In the 2008 regular season the Celtics were the best defensive team in the NBA but they were also very good on offense as well. The Celtics team in 2008 averaged 100.5 point per game in the regular season which has never been duplicated in this big three era. Everybody has a theory for the Celtics recent post season losses from poor rebounding to the Perkins trade but real problem for the past two years has been an inability to score the basketball, particularly late in games. The Celtics had problems scoring late in game seven of the finals last year and went on extended scoring droughts in multiple games against the Heat this year. Lets take a closer look at the Lakers series last year.
Game 1: 89 point (loss)
Game 2: 103 points (win)
Game 3: 84 points (loss)
Game 4: 96 points (win)
Game 5: 92 points (win)
Game 6: 89 points (loss)
Game 7: 83 points (loss)
Analysis: As much as everybody blames rebounding and Perkins injury in game seven, remember that Celtics held a thirteen point lead in the third quarter. The truth of the matter is that the Celtics just couldn't score late in that game. Looking closer at the series the offensive issues go much further then one game. The Celtics failed to reach 90 points in four games during the Lakers series. What can we draw from that, well they lost all those games. When they were able to score at least 90 points they won.
So what about Heat series this year...
Game: 1: 99-90 (loss)
Game 2: 102- 91 (loss)
Game 3: 97-81 (win)
Game 4: 98-90 OT (loss)
Game 5: 97-87 (loss)
Analysis: Just like last year against the Lakers the Celtics had problems reaching the the ninety point plateau against the Heat this year. They only scored above 91 points once in the series and the game that they scored above 91 they won. You can make an argument that if the Celtics had a healthy Rondo the series might have went a different direction, but the fact is that Rondo wasn't really effective against the Heat before his injury. The Celtics did breakthrough with a 97 point performance in in game three but they were never able to copy that performance.The Celtics came out strong in these games scoring the basketball but could maintain it for a full 48 minutes. The story of the the series was that the Celtics could not score in the fourth quarter.
Conclusion: Defense wins championships but you have to have an offense to combat it. Chicago is the best defensive team in the NBA but there are the worst offensive team in the post season, that's why Miami is winning the series 3-1. In 2008 the Celtics played great defense but they had the offense to match it. The bottom line is that Chicago and Boston despite being great defensive teams do not have the offensive fire power to beat the Heat. For four years the Celtics have leaned heavily on their big three for scoring in the post season which did bring them a championship but, from watching this post season and last the the big three are unable to score at the the same rate late in games of years past. I believe Paul, Ray and KG can still be important contributors on a team, they just can't be leaned on as much late in games as years past.
For two years the Celtics have had problems scoring the basketball in the post season. If the Celtics are going to compete for a title next year there has to be a significant shake up. The mid level exception isn't going to fix the Celtics offensive problems. The Celtics need to get more athletic and younger. With the Celtics hard against the cap don't be surprised if Ainge moves Ray or KG to create cap space to sign young talent such as De Andre Jordan.