Celtics struggling to find their way on offense

Celtics struggling to find their way on offense
February 9, 2014, 10:45 pm
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BOSTON — The return of Rajon Rondo was supposed to bring about a return to some semblance of the Boston Celtics having a functional offense.

But as we saw in Sunday's 102-91 loss to Dallas, Boston's offense can be a hot mess on any given night of the week.

They finished shooting 35.6 percent from the field after entering the fourth quarter at less than 30 percent shooting.

When you talk to players and coaches about the offense and the problems they experienced against a Dallas team that by the way has been among the league's worst defensively for most of the season, Boston's offensive woes become apparent.

There are various theories and ideas as to why this team struggled against the Mavericks, serving as a microcosm for what has been a season-long problem of not knowing how to find a solution to the offensive issues because there's no true consensus on what those problems are exactly.

For example, here's head coach Brad Stevens' take on why they struggled so mightily against the Mavericks.

"Length," said Stevens who added, "the length hurt us early on, I thought. We had the ball at the rim, we missed a dunk, we missed a couple of layups, we missed shots you normally make. You miss a couple of corner threes and then it became a little contagious."

Jared Sullinger, whose double-double streak remains alive after tallying 11 points and 12 rebounds on Sunday, had a different idea about the team's offensive struggles.

"We had great shots, they just weren’t falling," said Sullinger who was 4-for-13 shooting. "I thought even my shots were great shots, but they just weren’t falling."

And when asked about whether he thought Dallas' length bothered the team, Sullinger responded succinctly, "No."

And then there was Gerald Wallace's impressions of what went oh-so-wrong for the Celtics offense which is shooting 43.6 percent on the season which ranks 26th (out of 30 teams) in the league.

"We played the better team," Wallace said about Sunday's loss. "My main thing about the game was we settled and they attacked. They came out with a purpose, ... that is a veteran team and they tried to put you out in the third quarter and they came out attacking us and put us on our heels and they were able to build the lead.”

All three make valid points about Boston's offense which ranks among the league's worst in several categories.

But more than anything else, it comes down to being the aggressor, enforcing your style of play on the opponent.

And sadly, the Celtics failed to do that at either end of the floor.

The defense had plenty of moments when it failed to deliver the necessary stop or rebound needed, but Boston's offense was truly problematic on Sunday for three-plus quarters.

"We're a jump-shooting team," Wallace said. "We live by it, we die by it. We've got to learn to put pressure on the defense; we don't put any pressure on the defense by shooting jump shots."

Especially when you have a roster that's clearly void of consistently solid, long-range shooters.

"We (have) to learn to get to the rim and force them to guard us in a different way," Wallace said. "I felt like we could have punished them (Mavericks) on the block. They're a long team, you make them move from one end of the court to the other and we didn't do that. We just settled for jump shots. You gotta understand, just because you're open doesn't necessarily mean it's a good shot. Sometimes you gotta try to get to the rim and try to draw a foul."

Length. Just one of those nights. Too many jumpers. Not enough drives into the lane.

Regardless of the reasons behind the Celtics struggles offensively, it doesn't change the fact that being an inconsistent team offensively is part of this team's DNA.

And there's not a lot, not even the return of Rondo, that's going to change that anytime soon.