USA TODAY Sports
Live by the jumper, die by the jumper.
Jay covered this very well yesterday in his article, but it was such a problem the other night that I thought it required a second look.
The Celtics are a jump shooting team and will be for as long as they have their current personnel - especially Pierce and Garnett. They will continue to live by the jumpshot and at times die by the jumpshot. That doesn't mean, however, that they should simply lie down and accept defeat when their jumpers aren't going in.
What should they do? Try getting into the paint more.
"Well, they scored in the paint, and we refused to go in the paint," Rivers said. "You know, we had an electric fence around the paint tonight. We just settled (for early outside shots), I thought. I mean, that's how you play when you don't, like, I don't know what the new word is, ‘bring it,' or whatever. What do you young people say? Whatever that is, we didn't have. And we settled. We took the easy shots. We didn't cut. We didn't space. We didn't run offensively.
"I thought we played six great minutes at the beginning of the game, played with a lot of energy, and then it just dissipated."
And it isn't just as simple as "being aggressive" and getting into the paint (though that does help). They have to look for better shots - even if those shots are other jumpshots.
"There’s nothing wrong with taking jump shots if you’re making them," Rivers said. "But you’ve got to have some kind of regulator on your team, and yourself, that if they’re not going in you have to go to your second and your third option, and look for a better shot. "I thought a lot of them (on Wednesday) were rushed early in the shot clock. I thought a lot of them were open shots, but they were marginally contested, and you can get a better shot."
I consider that the hardest thing that Doc could ask a team. Shooters are required to have no conscience. There's no regret, no self awareness allowed in a shooter's mind. Every shot is going in and if it didn't, well that was just an unlucky bounce and the next one is definitely going in. If you mess with that mentality, you start looking at a long shooting slump like the one Courtney Lee was going through at the start of the season.
So in my mind, the onus falls to Rajon Rondo to direct the offense. He dominates the ball, so he has the option of getting it to the right people in the right spots. Sure, a lot of those spots are going to be outside the paint because that is where this group of guys gravitates to. But it can't be just one pass and a contested jumper. We're talking more screens, more movement without the ball, and yes, more driving into the lane to hopefully force the defense to start collapsing in and giving our shooters much more breathing room.
The roster probably isn't going to change dramatically, so you have to work with what you've got. We can get better looks for our shooters and those shooters can keep defenses honest (and better spaced) if they make extra passes and dive into the lane more. Plus if we can get more drives out of Jeff Green, a healthy Chris Wilcox, a few extra non-garbage time minutes for Barbosa, and maybe we'll see a few more points in the paint. It can be done.
Oh, and yeah, it would help if more of those jumpers just happened to fall too.