Celtics

Celtics offense firing on all cylinders

Celtics offense firing on all cylinders

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.

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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.

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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.”

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NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Celtics draft big man Robert Williams in first round

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NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Celtics draft big man Robert Williams in first round

1:24 - A. Sherrod Blakely, Brain Scalabrine and Kyle Draper break down the Celtics' selection in the 2018 NBA Draft and are joined by the man who made the pick himself, Danny Ainge.

7:49 - The Nets and Dwight Howard have begun buyout talks, which means the veteran center could soon be a free agent. Michael Holley, Danielle Trotta and Luke Bonner debate if Howard would be a good fit in Boston.

11:59 - Brad Stevens fields questions from the media immediately following the Celtics selection of Williams.

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Ainge stays patient in draft by standing pat at No. 27

Ainge stays patient in draft by standing pat at No. 27

BOSTON – Danny Ainge went through his customary routine of making calls up and down the draft, looking for any and every opportunity to make a deal that would strengthen the Boston Celtics roster. 

And while he was open to getting a deal done and move away from the team’s late first-round pick, Ainge said he went into Thursday night’s draft intent on standing pat with the 27th overall pick that was used to select Robert Williams.

The past few weeks were spent by Ainge and his front office staff examining what the price would be for them to move up in the draft. 

That price proved to be too steep for Ainge’s liking. 

His assessment afterward?

“We were preparing for the 27th pick,” Ainge said. “We were preparing for opportunities to move up; not all the way to the top of the draft but somewhere in the middle and we were preparing for guys we didn’t like, and move back in the draft. It’s the same thing we do every year, prepare for any situation that comes up.”

But this draft felt different, in part because the Celtics were beginning further back than recent years in which includes Boston having the No. 3 overall pick in back-to-back drafts. 

And just like Boston seemed to get great value out of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum from the last two drafts, they are hoping for continued draft success in adding Williams who at one point was considered a player with lottery (top-14) pick talent. 

“Robert will have opportunities to play, but that will depend on how well he plays, what he does,” Ainge said.

Williams’ head coach Billy Kennedy echoed similar sentiments.

“He’s a special talent,” Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy told Boston Sports Tonight. “He can do things some of the other guys in the draft can’t do.”

Which made staying patient and not aggressively trying to move up in the draft, a worthwhile decision for Ainge in Boston landing a player that they did not go into the draft anticipating would be available to them if they stood pat with the 27th overall pick.

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