Friday, January 4, 2013
The Celtics' lethal inability to score
By Henry Abbott
The Celtics have proved over the past several years that they know how to teach newcomers about their defensive system. Every season of the Kevin Garnett era they have added new, inexpensive and generally unproven defensive players. And every year, at least some of them contribute to a really good defensive team. There have been plenty of Stephon Marburys and Nate Robinsons walking through that door.
The offense, however, has been in something between a decline and a free fall. What was in 2008-09 the league's sixth most efficient offense was, by last season, the 18th best -- as evidenced by a season-ending scoring drought at the end of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
So this offseason, when the Celtics skewed toward scoring in their annual bench-filling, it made sense. They needed new and better ways to score, and they have a track record of turning almost anybody into a defender. Jason Terry was the big name, but also Leandro Barbosa, 3-point shooter Courtney Lee and a returning Jeff Green -- and draft pick Jared Sullinger -- who were all supposed to fill it up.
As Brian Robb explains in fine fashion on CelticsHub ... it has not worked. The defense has been OK -- but not top 10. The offense, meanwhile, has been abysmal. The Celtics were hoping to spruce up the league's 18th-best scoring attack, but have only succeeded in sinking down near the bottom of the league, to 26th.
Yes, there have been injuries. Yes, there are new players learning a new system. But time is short and the implications are grave: A team with title dreams and aging stars currently has about a 30 percent chance of just making the playoffs, according to Hollinger's Playoff Odds. Changing that requires finding new and vastly better ways to get the ball in the bucket.