Celtics look to push the pace offensively

Celtics look to push the pace offensively
September 30, 2012, 10:04 pm
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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.