The going was rough for Boston and Paul Pierce (2-of-12 from the floor) on Wednesday evening. - Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
The Boston Celtics are .500 during the young 2012-2013 season, and from afar that might seem like a wonderful thing for a team that has had to integrate a number of new faces. The Celtics took the court on Wednesday evening to take on the Washington Wizards in Boston, a team the Celtics beat for its first win of the season just days earlier.
Both of Boston's wins against Washington have been games that could have been easily won by Doc Rivers' squad. But these Celtics must enjoy making things difficult early in the season.
Obviously, that's not the truth. The Celtics are struggling right now to find a rotation that works wonders. Jason Terry has been struggling from anywhere on the floor, Jeff Green has not been anything close to what his contract dictates he should be and the front court rotation has been mediocre at best.
On Wednesday, Boston needed overtime to defeat one of the worst teams in the NBA. A.J. Price saw crunch-time minutes for Washington this season with John Wall injured. Kevin Seraphin looked like an assassin with his sights set firmly on the Celtics front court. So, what did the Celtics do well?
Paul Pierce shot an abysmal 16.7 percent from the field, but he snagged ten rebounds and helped the Celtics keep pace on the glass with the Wizards. Kevin Garnett pulled down 13 boards as well.
Overall, Boston ran 111 offensive plays on Wednesday evening. The Celtics shot 33-of-80, or 41.3 percent. As it has throughout the first few games, Boston continued to get out in transition as often as possible. The Celtics opened the fast break 17.1 percent of the time on Wednesday night and shot 8-of-13 from the field, or 61.5 percent. According to MySynergySports.com, that's an average of 1.32 points per play.
A majority of Boston's transition opportunities, and all but one of the converted attempts, occurred with Rajon Rondo on the floor. Rondo, Pierce, Bass and Sullinger did a good job getting out and running after a Washington miss, something the Boston coaching staff assuredly wants to see more of this season.
In addition to transition opportunities, the Celtics also found its offense through spot-up attempts 17.1 percent of the time on Wednesday night. Boston had 19 spot-up opportunities and shot 9-of-15 from the field, or 60 percent. That averages out to a 1.21 points per play on spot-up opportunities.
Out of the nine made field goals, Kevin Garnett converted two jumpers, Rajon Rondo converted two jumpers (one inside the arc, another beyond the arc), Jason Terry converted three attempts, and Brandon Bass and Jeff Green both scored once.
Boston's least effective offensive play (where at least five shots were produced) on Wednesday happened when the roll man on a pick-and-roll took shots. The Celtics shot just 4-of-12, or 33.3 percent, and only averaged .67 points per play.
Boston's starting lineup was only 6-of-16 in ten minutes played together and posted on offensive rating of 91.6.
The unit of Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Rajon Rondo, Jason Terry and Chris Wilcox posted the Celtics' highest offensive rating and played together for four minutes. Small sample size? Yes. Played against Washington players that weren't on the court during the final five minutes of the game? Absolutely. But that's an encouraging (and also pretty small) roster adjustment for a Boston team that badly needed the spark it provided.
The Celtics assuredly have things it needs to fix going forward. To be able to earn two wins early in the season would be encouraging for most teams. However, Boston's two wins came against Washington and happened in games that older Boston teams usually would have put away when it had the chance. But these aren't those older Boston teams. This is a team that is still struggling defensively. This is a team that is still working to gain chemistry. It takes time.
Now is not the time for Boston to panic. For a team whose success is so dependent on merely making the playoffs, the Celtics just need to get its feet steady and find out what it does best and execute. The chemistry will come with time, assuming one of the offseason acquisitions is not a leach to the overall chemistry of the team. The defensive intensity will improve, and as it does, so will Boston.