Now that the lowlights are out of the way, let’s look at some good things that happened in both the Portland and Denver games—things we should hope to see more of on offense.
The Celtics are an aging team, and three of their key players (guess which ones?) aren’t quite as athletic or explosive as they used to be. The team’s offense therefore functions best when the off-the-ball movement is vigorous and creative; this is why Doc has made such a big stink this season about the team committing to its set plays instead of bogging the offense down with isolations.
Here’s a great example of the good stuff from Friday’s win at Portland:
The C’s start this set with Ray Allen at the top of the arc and two bigs (Glen Davis and Sheed) at the elbows. Just about every team in the league has plays that start in this formation.
Boston uses it more than most clubs—particularly when the bench is in—and it usually involves Ray cutting to the side or the corner and getting involved in some screening action designed to confuse the defense, create switches or free Ray up for a jumper.
As you can see, this play starts that way before Ray suddenly stops in the paint, pushes off Rudy Fernandez and cuts up to set a screen on Big Baby’s man (Dante Cunningham). The play seems to catch both Cunningham (a rookie) and Fernandez by surprise, and they play it about as poorly as possible. Sheed hits a wide open Davis, who draws a foul. Good stuff.
Here’s another creative play that starts with almost the same set against Denver:
This is how Boston usually operates from this set—Allen tosses the ball to one of the post players (KG at the left elbow) and cuts toward the opposite corner, where he sets a screen for Pierce and temporarily forces a Denver switch. Except that’s not the purpose of the play. Perk has stuck around the right elbow, and Ray cuts back out toward the three-point line, taking a screen from Perk and catching the pass from KG at the top of the arc.
Perk’s guy (Kenyon Martin) realizes Ray has a potential open three, so he jumps out to help. Perk is open, and he rolls to the hoop for the easy two.
This play involves four different guys and takes some unexpected twists along the way. More, please.
Finally, let’s check out a play the C’s introduced about three weeks ago that appears once or twice per game (sometimes more) and usually produces something good. I call it the Rugby Scrum play, because it basically involves two Celtic bigs running right at Rajon Rondo to set something resembling a double screen on Rondo’s guy. I didn’t bother slowing this one down, since it’s fairly easy to follow:
Simple but effective, and it produces all sorts of pick and pop options depending on which Celtic bigs form the scrum, how the defense responds and how the screeners move once Rondo drives by. Look for it as we head down the stretch of the regular season.