Boston Celtics

Celtics speeding things up without Rondo

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Celtics speeding things up without Rondo

WALTHAM -- To put it simply, the Celtics have been rather boring on offense for the past few years.

They play the half-court game. They slow it down. They run sets and run the shot clock down. Occasionally they'll speed things up. Occasionally.

This is what they're instructed to do. This is what they're constructed to do. Rajon Rondo runs the point, and in turn runs the show.

It has been a give-the-ball-to-Rondo-and-wait style of basketball for significant portions of many games.

That, obviously, isn't the case anymore this season, and without a real point guard on the team as of now, it won't be the case.

The C's are pushing the tempo and picking up the pace off of rebounds. The goal is to get out on the break and act fast. You wouldn't exactly know it by looking at yesterday's box score though -- 14 fast break points. That's because, according to Doc Rivers, the way it's scored is a poor representation of how often it happens.

"The way they do fast break points is the silliest thing . . . So if you ever go by that number- that's why whenever you guys say after a game, 'such and such had . . .' I know in my mind it's way off, so I never even pay much attention to that number. We had a lot of early offense, and that's what you want. And early offense is a fast break."

The "official" way fast break points are scored is if a basket is made within six seconds of a defensive rebound.

What Rivers' "early offense" means is finding the outlet almost immediately upon a rebound, or turnover and creating a numbers advantage on the break -- whether that means it turns into a layup, foul shots, or is kicked out for a transition three-pointer.

"Fast break to me, is if you can create numbers," Rivers said. "It can be 12 seconds, but because you pushed the ball up the floor, have created a five-on-four, then you've created a fast break point."

Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee were two guards who created those opportunities on a number of occasions Wednesday night.

"One of the things me and Courtney (Lee) told each other before the game, 'Just get it and go!' " Bradley said after the win over Sacramento. "That's what we were doing."

There were plenty of times that a rebound would go straight to Rondo, who would take much time off the shot clock as he would dribble and call out sets. You'd see it far too often: guys like Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, or Jeff Green standing outside the three-point line waiting to see what Rondo would do. What that also did, though, was let the defense set.

Now with a multitude of players able to handle and push the ball up the floor, players are becoming more alert and active on the offensive end.

"We didn't recreate the wheel in one or two days," Rivers said. "We're running the exact same stuff, it's just that there's no one guy starting it. That would be the difference. There's no one guy pushing the ball on the break. And everybody has to be alert, because the ball could be coming your way in transition. And when that happens, I think everybody starts running because they think they may be the guy."

It may seem like the Kings didn't do a great job at pressuring the ball handler and preventing the C's from bringing the ball up the court faster. But that in part has to do with the Celtics not allowing them to.

"The Kings missed a lot of shots early, or in the second quarter, and it's tough to put pressure -- and that's the point I'm making to our guys -- if you throw the ball ahead," Rivers said. "The guy that wants to pressure is already behind the ball. We advance the pass so you can't pressure that. That was a big, to a guard at half court, to another guard. If you don't dribble, it's tough to pressure, and I thought that's what we did a nice job of. It was one pass to another pass to getting in your offense."

And as long as the C's are getting stops on the defensive end, they'll do their best to turn it into offense as fast as they can.

No longer the little team that could, Celtics may need time to jell

No longer the little team that could, Celtics may need time to jell

Fireworks have been ablaze in the NBA all summer long, with the latest electrifying salvo being tossed by the Boston Celtics in trading for Kyrie Irving from Cleveland in exchange for a package of playerscentered around Isaiah Thomas and a first-round pick centered around Isaiah Thomas. Without question the Celtics were among the biggest winners this offseason as they went about transforming their roster significantly despite having the best record in the East while advancing to the conference finals. But good wasn’t good enough, a similar mantra by a number of teams in the NBA. We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin!

BOSTON – Expectations for the Celtics this season are the highest they've been in the Brad Stevens Era.
 
The past couple of years, Stevens’ crew was seen as a scrappy bunch.
 
That all changed Tuesday night when the Celtics pulled off a blockbuster trade in acquiring Kyrie Irving from Cleveland for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the rights to the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.

MORE ON THE KYRIE IRVING BLOCKBUSTER:

 
Acquiring the four-time All-Star would have made this offseason one of the best ever for the Celtics. But prior to landing the 25-year-old point guard, Boston was able to sign Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $127.8 million contract after he spent his first seven seasons in the NBA with the Utah Jazz.
 
The new guys join a Celtics team that returns just four starters, a group led by Al Horford, who stands as the lone returning starter from last season’s squad which finished with the best record in the East (53-29) while advancing to the Eastern Conference finals before losing in five games to Cleveland.
 
Adding a pair of All-Stars to the mix will certainly benefit the Celtics for this upcoming season. But for their continued growth, they will also need to get more from their youngsters.
 
Second-year forward Jaylen Brown had a strong offseason and is poised to build off of a rookie season in which he was named to the All-Rookie second team. Boston will also look to get quality play from rookie Jayson Tatum who was selected by Boston with the third overall pick in the NBA draft.  
 
For Boston, the biggest concern has to be chemistry.
 
There’s no question there’s more talent on this roster from top to bottom.
 
But with this being the first go-around for most of the players, it remains to be seen just how long it will take for all of the core players to get on the same page and find success.
 
That challenge won’t be easy, especially with the Celtics opening with seven of their first 11 games on the road.

Even with all the new faces and a challenging schedule out the gates, that won’t diminish the heightened level of expectations for a team that will surely have a bull’s-eye on its back all season for a journey that should result in yet another deep playoff run.
 
Key free agent/trade additions: Kyrie Irving (from Cleveland); Gordon Hayward (from Utah); Aron Baynes (from Detroit); Marcus Morris (from Detroit).
 
Key losses:
Avery Bradley (traded to Detroit); Amir Johnson (Philadelphia); Jonas Jerebko (Utah).
 
Rookies of note:
Jayson Tatum; Semi Ojeleye.
 
Expectations:
60-22 (First in the Atlantic Division, first in the East)

CSNNE SCHEDULE

BST PODCAST: What grade would you give the Celtics trade for Kyrie Irving?

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BST PODCAST: What grade would you give the Celtics trade for Kyrie Irving?

0:41 - What grade would you give the Celtics for their trade for Kyrie Irving? Michael Holley, Kayce Smith, Tom Curran, break it down and give their grades.

4:32 - Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakley discuss how Kyrie Irving will fit in the Celtics system and how Brad Stevens will handle the roster with new egos.

8:50 - We take a look back at the Pierce and Garnett trade to the Nets that landed the Celtics multiple 1st round picks. Are you pleased with how the Celtics used those picks? Is Danny Ainge a Hall of Fame executive? Michael Holley, A. Sherrod Blakely, and Tom Giles discuss.

14:30 - Our BST crew talk about the Red Sox getting the win over the Indians, Eduardo Nunez being hit intentionally by Corey Kluber, and if Chris Sale will retaliate.