The Celtics couldn’t score during the second half of game one yesterday. Their offense had become far too predictable and isolation heavy.
The Celtics couldn’t generate anything–especially on the outside. The Celtics were 5-19 from the outside yesterday but still had a chance to win the game because of their defense.
The scoring problem has been something that has plagued the Celtics for quite some time. They’ve got always had one of the worst offenses in the NBA, but recent history says its been really bad and you never want that to stretch into the playoffs. Since March 1st the Celtics have only scored 104.3 points per 100 possessions.
This brings us to Jason Terry. Terry played 20 minutes yesterday and didn’t score a single field goal in that time. He remained scoreless in a time where the Celtics desperately needed offense from somewhere.
Terry had a disappointing month of April shooting 37% from the field and only scoring 8.5 points per game in 25 minutes of play per game. The awful stretch that Terry had last month has carried over into the playoffs at the worst possible time.
Terry’s inconsistent play has marred Boston throughout the regular season. This is Terry’s second month of shooting below 40%. He shot 37% in a 14 game stretch in December as well.
Yesterday, Terry’s minute total showed us more than the five shots that he missed did. The minute total indicated that Doc Rivers has a short leash on Jason Terry right now in the postseason and that Terry’s confidence is probably at an all-time low as a Celtic. He missed a lot of makeable shots in that stretch and didn’t make the defense pay at all. He was a non-threat on both ends of the floor and when that happens you don’t play in the playoffs.
So with that being said, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Rivers went with Williams over Terry down the stretch. I would be pretty skeptical of the move, but in the playoffs when your back is against the wall you have to take chances. This would be a huge risk that Rivers may be willing to take.
Williams hasn’t played much as a Celtic this season. He’s had great flashes as a backup point guard spell for Paul Pierce in the post-Rondo era and has shown flashes of being a capable defender in stretches too. The problem with that is that they’ve only been stretches and flashes. He’s played less than 18 minutes per game in his short stint as a Celtic this season. You don’t really want to take chances in the playoffs, but sometimes you have to. Its a game of adjustments at this point.
If Williams can play at his best in some short minutes for the Celtics, he could be effective. He doesn’t force the Celtics to try their hand at a zone when things break down. There are certain things that you have to do for Terry defensively while he’s on the floor in order to make him effective.
The Celtics have given the zone look when Terry was on the floor plenty of times this season, and while they are comfortable playing it, it isn’t something that they prefer to do. Terry gets lost on defense way too often otherwise and if his offense is suffering then he’s no longer a positive force on the floor. Rivers has every incentive to pull him and I think we saw that in game one.
Avery Bradley’s 35 minutes of play were way over his average of 28.7 minutes per game. Most of those minutes were Terry’s, but Bradley still has his own shortcomings as well. His production on the offensive end as a point guard is shaky at best. While he’s still developing into a natural point, Williams is a bit better than him at it at this point.
His ability to slash off of the ball and defend should keep him on the floor, but Williams could still provide someone to take Bradley and Pierce off of the ball and let them play their more natural positions–even though he wouldn’t be playing his natural position himself.
This isn’t to say that Williams is going to fix every offensive issue that the Celtics had in game one, because he won’t. But if Rivers is searching for a remedy right now Williams could be a step in the right direction.
Rivers likely won’t choose to go in this direction because of the prowess that Terry has in the postseason. His inconsistency with the Celtics is well documented, but that’s exactly what could keep him on the floor. Every player has a bad streak where there shots just don’t fall. Terry has had an awful month, but Rivers may just let him play through it. He has a history of trusting his players and trying not to disrupt things as a coach. That’s why it was such a shock when Bradley took the starting role over Allen last season.
Whatever Rivers chooses to do in game two is going to be pivotal. The Celtics need to gain homecourt at some point in this series if they want to have a shot at winning it. A lineup change could swing things in their favor.