The offseason/preseason had Celtics fans all over clamouring in excitement about the quality of offense, our lineup depth and how chemistry was being built during the Europe trip. Well now, it’s been 4 games into the season so far. With a 2-2 record, things aren’t looking too shabby.
However, there is a slight cause for concern if we looked closer at the games.
- v Miami (road): 107-120 (L)
- v Milwaukee (home): 88-99 (L)
- v Washington (road): 89-86 (W)
- v Washington (home): 100-94 (W) (OT)
The wins so far have come against the same team, the Washington Wizards who are missing two key players hampered by injuries, namely John Wall (left patella) and Nene Hilario (sprained foot). The victories however have not been easy ones, the latest win being a home game that was secured only in overtime. What exactly is wrong?
These four games played thus far, are showing up areas that could be legitimate concerns later in the season.
Here is a look at some of them.
Lack of backup point, Rondo’s minutes
Rondo has been playing a minimum of 40 minutes in each game so far (43, 40, 40, 44), something that could wear him down in the year long grind. The original solution (i.e. taking turns to bring the ball up) has not proven to be the answer; we can see Rondo’s scoring and creativity are needed on the court right now.
Time could quite possibly sort this problem out, but Rondo’s minutes should be limited regardless, if we want Rondo to perform at an All-Star level in the playoffs. That being said, Doc and his coaches would know when Rondo should be reined in.
Teething issues: new players
Preseason is what it is, and the games so far have shown the new Celtics to be in the process of adjustment. The Celtics’ offensive style takes time to learn, the defensive schemes even more so.
- The JET is clearly not comfortable running off screens and making shots the way Ray did, and is used taking his shots either in rhythm off the dribble, or as a set shot. On defense, he has proven to have slower legs, something the team defense will have to learn to compensate for when guarding Terry is matched up against quicker guards.
- After a preseason scoring barrage, Green is once again finding his way on offense. It feels like a lack of aggressiveness at this point. Also, he appears to be showing too hard on pick and roll defense. This results in his man getting open while he recovers from the hedge.
- Lee is somehow resigned to being a spot up 3 shooter at the baselines, when he has shown us that he can be so much more. The tenacious energy and hustle that was so impressive in the preseason somehow vanished. He seems to be struggling with the defense so far as well, which became very obvious when he was matched up against Wade, who resorted to backdoor cuts for the easy basket.
Note: I’m not saying the new guys are complete failures, but rather the fact that the sky high expectations we all had, should be adjusted. The entire process is definitely going to take some time. While this adjustment is happening, expect more of the above scenarios to happen. I am hoping that everyone gets onto the same page by the time All-Star weekend is over though.
Big Three shouldering the load
After that shaky loss to the Heat on season opener, the Celtics have gone back to the proven formula: namely, utilising the new Big Three of KG, Pierce and Rondo. In the past three games, the trio have account for half or more of the team’s scoring (40 of 88pts, 54 of 89pts, 53 of 100pts).
This strategy is definitely a step in the right direction, but the bench unit needs to step up and contribute much more in the way of offense. With KG’s limited minutes in the season, do not expect him to come out with 20 points every night. Pierce and Rondo are going to have nights when they struggle to score. Bass has been the quiet and steady performer, putting up numbers (10.2 PPG. 7.2 RPG) both as a starter and off the bench.
All that is left is for guys like JET, Green and Lee to step up.
Stay calm folks, let’s keep faith in our guys in green and keep on cheering for that banner #18!
What do you think of the season so far? Feel free to share your thoughts too.