clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Halftime Hot Takes: The importance of ball movement

In the first half, the Celtics built a big lead with ball movement and fumbled it away as the offense stagnated

NBA: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

We are underway in Chicago this evening, with the trailing the Chicago Bulls by 11 points as they seek to start their season with a fourth consecutive win. This has been a weird one; the Celtics looked absolutely unstoppable in the early going, leading by as much as 19 points behind the duo’s torrid start, only for the lead to bleed away early in the second quarter on the back of a nearly quarter-long run that brought Chicago back into the fold. The Boston defense looked suspect, while Chicago’s found its edge, and the game took a remarkably sharp narrative turn in a hurry.

That said, it’s still early, and we’re starting to get an idea of what is going to make this team tick. The offense has the look of something special, in no small part due to their pristine ball movement. The Celtics recorded an assist on 15 of their 20 first-half buckets, and at their best, the ball was flying around the court and finding the right looks. They piled up 39 points in the opening quarter and looked every bit the offensive juggernaut we’ve seen through the preceding three games.

Jayson Tatum in particular roasted the Bulls on a pair of razor-sharp cuts right out of the gate.

The second quarter brought about plenty of issues. Noah Vonleh racked up four personal fouls in just five minutes of play time, and Malcolm Brogdon didn’t have much to write home about during his first shifts in the game, either, as he went a team-worst -24 in the first half. The defense eroded, the rebounding remained suspect, and the result was an improbable double-digit halftime deficit. But worst of all, the offense stagnated; the Celtics simply could not string together consecutive buckets for much of the quarter, and nobody quite seemed to be on the same page.

So, the Celtics have a hole to dig out of. They’re on their heels, and the Bulls have the momentum. This is what the early season is for, though — confronting weaknesses and finding answers. It’s eminently clear that this team is at its best when players are passing and cutting with confidence and purpose. It’s up to Mazzulla and the players to rediscover that first-quarter magic in the second half as they fight to remain undefeated.

As the second half kicks off, what do you want to see corrected from the Celtics tonight? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Celtics Blog Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Boston Celtics news from Celtics Blog