Offensive Efficiency: 95.2 points/100 possessions (bottom five in the league)
Defensive Efficiency: 106.0 points/100 possessions (bottom five in the league)
Pace: 83 possessions (slow)
THESE TRENDS CANNOT STAND, MAN
The Celtics slipped to 21st in the league in defensive rebounding percentage after giving up 11 offensive rebounds to the Bulls last night. The Boston offense has slipped out of the top-10. The defense continues to linger in the bottom half of the league. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce appear injured, out of shape or on a slippery slope into decline.
Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo is killing himself every night trying to keep this team afloat and Ray Allen is logging longer and longer minutes while putting up his most efficient numbers as a member of the Celtics.
Some of these things are more worrying than others.
Boston’s renewed commitment to rebounding, after last week’s home loss to the Pacers, has made little difference in results. The Mavericks and Bulls both put up solid-to-huge offensive rebounding numbers this week. It’s exhausting the defense, and then, by extension, the offense suffers as well.
You can definitely pin some of this on Pierce and Garnett’s underperformance — assuming you believe that’s what it is. With Pierce, that certainly seems the case. He’s still working his way into shape in what would normally be just his second week of training camp. All this on top of a heel injury that may still be lingering. He’s going to get better, and there’s not any reason to think he’ll fall off much from last year once he’s back in game shape.
Garnett groused about the shortened training camp but by now he should have no conditioning excuses as he’s been engaged in formal basketball activities for a month. However, last night he was spotted with an ice pack on his left ankle and declined any comment on whether it was an injury or just standard post-game icing.
Then there’s the offense, which staggered to a finish last night after a Rondo-led comeback devolved into Paul Pierce-led hero ball in the middle of the fourth quarter.
We’ll have a look at this in greater detail next week but it’s fair to say that now is not the time for Pierce to be shouldering the burden of the offense in the fourth. Not when it kills tempo and ball movement, which is the only way the Celtics can score these days. And definitely not when Doc Rivers has gone all in trying to win the game by running KG up to 34 minutes, Allen to 41, Rondo to 40 and Pierce himself to 36.
The starters might have been gassed by that point, but if that was the case, Rivers should have gone deeper into the bench for some energy guys. Chris Wilcox had a mini-breakout in a handful of first half minutes and Greg Stiemsma has been inexplicably buried despite a promising start.
With the heavy minutes in a late-starting national game last night, a midnight flight and a SEGABABA tonight against a tough Indiana team, we may be headed for a “schedule loss” unless Rivers trusts his own offensive system down the stretch. The Celtics need energetic bodies on the court. Not just the ones he’s used to.
Rondo is averaging 36.9 minutes a game through ten games, only a tick off his career high of 37.2 last season. These are generally hard minutes with him expending enormous energy on both sides of the court. Last year, this kind of burden finally caught up to him after the all-star break. With Rondo embracing the role of team leader this year, it’s incumbent on Doc to manage his minutes so he has something left in the tank when, presumably, the rest of the team rounds into form. Assuming they do.