Celtics look to push the pace offensively

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Celtics look to push the pace offensively

WALTHAM The Boston Celtics want to get out and run more which should result in more points scored.

Presumably more points will in some way impact the C's rock-solid defense that has been among the NBA's best for years.

"We're still all about defense," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "Having said that, you can still score."

True, but a shift to becoming more offensive is necessary for the Celtics to continue competing with the NBA's elite.

Making more shots would be simplifying the challenge that Boston faces.

"We need to just increase our pace," Rivers said. "But we turned the ball over too much last year. Over anything, that hurt our offense last year."

Boston committed 14.1 turnovers per game last season which ranked 17th in the league. However, the second half of the season saw a Boston team that ran more pick-and-rolls which created more scoring opportunities and fewer turnovers.

Prior to the All-Star break, Boston averaged 14.7 turnovers which ranked No. 21 in the NBA. After the break, the Celtics were up to No. 6 in turnovers with 13 per game.

Not only does that bode well for their chances to be successful during the regular season, but it sets the table for them to have a shot at winning it all.

For Boston to have any chance this season at bringing home Banner 18, they must become a more effective scoring team than the one last season which averaged 91.8 points which ranked No. 26 in the NBA.

Looking back at the last 10 NBA champions, they all achieved greatness differently.

But the one thing they all had in common was that they were a better scoring team than the C's squad we saw last year that advanced to the Eastern Conference finals before being eliminated in seven games by Miami.

Boston's scoring woes were a major factor in their Game 7 loss to the Heat, a game in which the Celtics' second unit scored a total of just two points.

"That's unacceptable," said Celtic guard Jason Terry, one of the league's top sixth men. "And it won't happen while I'm a Celtic."

If Boston has any realistic hope of winning a title this year, their scoring has to increase significantly.

Only one team (Detroit, 2004) in the past decade has won an NBA title in the same season in which they finished in the league's bottom 10 scoring.

During Boston's 2008 title run, the C's ranked 11th in the NBA in scoring, and were the league's No. 2 scoring defense.

The only champion since 2003 to finish in the top 10 scoring and have a top-10 scoring defense, was the Miami Heat last year when they finished seventh and fifth, respectively.

That is the kind of balance that Boston will be seeking this season.

And if the C's can stay relatively healthy, it is a goal that's very achievable.

Boston's defense will continued to be anchored by Kevin Garnett. On the perimeter, the C's have Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley (shoulders) once he returns.

Throw in the big man depth they now have with Chris Wilcox, Jason Collins, Darko Milicic along with rookies Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, and you have a squad that has the potential to both protect the paint and defend the perimeter.

Offensively, Boston's bench should be better -- much better -- than last season's backups when it comes to scoring.

According to Hoopstats.com, the Celtics bench averaged 23.2 points per game which ranked 29th (out of 30 teams) last season.

Boston's second unit was even worse in the playoffs, chipping in just 15.2 points per game.

In addition to Terry, a former Sixth Man of the Year award winner, Boston's second unit also includes Jeff Green who should also figure prominently in the team's efforts to bolster its scoring punch.

Along with his perimeter shooting, Terry and Lee also give Boston a pair of players who can create their own shot off the dribble which should take some of the dribble-drive pressure off Rajon Rondo.

"More guys can put the ball on the floor, so that's good," Rivers said.

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics are about to hit one of the toughest stretches of the season and they’ll have to do it for at least one more game without their leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas. 
 
Thomas, who suffered a right groin injury on Monday against the Houston Rockets, did not play on Wednesday against Orlando and said that he will not play in Friday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors. 
 
“It’s day to day. I want to play. I want to be out there but it’s the smart decision to hold out and wait until it’s 100 percent,” Thomas said during a Season of Giving event for children of the Military Friends Foundation held at the Celtics’ practice facility. “If it was a playoff game I would be out there for sure.”
 
However, after consulting with a number of medical personnel, Thomas decided the best thing for him and the Celtics was to sit out Friday’s game which, along with Wednesday in Orlando, will be the first two he has missed since the 2014-2015 season. 
 
Thomas said there’s no specific timetable for his return, but he said he is planning to travel with the team to Oklahoma City for their matchup against the Thunder on Sunday. 
 
“It’s eating me a live to sit, but I have to do what’s best for my body, I have to do what’s best for this team,” Thomas said. “I need to be 100 percent healthy to give this team what I can give them.”
 
The Celtics are hoping for similar success they had Wednesday in Orlando (a 117-87 victory) on Friday against Toronto.
 
“They played a hell of a game last night,” Thomas said. “They’ll be ready tomorrow.”
 
The fact that Thomas intends to travel with the team is a good sign that the groin injury isn’t too serious. 
 
If he doesn’t play at Oklahoma City, that likely means he’ll return to action on Wednesday at San Antonio. 
 
“I’m going to do what I can to get back out there on the court,” Thomas said. “I gotta be smart about this. I don’t want this to linger on this season.”
 
Replacing Smart in the lineup against Toronto will most likely be Marcus Smart. 
 
Smart, who has been a replacement starter at small forward and point guard this season, had 13 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals against the Magic.