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As Celtics offense falls off map they search for an identity

Dec 19, 2012, 11:53 AM EDT

Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics Getty Images

It’s been this bad — in the last 10 games the Celtics offense has averaged 96.9 points per 100 possessions (via’s own stats), which over the course of the season would be 29th in the NBA. Barely better than what’s left of the Wizards. At the other end, Boston’s defense has been inconsistent (it was not good against Chicago Tuesday, it had been better in general of late).

The result is a 12-12 team that is the current eight seed in the East. The Celtics right now are average.

Who are the Boston Celtics right now? A defensive team that likes to run and has great shooters? It doesn’t show and they look like a team searching for itself.

I’m not ready to start shoveling dirt on the Celtics yet, we did that early last season and they pulled it all together for a very good playoff run. But the hole is dug and they seem to be lowering themselves into it this season.

To me the issues start on offense. What leaps out of the statistics in the last 10 games is that while Boston is not shooting terribly well, they are really getting hurt by a lack of offensive rebounding and turnovers. Both of those have been long-standing issues for the Celtics, but ones they were able to overcome in the past by knocking down shots and getting to the free throw line. However Boston is pretty average to slightly below average in their last 10 games in shooting and free throws, which is not enough to cover up the flaws.

Boston turned its offense more over to Rajon Rondo this year and Doc Rivers told A. Sherrod Blakely he thinks Rondo is trying to do too much.

“He’s trying to do too much; forcing it instead of letting the ball find the scorer,” Rivers said. “It looked like Rondo was trying to make the play every time down. You know, that’s tough to do. And it’s not good for your offense anyway. He understands that.”

Frankly, I’m not worried about Rondo getting his groove back. Or for that matter Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce contributing well now and better late in the season and the playoffs.

But the bench is another issue — Boston thought they were adding depth this season but Jason Terry is not playing as big a role in the offense as he did in Dallas, Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee have struggled, and Jeff Green has been the guy Oklahoma City was willing to trade (he teases you with flashes and a good game or two, then reverts to form). Rivers is throwing everything, every lineup he can think of against a wall but nothing is sticking. Not consistently.

Which comes back to the identity question. Boston has always been a defensive team, but they just gave up a triple-double to Joakim Noah. Not Derrick Rose, but Joakim Noah. Rivers and Pierce said after Tuesday night they are still searching to see who they are, as reported by Blakely at

“This team is not a good team right now,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers whose team is now 12-12 on the season. “It’s who we are right now. We’re a .500 team and we play like that. We’ve won two games in a row for the season. Right now, we’re not a good team. We’re going to find, but not right now. We’re going to keep searching for it.”

“Right now we have no identity,” said a visibly disappointed Paul Pierce following Tuesday’s loss to the Bulls, their third straight. “We’re supposed to be a defensive team. But giving up 100 points every night, we’re inconsistent on the court … we’re still searching, trying to find out who we want to be for this season.”

More than 20 games in, that’s not good. Especially in an East where the Heat know who they are (even if they don’t execute it nightly) and the Knicks have figured themselves out.

Boston has a long way to go to reach their goals. But we said that about them last season.

  1. lucidsportsfan - Dec 19, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    Their defense was starting to look better a week ago, but it may have just been because they were playing teams that couldn’t score.

  2. bigwii - Dec 19, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    As a Celtics fan I thought this team would be a lot better than last year with the type of bench they have but you can’t play small all season and expect to do do well in the playoffs they NEED a legit big man and since Big Al is available they should bring him it bring up Fab Melo and see what he can do

    • hehateme2 - Dec 19, 2012 at 2:53 PM

      Well… the wheels have fallen off even sooner than I expected. No wonder all they have left is talk.

    • eventhorizon04 - Dec 20, 2012 at 12:07 AM

      You’re right the Celtics need a big-man, but the Celtics don’t really have trade-able assets that the Jazz would be interested in.

      Put another way – what pieces could the Celtics trade that would equal a 18 pts-10 rbs per game Center like Al Jefferson?
      Jazz don’t need a big man, so Sullinger is out (and he’s struggling anyways).
      Green and Lee would be of some interest to the Jazz, but they’re both struggling as well.

      KG, Pierce, and Rondo are virtually untradeable.
      Terry is too old to interest teams.
      Bradley is part of the backcourt of the future for the Celtics, and I doubt they’d trade him.

      Etc. Go through the list, and the Celtics don’t have much to offer Utah.

      And Fab Melo is raw on offense and has spent his college career playing zone defense. He could be big down the line for the Celtics, but right now, he’s not ready to contribute. He was drafted for “potential,” not for his ability to help this year.

  3. raidmagic - Dec 19, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    Yep it was a mistake trading Davis for Bass. He would be so helpful on that team right now.

  4. pantsfreezone - Dec 19, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    I’ll tell you what Boston’s identity is: 7/8 seed and one and done like I’ve been saying since they made some of the worst offseason moves for a team done competing for the chip. The Lakers are old and slow, but they have rebounding and scoring. The Celtics are old and slow and can’t rebound nor score, they rely far too much on jumpshooting, illegal screens and phantom foul calls to keep them in games.

    In a phrase “Stick a fork in the C’s.”

  5. ajsjr40 - Dec 19, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    Pierces legs are shot. He has no lift and it shows around the rim and on his jumper.

  6. paulhargis53 - Dec 19, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Go ahead and sleep on this team. it would figure that it is Heat fans chirping.

    You guys sure worry a lot about a team that is toast don’t you?

    • manchestermiracle - Dec 19, 2012 at 8:15 PM

      Take a long look in the mirror. Coming from someone who trolls every Lakers post, that’s pretty rich.

      • bozosforall - Dec 19, 2012 at 11:51 PM

        Pudhummer53 is the biggest joke here. All he wants for Christmas is a new pair of knee pads and loads of Chapstick so that he can continue to service the entire Puh C’s team orally.

    • 00maltliquor - Dec 20, 2012 at 9:09 AM

      I can’t believe I’m reading this! Coming from you of all people! OMG this is classic, the irony is phenominal.

      • Foul Dwimmerlaik - Dec 21, 2012 at 7:44 AM

        LOL! My thoughts too. What’s sauce for us ganders should be sauce for the goose as well.

  7. bkell2012 - Dec 19, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    I,m a Celtics fan and I don’t like the direction they are going in. The fact is they are getting older and those jump shots are coming up short more often now than a couple years ago. They have to go out and pick up a player who can give them a few points out of the post and a banger on the boards. Doc is one of the best coaches in the NBA but he doesn’t have the pieces in place to do his thing. Our defense is suffering because of old legs as well. Jason Terry was a really good player but his age is a factor as well. Garnett and Pierce are still above average players but they need some good young players to go with them and give them a breather more often. Rondo needs some youth to run the floor with him.

  8. progress2011 - Dec 19, 2012 at 6:39 PM

    You know, I truly cheered for Garnett to win a chip. I also “used” to want to see Rondo succeed. I still admire Doc and will always want to see him win.

    HOWEVER, since going to Boston:

    Garnett has become an ‘ITCH and so has his little crony Rondo !

    Most dudes from the North East flap their gums waaaaaaay to much and they all irritate the HAIL outta me, especially when they can’t back it up!

    Kinda like when Rondo called himself coming to Garnetts defense and pushed Kris Humphries and Kris undressed him and “shanked” his shirt over his head……ahahahahaha

    Then Rondo walked out of the squabble as if he’d done something….after getting dusted off…ahahahaha

    Doc needs to leave that place! The attitudes of the city, state and team don’t represent the type of humble, eloquent and distinguished gentleman he is.

  9. boyshole25 - Dec 19, 2012 at 8:44 PM


    • progress2011 - Dec 20, 2012 at 2:32 AM

      What kinda nasty creep are you, with a name like that !

      Dude, if you are bored on this site, I’m sure you can find something else to do….

      Start by turning yourself in to the authorities !!!!

    • 00maltliquor - Dec 20, 2012 at 9:12 AM

      Sandusky….is that you?

  10. paulhargis53 - Dec 19, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    Yeah, I do. Because of turds like you.
    Still predicting a finals appearance?

    • bozosforall - Dec 19, 2012 at 11:53 PM

      FIVE titles for the Lakers to ONE measly title for your beloved Puh Cs this millennium. You got nothing, Pudhummer.

  11. bozosforall - Dec 19, 2012 at 11:57 PM

    Coach Thib showed who the real defensive wizard is…NOT Doc Rivers. Puh C’s only won a title when Thib was there to direct the defense. That title is a credit to his defensive coaching prowess, not Rivers’.

  12. paulhargis53 - Dec 20, 2012 at 8:57 AM

    bozo/lakerluver the recycler of my old posts everyone…..give him a hand!!!

    Same tired stuff from you dude.

    Homoerotic play on name? check.
    Use someone else’s joke? check.
    More titles in a favorable timeframe? check.

    Know absolutely nothing about basketball? check.

    Go back to lakerluver dude, at least he was very midly entertaining. This persona is a freaking joke.

    Honestly though, you should be proud I guess. You are the owner of the top 2 most inept, moronic names on PBT.
    That’s quite the accomplishment.

    Come on now, dazzle us,with your next post. lm sure its going to be full of insight and hoops knowledge.
    Nah, it will be the same old drivel once again, unfunny, inane and totally devoid of anything resembling a rational thought.

    Don’t you get tired of typing the same thing night in and night out? Of course, your limited intelligence probably precludes you from typing anything else, carry on Biff.

    • Foul Dwimmerlaik - Dec 21, 2012 at 7:50 AM

      “More titles in a favorable timeframe? check.”

      Oh yeah, that’s right. Your legitimate claim of 11 of 13 from 1956 to 1969.

      Since you style yourself as some educated guy (who happens to be allergic when the big word truck arrives – another irony), check the social context of that era, and look at the demographics of today’s NBA players.

      Funny how some people conveniently forget why Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is celebrated every year…

  13. paulhargis53 - Dec 21, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    I never said I was educated. I happen to know a lot about sports though.
    You are the one that thinks he’s smarter than the room. A person can almost see the arrogance dripping off your posts.

    I’m not allergic to “big words”, by any means. You may think you’re talking above me, but you are sat mistaken.

    Anyway, to the point:

    1959 90 players 32 blacks. 35.5%

    1964 90 players 55 blacks. 61%

    1968 140 players 86 blacks 61%

    Your argument that it was a predominately Lilly white league might have held water from 1946-1960.

    Thereafter, blacks made up the majority, culminating into todays NBA.

    For you to say that the Celtics titles somehow mean less is preposterous.

    This is your second attempt at disparagement and your second failure.
    Red Auerbach was at the forefront of integration.
    Back then, the Globetrottters actually paid better and the owners didn’t want to upset Saperstein by taking his best players too.

    Maybe if you got your nose out of the air and out of your oh, so mastery of the classics and into a sports book, you’d know this stuff already.

    School is out, I will expect an essay from you trying to refute this. I look forward to your next failure of an argument, in said essay.

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