The Boston Celtics suffered a frustrating loss on Sunday to the Atlanta Hawks, mostly due their lack of offense. For a team whose offensive flow usually runs smoothly, something was definitely off in Game 1.
Both the team's superstars and its bench need to step it up on the court. Their offense was stagnant on Sunday, and it was clear they were struggling to find their groove. The Celtics shot 30 percent total, with zero percent from beyond the arc.
Rajon Rondo is suspended one game for making contact with a game official, after he chest-bumped referee Marc Davis. Still, without their point guard, the Celtics must fix their offense if they want to stay in this series.
Ray Allen sat out Game 1 with an ankle injury, and the Celtics definitely missed his dependable three-point shot. The C's did not make a single three-pointer, finishing 0-11 from beyond the arc.
Mickael Pietrus is expected to start Game 2. The Celtics forward is a good perimeter shooter with a three-point range. With Pietrus, the Celtics will be able to spread the floor—something they didn't do in Game 1.
The ability to spread the floor will only benefit Boston. The Hawks will be forced to focus on defending the outside shooting of Pietrus and Paul Pierce, opening up more shots for the team.
If the Celtics want to win this series, they have to make three-pointers—with or without Jesus Shuttlesworth.
Due to injuries and other problems, the Celtics have a weak bench this season. However, nothing can excuse their performance in Game 1. The C's bench only scored four points compared to the Hawks' 17.
While rookie big man Greg Stiemsma was productive on the boards—racking up nine rebounds—the bench as a collective unit did not show up to play. With Ray Allen a game-time decision and Rajon Rondo suspended, Doc Rivers will be relying on his bench more than ever.
Guard Keyon Dooling, who scored two of the four bench points in Game 1, will see a lot more playing time in Rondo's absence. Rookie guard E'Twaun Moore may factor in as well. If they can get their offense flowing, it will improve the offense for the team as a whole.
Team leader Paul Pierce finished with 12 points on 5-19 shooting in Game 1. He was unable to find his perimeter shot or even get to the basket.
With Rondo out, Pierce must step up for the Celtics to win. It is the perfect time for him to assume the leadership role again. When Rondo missed games due to injury in the past, Pierce elevated his game to lead his team. Not only did he take over key ball-handling but assumed play-making responsibilities as well.
Pierce's contributions are vital to the Celtics' success. He must play well and improve his offense in future games, or the Celtics have no chance of beating the Hawks.
Ever since Kevin Garnett took over the center position, the veteran has been playing like a new man. However, his early Game 1 struggles do raise concern.
During the first two quarters, KG was completely outplayed by Josh Smith. Going into halftime, Garnett only had two points on 1-9 shooting. However, he did bounce back in the second half to put up 20 points and 11 rebounds.
KG needs to be consistent for all four quarters if the Celtics want to win. As the emotional leader of the team, Garnett has to lead by example. Thankfully, he bounced back in Game 1, but in future games, he has to play well from the beginning.