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We’re not old: Rivers trying to get Celtics to up tempo

Feb 14, 2012, 2:56 PM EST

Boston Celtics Rajon Rondo drives past Chicago Bulls Carlos Boozer in the second half of their NBA basketball game at TD Garden in Boston Reuters

For much of the season, Rajon Rondo has seemed to be a one-man fast break for the Celtics, pushing the ball up after a stop and then, if nothing is materializes, waiting until his teammates bothered to join him in the front court.

Boston is dead last in the league in pace (90.2 possessions per game, via Hoopdata) which is not what Doc Rivers wants. He wants his whole team to up the tempo, to get some easy buckets.

He got it Sunday against Chicago — 97 possessions. And he told ESPNBoston.com he wants to see more of that.

“I thought we played at a better pace today,” said Rivers. “You could see it: We were trying to run today. And that’s how we have to play. If we didn’t turn the ball over, we would’ve had far more points. But I just liked our pace and that’s all we talked about after the game in Toronto and today in our morning walkthrough — was enough of the walking.

“And it was not Rondo, it’s the team. The bigs have to run the floor. Paul [Pierce] and Ray [Allen] have to run the floor. And it does a lot of things: We get early posts from our bigs, we get jump shots from the break, and we get Rondo in the open court. And when you walk, it’s easy to guard.”

Boston is again one of the best defensive teams in the league — the best fast breaks come off good defenses (misses and turnovers). And good defensive teams that get a few easy buckets in transition become much harder to beat.

Boston isn’t going to run like Denver, but we’ll see if they can keep up even a modest pace increase over time.

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