Biggest Adjustments Boston Celtics Must Make to Stay Alive in 2013 NBA Playoffs
Let's be honest: The Boston Celtics are basically finished.
They now trail the New York Knicks 3-0 in this best-of-seven series, a deficit no team in NBA history has overcome. The Celtics have also shown no signs to make us believe that they can be the first ballclub to do it, as they have yet to even score 80 points in a single game.
That being said, there are some adjustments that Boston can make to at least turn this into a more competitive series, and just about all of them involve the offense.
It's no secret that the C's desperately miss Rajon Rondo, as these first three games have silenced anyone who even thought for a second that the Celtics were a better team without their All-Star point guard.
Still, that is no excuse for the utter ineptitude Boston has displayed on the offensive end of the floor throughout this series.
For the sake of the Boston Celtics name, adjustments need to be made.
Move Quicker Offensively
Throughout the first three games of this series, the Celtics are taking far too long to get into their sets offensively. This is resulting in a lot of stalled possessions, leading to poor shots late in the clock.
Obviously, without Rondo at the helm and with Leandro Barbosa out for the season, Boston lacks a true floor general who can direct the offense. Because of that, they are forced to improvise, using Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley and Jason Terry as the primary ball-handlers.
Still, this does not mean that the C's should be unable create some movement.
On the first play of Game 3, Pierce made a nice cut and got free underneath the basket for a wide open layup. He would miss it, but it was still a nice play that we have not seen enough of during this series. Sure, Bradley has made some nice cuts here and there, but that has been it.
For the most part, the Celtics' offense has been reduced to forcing the ball to Pierce out on the perimeter and asking him to pull a rabbit out of a hat by making something happen by himself. That is not good basketball, and it is also not Celtic basketball.
It would be nice to see Boston generate some kind of crispness in Game 4. Whether or not they can with the limited pieces they have is another story entirely.
Take Better Care of the Basketball
The Celtics are turning the ball over an average of 16 times per game in this series. That is far too much, especially against a team like the Knicks that is rather prudent with the rock.
A lot of the turnovers have been sloppy, too. How many times have we seen Iman Shumpert merely take the ball out of Pierce's hands? How about Jason Terry trying to force a pass between Steve Novak's legs during Game 3?
Not that there is a such thing as a "good" turnover, but some of the miscues we have seen Boston make have been inexcusable and are a big reason for the 3-0 deficit.
Again, a lot of this has to do with the fact that the C's have no true point guard on the floor, but these guys are professionals. They should not be giving up the basketball the way they have been throughout these first three contests.
If the Celtics want to have any chance of even winning a game against New York, they need to be more careful.
Get Out in Transition
The Celtics are having a hard enough time generating points in the half-court set. Because of that, they absolutely must score some points in transition during Game 4.
The problem with that is, to get out and run, you generally need to force turnovers, and no team in the league was better than the Knicks at protecting the ball this season. That's why Boston needs to turn up the intensity defensively and force New York into miscues.
The C's' defense actually has been pretty good. The 90 points the Knicks scored in Game 3 was New York's highest point total of the series. However, they are not coaxing the Knicks into making mistakes.
While the Celtics are coughing up the ball left and right, New York is averaging only 11.3 turnovers thus far. That has to change. Boston needs to suffocate the Knicks on the perimeter and force them to put the ball on the floor. The less clean ball movement there is, the more of a chance turnovers will occur.
Change the Rotation
Clearly, the rotation Doc Rivers has been rolling with is not working. So, it may be time to get some fresh faces in there.
For example, can Chris Wilcox and Shavlik Randolph see the floor please? These guys were both very productive bench players during the regular season, so why have they been exiled in the playoffs? The Celtics can certainly use some second-chance opportunities on offense, and both Wilcox and Randolph could provide that.
Also, Terrence Williams needs to get some burn. He has played only nine minutes in this series despite being the most capable "point guard" that Boston has on their roster. When Rivers saw Bradley throwing all of those awful entry passes in Game 1, he should have went to Williams right there and then. Williams demonstrated some solid floor vision this season and could help this team in this series.
Rivers must try something—anything—to get his team going.