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.

Crowder on Wizards' all-black 'funeral' plans for Celtics: 'That's cute!'

Crowder on Wizards' all-black 'funeral' plans for Celtics: 'That's cute!'

The Washington Wizards plan to roll into tonight’s game against the Celtics donning all-black clothes, as in a funeral procession, a sign of solidarity and an omen of sorts for a game that they hope ends with them burying the Celtics.
 
When Jae Crowder was asked about the Wizards all-black gear, his initial response...“That’s cute!”
 
More than anything, the Wizards (24-20) are putting a significant amount of value into tonight’s game. A victory would extend their home winning streak to 14.

Meanwhile, the Celtics (26-17) come in looking to snap a two-game losing streak.
 
“This is definitely not Game 7 or the playoffs,” said Isaiah Thomas. “But if they want to take it that serious, they can.”
 
The idea to arrive at the Verizon Center donning all-black was hatched by Bradley Beal, who has some contentious moments, to say the least, with the Celtics recently.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens knows all about the funeral talk which to him is just that, talk. He’s more concerned with his team doing what they need to do in order to win.
 
Nothing more.
 
Nothing less.
 
“At the end of the day, good basketball teams are physical,” he said. “There’s a line you don’t want to cross. Ultimately, you have to be appropriately physical at a high level. It’s about playing well, focus on your next task at hand. This is a great opportunity to see where we’re at.”

In the Celtics' 117-108 win over the Wizards on Jan. 11, Beal was whistled for a flagrant-1 foul after getting into it with Marcus Smart.
 
Last season, Beal was on the receiving end of a left forearm to the face from Smart, who was driving to the basket at the time. The blow resulted in a broken nose for Beal in addition to spending time in the league’s concussion protocol program.
 
And then there’s his backcourt mate John Wall.
 
He was fined $15,000 for his role in a postgame incident with Jae Crowder (who was fined $25,000). Crowder pushed Wall’s nose with his finger, which led to Wall retaliating with a slap towards Crowder’s face.
 
And when the two met back on Nov. 9, Wall was hit with a flagrant-2 foul (an automatic ejection) when he threw Smart down hard to floor in the final moments of a Wizards win.
 
The Celtics have a few games that have become more physical than others recently, but there’s something about this Celtics-Wizards matchup that brings out an elevated level of feistiness.
 
“It’s just all talk; that’s all it is,” Thomas said. “I guess they taking it and running with it. I don’t know what it is. I [saw] the funeral and the all-black thing last night and I just laughed about it. We’ll be there tonight for a game, not a funeral.”
 

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