Trust in the system, move beyond hero ball

Yesterday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies was in a word, ugly. Despite getting a 35-point, 8-assist night from Thomas, the team still went down hard behind a late Memphis surge.

The team went into the fourth quarter 76-68, with a good chance to grab the road W, but instead surrendered 33 points to the Grizzlies.

Not only were the Celtics out-rebounded, they just could not get their offense going. The C’s only made 6 of their 21 shots in Q4, a putrid 28.6%. Thomas (3/4 FG) and Bradley (2/4 FG) were the only consistent scorers, and let’s not even start with David Lee’s 0 for 6 in his 7 minutes of play (Q4 box score).

After the game, Avery Bradley sounded like the voice of reason, and kept a lid on things. “I won’t say I’m troubled, but the only reason I’m not is because I know it’s correctable. I feel like we need to keep our composure, and in the second half move the ball more.”

Bradley also pointed out one thing that has been a slightly worrisome trend: the penchant to move away from team basketball.

“I feel like the ball doesn’t move in the second half. It’s almost like everyone kind of plays hero basketball and we stop playing team basketball, and that’s not how the Celtics play. We’ll get back to it. I’m not worried about it.”

We have seen occasions when pressure mounts, and the need for points drives the team away from playing the way it needs to. The passing grinds to a halt, the ball gets stuck and we get treated to a fine display of 1-on-1 basketball.

Results justify the means, but the fact is that the team isn’t good enough to play isolation basketball.

Players need to move, the ball needs to flow, and they know it. 61.8% of the team’s field goals are assisted, a decent mark by any measure (Warriors 69.1%, Spurs 62.9%) but there is still a need for trust in team basketball.

We simply cannot afford to play hero ball. You can’t make a case for isolation ball, not when the defending NBA champions make more assists, even with an elite-level isolation player like Stephen Curry.


“I know everyone wants to win and play hard for one another. But I know that if we move the ball, we have a better chance at being successful every single time down on the offensive end, and we understand that, we’ll start playing the right way again.”

You know it, AB.


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