I watched the Celtics lose to Orlando last night and it felt like I was watching the bad old Celtics from the first half of last season. Just. Dreadful. Here is what I'm talking about.
Without Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum became the "play makers." Here is their idea of being a play maker. Pound the ball for five seconds or more at the three point line trying to create a driving lane. Then, put the head down and go the rim no matter that there are at least two help defenders waiting. Then, if you're Tatum, throw up your arms and beg for a call because the refs didn't bail you out. I am not exaggerating, Meanwhile, once these two start pounding the ball, the other teammates go to a designated spot along the perimeter and watch and (maybe) be a seldom used escape hatch.
Tatum and Brown cannot let themselves become black holes. They have to realize that play makers keep the ball moving. Pass and cut. Pass and cut. When the ball is moving, players move and that driving lane they were trying to create off the dribble opens wide when the ball is moving. And not only that, but help defenders won't know what to do.
The "good" Celtics are an unselfish passing team, getting easy looks and back door layups. The bad Celtics play "hero ball" with tunnel vision and no trust in their teammates. Coach Mazulla shouldn't let the "bad Celtics" happen, but I wonder if he sees it.
Here is how you defend the Celtics. Get up on Brown or Tatum whenever they get the ball. Bait them into driving to the basket. Once they put their head down, send multiple help defenders because you simply don't have to worry about them making a pass out of that play and no matter skilled they are, it is very hard to score at the rim against multiple long defenders.
Coach Mazulla doesn't know how to use his bench. Just putting bench players in the game is not enough. He needs to design plays and options that best take advantage of their skills. Instead, his directions to the bench players are, "play defense, pass the ball to our stars and stay out of the way. If the ball finds you, fine, but otherwise just space the floor." What a waste. I think they could have actions designed to get Sam Hauser or Payton Pritchard the ball for easy shots. Another player he doesn't know how to use is Luke Kornet. Sending Luke to stand in the corner on offense is a total waste. I don't know if Mazulla has noticed this or not, but Kornet is a good lob target off the high screen. He should be used that way more often. In fact, he should be used in the same way Rob Williams is used. Kornet isn't as quick but he's longer and has good anticipation and is a good shot blocker. Take advantage of that.
That's my rant. What do you think?