Celtics

Celtics

WALTHAM, Mass. – When it comes to getting buckets for the Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas has earned the right to be the team’s first option.

But on far too many nights last season, there were stretches where Thomas was more than just the first option.

He was the only option.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has plenty on his plate when it comes to figuring out what’s needed in order for Boston to take that next step beyond being just a playoff contender.

Somewhere on that list has to be finding another reliable, high-impact scorer.

“That’s a hard thing to develop, a 20-point per game scorer and a guy that’s going to use 30 percent of your possessions and those type of things,” Stevens said.

But it becomes more of a necessity if the Celtics are to make significant strides this season.

Boston used a strong finish to the regular season to get into the playoffs as the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference last season. The Celtics’ top two scorers going into the postseason were Thomas (16.4 points per game) and Avery Bradley (13.9 points per game).

The Celtics were the only team in the playoffs last year whose No. 2 scorer averaged less than 14 points per game.

Short of a player emerging as a high-scoring No. 2 option, the Celtics will once again rely on whoever has the hot hand on that particular night.

In an ideal world, Boston would eventually have the kind of offensive balance of the Atlanta Hawks who don’t necessarily have a 20-point scorer but field a roster full of players who can consistently score in the high-teens.

Although Atlanta had the top seed in the Eastern Conference, their top two scorers Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague averaged 16.7 and 15.9 points, respectively, for a combined scoring average of 32.6 points per game. There were five playoff teams in the East last season – the Celtics being one of them – whose top two scorers had a higher combined scoring average than Millsap and Teague.

More than anything else, Boston has to get more consistency from its roster when it comes to scoring.

“The consistency is what separates those great, great scorers,” Stevens said. “There are certainly guys on this team that are capable of scoring the ball and our goal is to put them in position to do that as consistently as possible.”