We have seen the Boston Celtics in the role of being a defensive stalwart most of this season, striving to someday have an offense that was just as powerful.
Since the All-Star break, the offensive floodgates have opened for a Celtics team that most nights trickled out just enough points to win.
Boston’s once-sputtering offense has been among the best in the NBA since the break, with an Eastern Conference-best offensive rating of 117.0.
Only the Golden State Warriors (117.9) have a better offensive rating than the Celtics since teams returned to the floor following the All-Star break.
It didn’t hurt that Boston has played five teams with sub-.500 records since the break and defeated them all, with the lone post All-Star break defeat being a 123-120 nail-biter at Houston on Saturday which at the time had the best record in the NBA.
Still, Boston’s offense struggled at times against sub-.500 teams in earlier matchups.
So, what has changed?
“Each game is a little bit different story,” explained Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Against Charlotte, it was probably more shot-making than anything else.”
Boston set a number of season highs offensively in their 134-106 win over the Hornets on Feb. 28.
“The other games we played with a real purpose,” Stevens said. “We cut well, we’ve tried to tweak and leave the basketball a little more wide open for some of our drivers to make plays off drive and kicks. And we got a ton of good looks that didn’t go in, too.”
And that’s the scary part about Boston’s improved offense.
As good as they have been since the All-Star break, there’s plenty of room for even better play going forward.
Boston Celtics forward Al Horford said Stevens has been on the team about playing with better pace and thus, positioning themselves to be a better team offensively which would help balance out a unit that has already established itself as an elite team defensively.
Since the All-Star break, Boston has averaged 116.5 points which ranks sixth in the league. Prior to the break, Boston’s offense generated 103.1 points which ranked 25th in the NBA.
Boston’s defense rating prior to the break was a league-best 100.9 and has since dipped to 105.2 which ranks 10th in the NBA since the All-Star break.
Still, the knowledge that they have an established defense and an offense that’s showing steady growth are both good signs for a team whose thoughts are focused on building towards the postseason.
“Finally, we’re getting to the point as a group where we’re playing with good pace, moving the ball like coach wants us to,” Horford said. “The biggest thing for us is to keep improving in that area.”