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The Read & React: no Kyrie, big problem

With Kyrie Irving sitting out last night for rest, the Celtics got stymied without it’s best offensive player.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Chicago Bulls Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Sy: Last week, I wrote about how, because of the influx of talent (particularly Kyrie Irving as a pick-and-roll ball handler), the Celtics don’t have to pass the ball as much and can rely heavily on a single action to start the offense. Whether it’s a PnR with Irving and Al Horford or a dribble hand off with Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum, it doesn’t take much to start the defense rotating and sinking into the key.

Before last night, the Celtics had moved up to 12th in OffRtg (they fell to 14th after the blowout) and started to create an identity on that end of the floor. With Kyrie missing the game in Chicago for rest and the team battling fatigue on the second night of a back-to-back on the road, the team looked gassed against a suddenly hot Bulls team.

This was the most ball movement we saw all night and even then, nobody turned a corner or attacked the paint:

I don’t mean to pick on Terry Rozier because aggressiveness on the ball was an issue for everybody, but these clips just illustrate how tentative ball handlers were at attacking the rim. Sure, it’s unfair to compare them to Kyrie, but if the Celtics are going to be more of a pick-and-roll team vs. a read-and-react, pace-and-space team, they’re going to have to hit the paint more often:

Boston shot 40 three pointers Monday night and made only ten. That’s the third most attempts they’ve had all season in a single game but against Sacramento and Orlando, they hit over 40%. In a game like this, don’t concentrate on the misses. Look at the attempts and whether or not they’re settling. Last night, they were settling. The Bulls are big in the front court, but that shouldn’t prevent the guards from engaging Chicago’s shotblockers and kicking it back out.

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