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6-0 and still not perfect: ways for the Celtics to play even better.

November 6, 2009

The ever-efficient Pierce 2.0 is on a hot streak scoring inside and out. Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant NBAE via Getty Images.

The ever-efficient Pierce 2.0 is on a hot streak scoring inside and out. Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant NBAE via Getty Images.

Only in Boston.
Only in Boston can you find fans that aren’t 100% happy when their basketball team is 6-0.
Only in Boston can you find fans calling into local sports radio and complaining about what needs to be fixed after only 1 week of basketball.

Only in Boston.

We will start with something noteworthy: the Wall Street Journal and Dave Berri is ranking the Celtics starting 5 among the top 5 starting 5 of all time.Despite our winning ways, sure enough, I can poke and prod at some of the things that the Celtics still need to address. Much like last year’s 19-game win-streak that was ended by the Lakers on Christmas Day, we weren’t playing our best ball despite the impressive record. Doc said over and over again that there were things the team needed to do better even though they were winning.

¡ RONDO !

¡ RONDO !

This is what separates the good teams from the great teams: even when winning, or at times dominating, winners find ways to keep improving. The 2008-2009 Celtics had some serious issues with depth and length off the bench. These issues became even more evident when KG and Powe went down… making it nearly impossible for the Celtics to get past the front-court heavy Magic.

We saw these issues fixed during the off-season: re-signing Glen Davis (I’m going to see if I can stop calling him Big Bay for a little bit, too, Wyc), picking up Quisy, Shelden Williams, and most importantly adding Rasheed Wallace to our bench.

So why is this 6-0 2009-2010 Celtics team still not perfect?

Starting out slow.

Game 1 v. Cavs – down 21-7 early on.
Game 2 v. Bobcats – only had 12 points through the first 8 minutes.
Game 3 v. Bulls – only had 16 points through the first 10 minutes.
Game 5 v. 76ers – only had 10 points through the first 10 minutes.
Game 6 v. T Wolves – really? do we even have to talk about this one?

We’ve been anything but quick out of the gates. Part of the issue is that it is only the first week, but shots just aren’t falling early. I heard the other day that the team decided to forgo some of their pre-game shoot-arounds in favor of giving the guys additional time to sleep. They met with sleep experts and are trying to buy into rest instead shots. Am I reaching on this one? Maybe. I am hoping it is just early and we see the team come out firing… but there have always been some inconsistencies, offensively, with this starting line-up of Rondo-Ray-Pierce-KG-Perk: sometimes they will light you up for a 38 point quarter and other times have 18 on the board. I’m hoping to find some consistency in rhythm on offense… sooner than later.

Forcing passes.

Part of our sluggish start also comes with some forced passing. Sometimes we aren’t passing (remember that play against Minny when Ray dribbled down, dribbled around, and then threw up a terrible shot after holding onto the ball for 20 seconds?) and sometimes we are passing too much (how many good looks do we want to pass up?). I’m not sure which situation is worse, but both are pretty undesirable. Rondo isn’t the only perpetrator here, so bring those fingers slowly down. We are throwing the ball into places that shouldn’t be thrown and thus resulting in turnovers.

Turnovers.

Oh yeah. Turnovers. The little statistic that is already starting to rear its ugly head only 1 week in. After 6 games, the Celts have already turned the ball over 83 times (averaging 13.8 TO/game). If the Celtics are giving up the ball almost 14 times per game, opponents are getting an easy 14 points a game if they can convert just 50% of the recovered turnovers into buckets.

Mixing in starters and role players.

I’ve been screaming for this during live game chats over at Red’s Army and Gino’s Jungle and over Twitter and to my wife during games: mix in the bench players and starters! We know the starting 5 have so much ubuntu in them they’re practically crapping it out during the game. The second unit is gelling quite nicely with Eddie, Quisy, Ray/Pierce, Shelden, and Sheed in. Scal is starting to acquire some minutes as he makes his return, and the players are playing pretty well together. But I would love to see some serious mixing up of line-ups during the close of the second and third quarters. I want to see Rondo-Ray-KG-Sheed-Perk or Quisy-Pierce-KG-Perk-Shelden or Eddie-Ray-Pierce-Sheed-KG (shooter’s line-up!) in. Why not mess around to make the chemistry that much more explosive or to make their anticipation that much tighter?

KG looking more mobil with each passing game. Photo by David Sherman NBAE via Getty Images.

KG looking more mobil with each passing game. Photo by David Sherman NBAE via Getty Images.

Going into the game tonight against the Suns, I’d love to see Doc read my blog and really pay attention to the advice that I’m giving to him free of charge. It seems like a simple game-plan: stop Nash and Amare and let everyone else hurt you. It’s as simple as that. The run-n-gun offense only works when their point guard can penetrate and their big man can finish. It just so happens Rondo and KG are two of the best defenders in the league. How convenient.

Be Green.

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