relatively young and at one time had a formidable game, it would make it worth Danny spending the whole MLE on him. Jermaine has been talking about the Celtic team spirit and lack of egos on the Celtics as to why he came here.
That is a good sign and he can be a long, tough defender in the middle while hitting a reliable mid range jumper at the other end. Possibly related to his injuries, Jermaine has disappointed at his previous two stops. Like Shaq, this may be the right place for him.
Glen Davis –
In addition to the quote that opened yesterday’s Glen Davis article, our scout added this…
Glen is not a main focus in planning against the Celtics. He is like.... the 5 or 6th guy talked about. You just want to contain his energy and don’t let him get going and get the crowd into it.
Back to the Celtics offense generally…
The starting five isn’t the problem. They don’t need to change much. It is the bench they need more from.
Celtics Need a Stretch Four?
And one last comment that caught me a bit by surprise…
The Celtics don’t really have a stretch 4 (power forward). They are missing a player like that. They could use one. Garnett’s a jump shooter but his range seems a little shorter now and Davis isn’t one. Rasheed Wallace was supposed to be that guy last season, but that didn’t really work out.
Hmmm…With KG’s 15-18 foot jumper almost automatic (when he is healthy), I never really thought about that. You might say the Brian Scalabrine was ours, but he didn’t play much.
That makes me start wondering if the Celtics do need that and who might that player be?
The Cs drafted Luke Harangody. He fits that profile. Glen Davis could learn to shoot from the arc as well, I guess. KG is NOT stepping behind the line.
Players from other teams that come to mind, that might be available at some point this season– Charlie Villanueva, Troy Murphy, Matt Bonner, Yi Jianlian, Tayshaun Prince, Marvin Williams, Andres Nocioni.
The bigger question is do the Celtics see it that way? It is an interesting thought in any event.
So that ends some quick takes from ‘enemy lines’ with a few follow up thoughts. Each could initiate an article by itself. The thoughts on Pierce, the O'Neals and the 'stretch four' comment I found the most interesting. Your own thoughts?
Training camp begins today and Doc will start to piece together the 2010-11 Celtic strategy to attain another NBA title. I even like the sound of that.