Jan 2, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers reacts during the second half of a game against the Memphis Grizzlies at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
The Celtics made a lot of notable moves in the offseason.
They were throwing money at guys left and right. Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and even the draft picks came in with very high expectations. Well, Boston has yet to live up to those expectations this season. They picked up a lot of pieces that were supposed to make them a top 10 team offensively, but they’re in the bottom 10 of the league in offensive rating and points per game.
The 14-17 record isn’t indicative of the talent that’s on this team. Rather, its more of an indication of what Doc Rivers has done, or hasn’t, really, this season. Rivers’ 2-3 motion offense hasn’t been effective this season more so than any other in his tenure with Boston and the Big 3. They’re very predictable offensively because of the use of their wings.
Per Synergy Sports technology 8% of the Celtics possessions are players coming off of screens and shooting. Paul Pierce is in the top 15 of usage percentage in the league with 28.4% of his plays resulting in a shot, a free throw, or turnover. He’s got way too much of a burden on his back right now and its showing.
The Celtics run a lot less pick and roll this season and its effecting the offense. I think this is Rivers trying to make sure to use the new tools that he was given this offseason. I think he’s got it backwards, though. He’s using the big 3 to compliment those players that he has instead of having it the other way around. He’s got to play the game in a style that’s going to adapt to his best player. That would be Rajon Rondo.
They’ve got to get him more involved and aggressive. Instead of having him just pass the ball to wings on flares and brushes, they should have Rondo cut hard to the basket and score points at the rim. For him to have a usage percentage of only 20 isn’t the direction that this team needs to go in. It needs to be higher so that the talent around him can flourish. Right now, the strategy that Rivers is using is taking Rondo out of the game at certain points.
Another problem with this Boston offense is that they play Rondo entirely too much. He plays 37 minutes a night with no back up point guard. When he comes out of the game the offense suffers and it shows. It doesn’t make sense for a player to be on the floor for that long and only have him passing the ball to guys off of screens. If there was another point in the lineup you could even play them together and have Rondo slashing off of the ball.
With Rondo slashing, that adds a presence to the paint. Even if its only the Celtics’ point guard, that’s better than nothing. Right now Boston needs a big that can dive to the rim and its showing. If Rondo is shooting in the paint,that will take eyes off of the shooters around him and they’ll have even more open looks.
Overall, Doc hasn’t been very good with the personnel that he has in this season. He’s too stuck in his ways and being too stubborn for this offense to evolve around Rondo. Will he snap out of it? Maybe. But if he doesn’t, it could cost the Celtics a playoff spot and blemish his clout as an NBA coach.