They shoulda got a rebounder at the deadline. Danny Ainge sucks they should fire him. If they only had a better rebounder they wouldn’t lose these games. Sound familiar? Certainly all Celts fans have either been making these statements themselves or seeing and hearing them from other fans or media pundits in the last two weeks or so. The need for a rebounder and the criticism clinging to Ainge like Michael Cooper used to cling to Bird both seem to be the proverbial punching bags of the moment Cs fans are using to help manage the pain associated with watching something like the debacle Monday evening versus Atlanta.
As popular as these views may be does not necessarily make them correct or accurate. It appears to me that the Celtics willingly and in a fully aware state decided a couple months ago that the best way to win the most games right now is to be the most efficient offense they possibly can and try to outscore other teams.Danny Ainge even stated very clearly that he did not want to add a rebounder that would hurt Offensive Efficiency (translation: he doesn’t want a big body that can grab boards but can’t score outside of six feet from the rim). I’m not arguing whether this is the right or wrong strategy but rather simply that this is the strategy. They know they need more rebounding but are not willing to damage the offense to improve the rebounding stats.
So, let’s get back to this four game stretch of ugliness which did include a win at Detroit aided by the Pistons misfiring on quite a few free throws for an NBA team. The Celtics rank 8th in the NBA in Offensive Rating. The Celtics trail only Golden State in 2nd Half Points/Game and Percentage of Field Goals Assisted.In the last four games the Celtics offense has deteriorated notably and I contend that this is the primary reason why they look ugly right now.
During the very impressive 24-8 stretch we saw there was an ugly loss versus Sacramento tossed in. In that game the Celts shot only 39. 7% from the field, had just 18 assists, and coughed up 17 turnovers.The offense was sloppy and they didn’t generate easy buckets and wide open 3PT attempts like they are capable of doing.
When the Cs are on you will see the FG% in the mid to upper 40s and the assist numbers in the mid to upper 20s along with less than a dozen or so TOs. This tells you they are moving the ball very well and getting good shots. In these last four games the TOs have been above average, assists below average, and the FG% over that stretch lower than average for the team.
So who is to blame and can it be fixed?It looks to me like two players in particular have looked quite a bit less comfortable than they have all season. Al Horford has underperformed all year but most recently, just as the coaching staff clearly tries to get him more involved, he seems to be really pressing and shooting quite poorly. As teams confront IT4 with very aggressive tactics and fouls to rattle him…. it seems to be doing just that. To me Isaiah has made more errant passes and bad shot selections in the last four games than he has the entire season combined.
All is not lost despite Cleveland coming to town Wednesday night. There is plenty of time to get back on track regardless of what happens Wednesday night. Ball movement and Offensive Efficiency are the best weapons the Cs have right here and right now. Use those to their potential, let it ride, and see how far they can take this season.