The Boston Celtics missed the NBA Finals by 1 quarter in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. They kept it close throughout the game until the fourth quarter came around. The Boston Celtics were outscored 28 to 15 in that final quarter to wrap up their NBA season.
During the off season, the Celtics picked up players who weren't afraid of the big moments such as Courtney Lee, and Jason Terry, however the fourth quarter still seems to be the one that eludes the Boston Celtics.
The Boston Celtics are one of the best shooting teams in the NBA. They rank 6th in field goal percentage at 45.8%, however, they rank 23rd in points, at just 94.6 points a game. Their attempts are rather low as well, only 27th in the NBA in attempts, at 79.9, but only 6 possessions separate 27th from 1st.
The Celtics shoot well, but they just don't score high numbers. When it comes to fourth quarter scoring the Celtics are ranked 26th in the NBA at 22.1 points in the fourth. The average fourth quarter margin of points for the Celtics in the fourth quarter is also rather low, at -1.3 points. That's ranked 27th in the league.
That's why there's no surprise when you see that the Celtics are 18-3 when they lead going into the fourth quarter, and just 2-18 when they don't. The Celtics just run out of gas once they hit the fourth, so the damage has to be done within the first 3 quarters. The only problem is that the Celtics average only 71 points through the first 3 quarters, which would still be ranked in the low twenties.
Paul Pierce is arguably the best clutch player on the team, (there can be a case for Rondo as well), but he's been going through an awful slump. His favorite shot selection in the clutch is his mid-range jumper, but those shots are only going in at a 33% clip. His 3-point shooting in the clutch isn't that bad, at 44%, but Pierce has only been shooting that at 15% for his last 5 games.
Solution? Put it in the hands of someone else, Rajon Rondo may not be a volume scorer in the clutch, but he shoots the ball at 43% in the clutch overall, Terry is at 37% but he doesn't get many touches in crunch time.
Late game execution is just something that hasn't been there for the Celtics. From botched plays, to turnovers, to missed shots, the execution isn't there. It's not like the Celtics have had many close games anyway, but out of the 6 tight games they've had that were decided by 3 points or less, they only have a record of 2-4. That's a 33% winning percentage. Last season they had 6-5 record in that category at a 54.55% winning percentage.
What are your thoughts? Should Pierce only take short spurts before playing in crunch time? Should more players be used to take the final shot instead of Pierce (i.e. Terry, Rondo)?