Celtics continue to struggle with turnovers

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Celtics continue to struggle with turnovers

BOSTON -- In baseball, players are often instructed to put the ball in play instead of swinging for the fences.

So in basketball it would only make sense to keep the ball in motion instead of looking for the home run play, right?

Sometimes a simple approach doesnt seem so, well, simple.

The Boston Celtics have struggled this season with execution and turnovers. Flashy passes have landed out of bounds or in the hands of defenders. Basic fundamentals have fallen to the wayside at times, with the Celtics averaging 15.6 turnovers per game this season.

The Cs look to clean up these frustrating errors in the second half of the season.

I think too often were trying to make the home run play, said Ray Allen. We just have to be simple out there, just moving the ball to the guy in front of you and that guy moving and penetrating and moving. For us, you might have one home run play out of ten and we just have to know that we have to take care of the ball and weve got to make the simple play, the simple pass 90 percent of the time.

The Celtics committed 14 turnovers on Wednesday night in their 102-96 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, two less than Tuesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers and four less than last weeks game against the Oklahoma City Thunder before the All-Star Break.

Allen believes the turnovers are related to the Celtics offensive struggles this season, with errors preventing them from getting the ball in the basket. While the Celtics entered Wednesday's game ranked third in the NBA in opponents scoring (88.4 points per game allowed), they also ranked 26th overall in scoring (89.3 points per game).

Our struggles are a source of aggravation for me because I know we have a lot of scorers on this team and a lot of time we just are in our own way, Allen said. You over dribble or you turn the ball over, those are two things that keep us from putting the ball in the hole. We can play defense but we have to score.

Even though it is a team effort, Rajon Rondo looks to himself to set the execution in motion as the point guard. This season he is averaging 3.8 per game, up from 3.4 last season.

It starts with me, he said. I try to keep my turnovers down. When theyre high, my team is high. Tonight I think I only had three, which is ok except for the turnover in the fourth quarter. We want to get better.

Kevin Garnett believes one way to help solve the Celtics problem is by having more practices. Those opportunities have been hard to come by in this shortened season, and players have had less chances to run through plays and fix their errors on the practice court.

Its being smart, Garnett said. One of the things we talk about is cutting our turnovers down. I think we have a lot of times to blow a lot of teams out, but the reason why teams are in some games is because we turn the ball over.

Im going to continue to say this in another outfit, as you rewind the tapes and see it again, you just cant step on the floor without practice. Practice cleans all this up. It gives you a rhythm as a whole and it makes you better. It makes you a lot more confident in your teammate and knowing where his spots are and just a different kind of continuity.

When you know you turn the ball over, some of those fancy passes are not so motivating. Weve just to continue to take care of the ball and win these games and continue to see just how many games we can win through all this.

Now in the second half of the season, how can the Celtics focus on simple basketball and cut back on turnovers without having the luxury of practice time to do so? It has to be a concerted effort each and every game.

If I had that (answer) then I dont think wed be going through what were going through, said Garnett. I know Doc (Rivers), if he had it, he would put it in a jar and give it to everybody to drink.

Blakely's five throughts from the Green and White Scrimmage

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Blakely's five throughts from the Green and White Scrimmage

Click here for the gallery. 

BOSTON – As has been customary with the Celtics in recent years, their open practice on Friday night featured a pair of 10-minute scrimmages pitting the “Green” team of starters against the “White” team of reserves.
 
The White team, which apparently has been kicking the Green team’s butt for a good chunk of camp, emerged with a 33-26 win. And the Green team had to rally to win the second scrimmage, 24-18.

Similar to summer league, you can’t read too much into what happened and what didn’t happen on Friday night.
 
That said, there were a number of clear and undeniable positives for the Celtics to take from the game and hopefully build upon them going forward.
 
 
5. Al Horford's leadership established
 
The first player’s voice that the 6,000-plus fans at the TD Garden heard from was Al Horford and don’t think for a minute that was just happenstance.
 
For all the scoring and rebounding and defending that the Celtics will look for Horford to do, it is his ability to lead this team that separates him from most of his NBA brethren.
 
The fact that he’s a four-time All-Star speaks to what he has done in this league as a player. But even more telling is that was the fact that he’s been to the playoffs every year he has been in the NBA. And during that span of nine years, he has been pivotal in leading Atlanta beyond the first round – a primary goal for him and the Celtics this season – five times.
 
 
4. Celtics defense could be an elite unit this season
 
The Celtics were a top-10 defensive team last season, and have every reason to believe that they’ll be even better now. Boston has a trio of Pit Bull-like defenders on the perimeter in Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and All-NBA first team defender Avery Bradley. Throw in Jae Crowder’s defensive versatility at the wing along with a pair of upper echelon rim-protectors in Amir Johnson and Al Horford and the Celtics no longer are a team that can put a couple good defenders on the floor at one time. They actually have the depth now to go with a ‘Big’ all-defensive team or a ‘small ball’ all-defensive team which provides the kind of versatility that should result in Boston being a top-3 defensive team this season.
 
 
3. Marcus Smart poised for breakout season
 
Smart seemed about as comfortable as we’ve seen him on Friday, showcasing his range as a shooter while still being able to get after it defensively. Based on what he has done in terms of improving his game, Smart seems more likely to play off the ball than on it. With his size, strength, athleticism and ability to defend multiple positions that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If Boston does indeed have one of those magical-type seasons, Smart is a player that has the potential to help significantly. He understands the Celtics’ system inside and out, and is doing what young players on the rise should do – show growth as a player.
 
 
2. James Young playing best basketball at right time
 
These are some pretty stressful times for James Young, but you wouldn’t know it by the extremely cool demeanor he has exuded. Although it has only been a few short days of training camp, James Young has stepped up his game knowing anything less than his best could result in him being waived and potentially on his way out of the NBA. During the first Green-White scrimmage on Friday night, Danny Ainge said there were five guys essentially fighting for two roster spots. He didn’t single out Young specifically, but it’s no secret that the 21-year-old who is heading into third NBA season is among the players in that group. To Young's credit, he's doing a lot of those little things such as playing solid defense, getting deflections and making "hockey assists" to show he belongs in the NBA and more significantly, should remain a Celtic. 
  
1. Terry Rozier's tremendous strides
 
Rozier was the star of the two scrimmages the Celtics put on in front of about 6,000 people at the TD Garden Friday night. He scored, got assists, rebounded … he did it all. What impressed me the most about him was his defense on Isaiah Thomas. Rozier loves Thomas and respects the hell out of him. But Rozier  has made no secret about wanting to get more playing time this year, and is out to snatch some of the minutes from anyone ahead of him, Thomas included. We saw the tenacious potential Rozier has as an on-the-ball defender, but he seems to have taken that up a notch from his rookie season. And the confidence he has in his shot-making is undeniable. We saw that in summer league and it’s good to see that he brought it with him into training camp. Ditto for his decision-making and leading of the team at the point which are also areas in which he has improved but still needs to continue to get better at on a more consistent basis. There’s no doubt at this point Rozier will play this season and likely get a lion’s share of the minutes vacated by Evan Turner’s departure to Portland.