This really shouldn't surprise most people, but if the Celtics are going to have a downfall, it is going to be on offense.
Defense is, as usual, great. They started off poorly this year and still rank in the top 5 defenses according to NBA Stats (hey look, STATS). Since Avery Bradley returned, they rank second only to Indiana. That alone tells you all you need to know about their defense on the macro level. They get stops.
You have to go all the way down to the 22nd spot to find the Boston Celtics in terms of offensive rating. "But wait," you say, "they are better without Rondo, right?" Sure, they are ranked 21st since Rondo left. Huge improvement.
So, it's the offense. When the Celtics can limit their opponents with great defense, they give themselves a fighting chance to win the game. The problem is that you have to follow through on offense as well. Yesterday, they were able to limit OKC to their third lowest scoring night of the year and still managed to lose.
Doc wasn't happy with the way the ball stopped moving.
"Sometimes you want to win too much, and I thought that was us," Rivers said. "Jeff (Green), who always moves the ball, I thought the ball stuck with him. It stuck with Paul. Even Kevin (Garnett), which never happens. You know, that’s what good teams make you do sometimes. You want to beat them, and you kind of step outside of what you’ve been doing to win games."
Doc also wasn't happy with some of the shot selections. Specifically by Kevin Garnett - who missed 10 straight shots at one point, finishing 5 for 19.
"It was crazy," Garnett said. "I was telling Paul (Pierce) before the game that I felt good, my legs were under me. For whatever reason I just didn’t put a whole game together. As far as attacking, I thought I did that. I had a pretty good flow going early on; I just lost it for whatever reason." Said coach Doc Rivers: "I want him to be aggressive, but I want to get him better shots than he had. He did some open shots, but I think I have to do a better job of getting him better shots."
When it isn't working on offense, all the defense in the world is only going to win you just so many games. Against the best offensive teams in the league, it is going to be even harder.
We saw this in the playoffs last year. The Heat simply got on an offensive role and our offense couldn't keep pace. We added offensive players in the offseason in Lee,Terry, and Green and it hasn't mattered. We still can't score (enough) buckets - with or without Rondo.
We rely very, very heavily on jump shots, and while those shots are some of our players' best weapons, they are an inefficient and fickle way to score. (hmm, maybe my next stop on my stats education is to the shot charts) Doc does an admirable job of working the offense to give his players open looks in spots where they feel comfortable, but when they simply don't fall, what can you do?
Put together their top notch defensive rating with their below average offensive rating and you get a Net Efficiency Rating that ranks them 12th in the league (9th since Rondo was lost for the year). Does that mean that we have a ceiling of the 2nd round of the playoffs? Perhaps. But suffice it to say, the ball would have to bounce a few times in our favor for the Celtics to keep advancing in the playoffs and it would have to start on the offensive end of the court.