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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Celtics Playoff Woes

The Celtics remind me of the couple from the tale “The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs.” In the fable, a couple finds a goose that lays golden eggs every day. The couple mistakenly believes the goose has something inside of it that will be worth more than the eggs alone. In the end, they decide to butcher the goose in a failed attempt to get rich quickly, and are left with nothing.
During the second game of the first-round series with the Chicago Bulls, the Celtics fell for this same logic trying to bail themselves out.
Instead of building momentum by attempting to get high percentage shots, the Celtics habitually attempted errant three-point shots with over 15 seconds on the shot clock. This often led to them losing the rebound battle, and left them vulnerable to a Bulls team that knows how to successfully run the fast break.
It certainly doesn’t help that the Bulls have been able to find scoring off their bench from rookie Paul Zipser and a blossoming Bobby Portis. To make matters worse, Celtics Coach Brad Stevens has been unable to get Al Horford in positions to succeed. Though I am often critical of Horford, I really do think he is capable of much more. Watching him be nothing more than a ball movement guy hurts, especially when you remember that the Celtics gave this guy a max contract.
Horford scored seven points off eight shots, and while his 11 rebounds looks nice on the stat-line, the impact is dwarfed when you see that Bulls’ point guard Rajon Rondo had nine himself. I am sick of hearing how Horford contributes so much to the game that you don’t see on the stats sheet. Watching the games, one can see that Horford helps set up shots for those around him, but the Celtics really don’t need that as badly as they need someone who can utilize the pick and roll.
Horford is more than capable of destroying teams with the pick and roll, and the threat of him sinking a mid-range shot would prevent teams from closing in on the paint when Isaiah Thomas drives to the rim.
If the Celtics keep trying to rely on hero ball, they are bound to get kicked out of the first round for the second straight year. By relying on sets that involve Thomas on the ball and everyone else standing around, the Celtics are sabotaging any chance of building momentum on the offensive or defensive end. Celtics defenders are not getting in position to challenge shots, and are slow to switch defensive assignments, which is something that Jimmy Butler and Dwayne Wade will take advantage of without fail.
Normally, the Celtics can rely on Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart to provide lock down defense and agitate the opposing teams star guards. In these two games, though, the Celtics have spent most of their time chasing after the Bulls in the fast break, which keeps the Celtics from establishing defensive sets.
In football, teams will often attempt to run the ball to increase their time of possession. This not only keeps the opposing offense off the field, but allows the defense to recover and rest. This strategy obviously cannot be completely replicated in basketball, but the idea can be carried over. If the Celtics can slow the game down on offense, and force the Bulls to spend energy defending, they’ll have a much better chance of keeping themselves in the game.
This series has tested Brad Stevens and the Celtics, and the games won’t get any easier as the Celtics travel to Chicago for the next two games. If the Celtics wish to avoid being completely embarrassed and hope to separate themselves from this “fake one seed” label, they must make these adjustments.
If they continue playing desperately and don’t utilize their skills, Celtics fans will be paying attention to the draft lottery much earlier than they would like to be.