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Celtics’ league-leading offense has been built on a foundation of trust

Jayson Tatum said that the Celtics have been “trusting each other.”

Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics Photo by Nick Grace/Getty Images

It’s been a great start to the season for the Boston Celtics, who currently sit at 9-3 on the year. Their success has carried over well from last season, but instead of dominating teams on the defensive end, they’ve been overwhelming opponents with their top-notch offense.

They dropped 131 points in their win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night, marking their seventh game this year with at least 120.

After the game, head coach Joe Mazzulla said that the team has done a great job of trusting each other and making the right plays.

“The cool thing about the offense to me is you have to be able to make each other better.”

Boston ranks 10th in assists per game this season with 26.3 per game, but they are third in assist to turnover ratio at 1.98. Mazzulla also credited the team’s point guards for initiating the offense at a high level.

In addition to their passing numbers, the Celtics are first in the NBA in points per game (119.8), second in field goal percentage (48.9%), and third in three-point percentage (39.1%).

Mazzulla has emphasized the importance of taking what the defense gives them. He said that “nothing good happens after the first shot’s passed up.” The coach then clarified that he meant “the first good shot,” but he noted that taking the first open look helps prevent turnovers and maximizes the potential of the offense.

Veteran big man Al Horford said that Mazzulla has done a great job of getting everyone organized on offense this year. He also explained that playing around Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart has been their game plan -- that, along with their deep pool of three-point shooters.

“I just think it’s an understanding of Jayson, Jaylen, and Marcus. It starts with those three guys. This understanding of what w’re trying to accomplish offensively. We want to put pressure on the rim we want to put pressure on the basket… We play inside out, we get those threes. It’s just the way our lineups are. We got five shooters out there.”

Tatum is putting up a career-high 31.4 points per game, Brown is averaging a career-high 25.3 points, and Smart is putting up a career-high 6.8 assists per contest. All three are putting together amazing seasons.

Horford, who had 21 points and a career-high six threes against Denver, also said that last year’s postseason run helped this Celtics team become a more connected group.

“The postseason really helped our group come together even more. We have an understanding with one another. How we want to play, the things that we want to do. I feel like it’s a carryover, but we want to continue to improve. Game by game this year, I feel like coach has done a great job of telling us things he wants to work on.”

The big man has taken on a slightly different offensive role than in years past, continuing the playstyle he took on in the playoffs. He’s taking most of his shots from three-point range (38 of 65 shots have been threes). Horford said that “it’s been a big adjustment,” but it’s something he’s worked on.

Meanwhile, Tatum echoed Horford’s sentiments about the success carrying over from last year. He said that the trust this Celtics team has on the offensive end is a big part of what makes them so special.

“I think just really building off last season. It’s night and day the way we’re playing [at] the start of this season vs. the start of last season… From the first day of training camp, just trusting each other. Trusting that whenever you move the ball, you know that it’s going to come back.”

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