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The Boston Celtics are developing into an impressive offensive force

It's still early, but the Celtics offense sure looked impressive in the season opener against the Brooklyn Nets.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics have the highest scoring offense in the league!

Ok, so it's only been one game. We can also get excited about the Celtics being tied for the top seed in the East, but that ignores a few simple caveats, such as the other 81 games left to play or the fact that a certain super team from Cleveland has yet to take the court this season. Nonetheless, there are several reasons to be optimistic about how this offense is developing after the Celtics put up 121 points to trounce the Brooklyn Nets last night.

Boston got off to an incredible start in the first half by putting up 67 points on the Nets. The Celtics scored at least 100 points only 27 times last season (32.9% of their games), yet managed to get to 101 through three quarters in their first game of this season -- making it the first time since January 2009 that the Celtics had eclipsed 100 points through three quarters of a regular season game. The 121 points that they finished with was more than they scored in any game last season.

This offensive explosion was partially due to the Celtics picking up the pace. These teams played at the third fastest pace in the league (102.78) in this game, which has to be attributed to the Celtics controlling the pace considering Brooklyn ranked near the bottom of the league in that category last year. The extra possessions afforded to them by playing up-tempo did not take away from their efficiency, as Boston still scored 118.5 points per 100 possessions, which is second in the league behind the Phoenix Suns.

So what sparked this increase in offense? It all starts with Rajon Rondo.

The All-Star point guard made a surprisingly quick recovery from a broken bone in his hand to return in time for the season opener (apparently his decision to suit up was aided by getting in a good afternoon nap). It didn't take long for Rondo to remind everyone why he's one of the league's best distributors, as he racked up a dozen assists in just under 30 minutes. He finished just shy of a triple-double (13 points, 7 rebounds, 12 assists) and surely would have gone gunning for it if he hadn't been pulled mid-way through the fourth quarter, with the game well in hand.

It looks like Rondo is back to being himself again -- even if that's not always a good thing.

Rondo was 0-for-4 from the charity stripe. Some things never change. Still, it was good to see him attacking the basket and getting to the line.

The Celtics showed a lot of great ball movement, assisting on 57.1% of their made baskets. It wasn't all Rondo either, as everyone that played at least 15 minutes recorded at least one assist, except Avery Bradley. That contributed to a league leading 20.1 Assist Ratio and a 2.15 Assist/Turnover ratio that ranks 4th in the league, indicating they managed to take care of the ball while moving it around the court. Brooklyn turned the ball over nearly twice as many times as Boston, which was one of the keys to breaking open the game.

The advanced shooting stats support the notion that Boston played like an elite scoring team as well. Their True Shooting Percentage of 61.7 ranks 4th in the league and their Effective Field Goal Percentage of 60.2 is third. If Brad Stevens is looking to imitate elements of the Spurs pace-and-space offense, these numbers would indicate it's working, as they are right up near the top of the league with San Antonio.

So, is the Celtics offense really this good or was Brooklyn's defense just that bad? The answer is somewhere in between. Keep in mind that the Nets were playing without Brook Lopez, depriving them of a shot blocking threat to protect the paint. Kevin Garnett is sadly a shell of his former self in his 20th season and can only do so much to shore up a leaky defense. KG got the Boston crowd riled up by picking up a technical for barking at Kelly Olynyk, but the Celtics sophomore seemed unfazed. The old KG was notorious for rattling opponents, but this old KG may have lost a bit of his bite.

Boston is unlikely to keep up this league leading scoring pace, but they have shown promising signs of improvement from last year's 28th ranked offense. We should temper expectations after an outstanding start to the season, but while this may not end up being a playoff team, they sure look like they'll be an exciting young team to watch.

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