Celtics continue to have struggles scoring


Celtics continue to have struggles scoring

By A.Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON In Boston's 90-87 loss to Memphis Wednesday night, Celtics coach Doc Rivers wasn't at all pleased with his team's late-game execution offensively.

Truth be told, Boston's late-game gaffes offensively speak to what is becoming an unexpected problem: The Celtics can't score.

When you consider the number of future Hall of Famers the Celtics have, the fact that most of them rank among the NBA's all-time greatest scorers, the idea that they're struggling to score across the board, is puzzling.

Look at the numbers.

Boston came into Wednesday's game ranked 21st in the NBA in scoring, with a 97.1 points-per-game average.

That total has only been reached once by the Celtics in their last 10 games, the kind of scoring drought that speaks volumes about how the C's are in a scoring slump that isn't limited to just one or two players.

"But it hasn't been all year," coach Doc Rivers said of his team's shooting slump. "So, it happens. It's something you get through. But we've got to get through it."

When looking to place blame, Rajon Rondo is an easy target.

He's the team's starting point guard and missed a potential game-winning shot on Wednesday.

But Rivers is quick to tell you that when it comes to placing the blame for the team's recent struggles scoring, it all starts with him.

"Then after that, it starts with the whole team," he said.

Still, Rondo is the most likely Celtic to guide the C's through their recent struggles with his ability to find players in position to score with relative ease.

One of those players Rondo probably needs to look for more in the coming games, is Paul Pierce.

Against the Grizzlies, Pierce had a game-high 22 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the field.

You love the efficient manner in which Pierce went about scoring, but on nights when the Celtics can't find any kind of steady rhythm offensively, Pierce is usually the go-to guy who can get them over the hump.

"You know, listen, I think as a whole, our team, we've got to get back to understanding . . . Paul is pretty good," Rivers said. "And he's got to get more touches in games. We go back and fourth on movement and we want that, but we've also got to get Paul involved. That's on me; I've got to get Paul involved more."

Another tweak the Celtics can make offensively is to simplify the team's various schemes down the stretch in close games.

"We have to have more consistency in what we're calling, play-calling," Rondo said. "We have to have a couple of bread-and-butter plays, not four or five different plays. We need to narrow it down to two or three at the most."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

Crowder on Cousins' style: 'Step up to the test or you get run over'

BOSTON – There was a point in the fourth quarter when Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins was fouled trying to score which brought about an automatic, intense and angry scowl from the all-star center. 

He raised his hand as he were going to strike back at the potential assailant. 

And then he saw the man was Jae Crowder. 


Cousins, who had a game-high 28 points, then went to the free throw line, incident-free. 

“I’m not one those other cats he be punking,” said Crowder with a grin.

That moment was one of many throughout Friday night’s game when Crowder made his presence felt when the game mattered most, and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with whoever stood between him and helping the Celtics win – even Cousins. 

But as Crowder explained following Boston’s 97-92 win, that moment was about two physical players who have developed an on-the-floor rapport that speaks to their intensity and desire to win at all costs. 

“He’s going to bring the game to you; his physicality,” said Crowder who had 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. “He’s a very physical type of guy. If he senses you’re not physical at all, he’ll let you know. He’s a dog down there; he’s a bull. I love to go against a player like that. He’s going to give you his best shot each and every night. You either step up to the test or you get run over.” 

As soon as the two made eye contact, Crowder knew it was one of the many intimidation methods used by Cousins against opposing players. 

Crowder wasn’t having it. 

“That’s my guy; he’s my guy,” Crowder said of Cousins. “He plays a lot of tactics against a lot of other players. I’ve earned that respect with him. He knows I’m going to fight him just as hard as anybody else. We leave it on the court. He’s a good friend of mine. We’ve become friends, just playing ball, playing basketball the right way.”