Before heading out on the mini road trip over the weekend, Boston was still trying to find a sense of cohesion and togetherness. With all the new additions, chemistry was and still is a problem the Celtics face, but during the second half of the game against Milwaukee, they finally began to click, offensively and defensively. There was rotation off screens, and the ball movement on the offense gave Boston easy shot opportunities. Some local journalists believe that this road trip was the best thing for the Celtics. But let’s take a more in-depth analysis on what Boston improved on and how fans should begin to feel some optimism heading forward.
Brandon Bass and Jason Terry in the starting lineup
A few hours before the game in Milwaukee, Doc Rivers made some changes in the starting lineup, moving Jared Sullinger and Courtney Lee to the bench, and having Brandon Bass and Jason Terry start. While in the first half there wasn’t much of a difference in terms of how the Celtics began the game, it was how they ended it which makes me think that Rivers has found the lineup that will play majority of the minutes.
Brandon Bass knows the system and played with Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett last year. His knowledge on the defensive end helps Boston in the pick and roll defense, and he knows where he’s supposed to be, which doesn’t cause confusion. Jason Terry supplies offense, and in the last two games when starting, he was much more in rhythm than when he came off the bench. His clutch shooting helped Boston close out Chicago last night, and Milwaukee on Saturday. Seeing the results from this road trip, especially last night, this is the lineup that will help the Celtics win games.
Jeff Green needs to be aggressive
Halfway through the fourth quarter against Milwaukee, Jeff Green turned up the intensity. He was more assertive on the offensive end and his defense was terrific. Kevin Garnett said in a post game interview that he needed to be (in cleaner terms) less nice and more aggressive, which I think being around Garnett, Green will learn to be more of a hostile type player than a passive, less intense player.
With the help of Paul Pierce, the Celtics defeated the Bucks, and Jeff Green was a major part of the victory. He stole the ball with less than a minute left in the game, and that pretty much iced it. Throughout this season, we’ll get an idea of how Green will play on a given night just by how he enters the game. If he’s aggressive early, he’s going to be a factor, if he’s not involved and passive, don’t expect much production and contribution from him.
Have the Celtics finally figured it out?
No doubt over the last six quarters Boston has played, including the second half against Milwaukee, the Celtics played much better both offensively and defensively. Chris Wilcox may be a big part of that. In the first five games of the season, Boston’s defense would be nonexistent when KG went to the bench. But since Wilcox started getting minutes, the Celtics have maintained or extended the lead which is crucial, because the bench is still trying to figure out how to play on the court as a unit.
During the championship year of 2008, the Celtics always considered their run for the title as a journey. It’s the same this year, the only difference is Boston will have to take a different path to get there. There are still a lot more growing pains for this team to endure, but with the roster Boston has, they have the right players to get past any obstacle in their way as they take one step closer to goal, which is to win a championship.