Paul Pierce (who knows a thing or two about succeeding with super-talented teammates) had some interesting advice for the Celtics recently. (via NBC Sports)
“They got guys who are capable on this team of being 20-point scorers, but on this team that’s not going to happen. If you want to win, you have to sacrifice, you have to sacrifice. Some nights it may be your night, some nights it might not be your night. When me, Kevin (Garnett) and Ray (Allen) came along, I was averaging 25 points a game when they came. I said, ‘You know what? I don’t need to do that. They want to establish themselves. They want to make a name for themselves.’ Well, you make a name for yourself by winning.”
The current Celtics team needs some kind of Ubuntu type mentality to ensure that everything is pointed toward the overall good of the team. I don’t believe anyone is being selfish on purpose. But when you’ve tasted success, you tend to believe that you are the best option on most plays. But when you have so much talent around you, it makes more sense to move the ball around and let it find the hottest hand.
During Pierce’s heyday, the conductor of that ball movement was Rajon Rondo. Kyrie Irving isn’t the same kind of point guard and Brad Stevens relies on multiple ball handlers and offense initiators. So the responsibility is spread throughout the team. They all need to make more passes.
But the Celtics don’t want to be the low-pass team they’ve been so far, making a mere 283.7 passes per game, which places them 18th in the category. When asked earlier this season whether his club’s ranking bothered him, Stevens basically spit out his answer: “Just a little bit.”
Last year’s Celtics averaged 304.0 passes per game, and even that was on the low end for a Stevens team. During the Isaiah Thomas years, Boston topped out at 324.6 passes per game even though the star lefty was the clear focal point.
Ball movement always results in better looks, you just have to trust your teammates to make those looks and trust that you’ll get the ball back for your own looks. That’s something that comes in time and I think the Celtics are starting to get it.