In the wake of the offseason there’s lots of talk about what’s next for the Celtics. Getting younger, faster, and more athletic seem to be the most common fixes in the minds of the fans. Then’s there’s the speculation of which free agents we can scoop up after the CBA makes it that much more difficult to rebuild a team. So, let’s assume that aside from a few bench guys and Shaq hanging up his sneaks, the core group comes back next season. How does that team get better and make another title run as the Big 3 era winds down?
High post pick and roll with Nenad and Rondo – after a nice start, Nenad Krstic disappeared at the end of the season and played some serviceable but forgettable minutes in the playoffs. He always seemed to be guarding whoever was scoring and lost all confidence in the paint. The one thing he did continue to do, besides that crazy comb-over, was hit the mid-range jumpers. If Nenad and Rondo can work the screen and roll consistently throughout the season it will create a lot more scoring opportunities for both of them. Nenad has to look for the shots in his comfort zone, and Rondo needs to recognize that once he’s in the paint he has to put it up and not be afraid to get fouled and go to the line.
Running Plays Through Jeff Green – when everyone is talking about the Celtics getting more athletic, they need to look at Jeff Green, aside from his stifling inability to catch and hold on to the ball, he is as athletic a player as you’re going to find in the NBA. When he first arrived on the Celtics, he spent most of his time waiting for the ball on the wing, as the season went on he was getting the ball in the post and making some things happen, but Doc needs to make a more concerted effort to draw up plays specifically for Green and make the most of his athleticism. Hopefully he can hold on to the ball when that time comes.
Avery Bradley and Delonte West Tandem – Avery Bradley showed some strong potential towards the end of the season on the offense, and we all know how tough he can be defensively. If he was allowed a few more minutes to gain some confidence we’ll at least be able to see if the youngster has what it takes to play in the NBA, he’s only going to be 21 at the start of next season. Pairing him with West at the two guard spot gives the Celtics a tenacious back court that can run the ball and defend well. It gives Ray Allen much needed time on the bench and develops a young player who could become a big part of the team or a valuable trading chip towards the end of the season.
Closing Out Games – The downfall of the Heat series and a majority of the Celtic’s losses throughout the season came from an inability to close out games. The 4th quarter was kryptonite for us and the fix has to come from the veterans. This is where the toughness criticism really holds water. During the last 12 minutes of the game everyone has to be defensive minded and expect to get scores from turnovers. The Celtics just can’t go shot for shot towards the end of games with younger teams. They have to force bad shots, box out and go after the ball like it was the last Icy/Hot in the locker room.
These ideas may not be the miracle cure the Celtics need in order to get back to the finals, but they certainly wont hurt, not as much as getting knocked out by the Heat again next year.
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