2010-11 Boston Celtics: Things They Need To Do Now, Improve On and Keep Doing
The Celtics are looking good. Very good.
The preseason games showcased the incredible depth that the Celtics have and don't have going into the season. They went 7-1 with the first unit logging limited minutes. The dark horse of the East, the C's are one of a handful of teams that can go head on with the Miami Heat.
While the new Celtics are looking in shape and ready to go at it again, there are some clear problems evident in the Green, which are blatant even from the preseason games. There are also many good points to counterbalance the bad ones.
Without further ado, here are the things I think the Celtics should do now, improve on and keep doing for this year.
What They Need To Improve On: Rondo's Jumper
Rondo's jumper has been a subject of much discussion since being in the spotlight. While I do not think his jump shot is making him a second-rate point guard, gaining one is, as many point out, what is going to take him to the next level.
In the preseason game against the Raptors, during the opening quarter, Rondo hit a buzzer-beater three. What looks to be a jumper is starting to emerge. Perhaps all there is left is to spread the word that Rondo does have an outside shot. Expect to see it coming soon.
On a very similar note and not warranting another slide, Rondo could do with making more of those free throws. Being a very threatening slasher, Rondo will get hacked. Making the free throws will help in those close games. In the preseason game, there seemed to be evidence of improvement against the Raptors, when he hit a barrage of free throws in a stretch.
If Rondo becomes a more consistent shooter, he and the Celtics will be making a very large step forward.
What They Need To Continue Doing: Using the Bench
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Last season, due to various injuries, the Celtics' bench was not utilized completely. Marquis Daniels is back and this year, Danny Ainge did a great job adding onto the already decent bench. I saw the bench being used to a much fuller extent this preseason. Now that the roster is essentially finalized, Doc should start devising more lineup combinations.
Ideally, the Celtics would start with the starters, aiming to establish the early lead and at least warming the starters up. Then, the bench would come in and retain or extend the lead, and no single player will be logging too many minutes and risk injury.
What They Need To Continue Doing: Controlling the Egos
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The Celtics are a very talented bunch. Many were once the face of their franchise, the man of their team. Now, they have decided to come together to pursue arguably the greatest achievement in basketball, the NBA Championship.
What Doc needs to do now is continue what he's been doing, keeping the team together as a team rather than 15 individuals.
With the addition of the two O'Neal's, the task just got tougher. Slap on goofball Nate Robinson, rookies without a clue and veterans who may not like advice and you have a job, Doc.
But the overall vibe coming from press conferences, interviews and preseason games is one of togetherness and team. Doc seems to be handling it quite well.
What They Need To Improve On: Turnovers and Sloppy Play
The Celtics lead the league in many aspects, including turnovers. They are definitely turnover-prone. This preseason saw the return of that high team turnover stat.
While they are a great defensive team, often forcing teams to come up with nothing in a possession, the Celtics are very turnover prone. The defensive endeavor becomes moot due to those turnovers.
The cause is mostly because of the half-court offense, involving a lot of passing. Not a problem unless they really overpass.
The problem is when there is at least one turnover every game coming from nothing aside from bad and tired play. An unreasonable lazy play is just not acceptable, especially if they aiming for the Championship.
What They Need To Keep Doing: Keeping the Guys Motivated
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Last year, there was a stretch when the Celtics seemed tired and almost bored of playing. While it turned completely around come playoffs, I think maintaining a mentality of going out there to win is vital, especially with this team.
Towards the end of the regular season especially, a motivated Celtics team, who will run after those loose balls and chase down the fast break, will go a long, long way.
Doc did it last year. Why not this year?
What They Need To Improve On: Closing Games
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The Celtics are unable to finish games. Surprisingly enough, they are fine in close games where the teams are within one or two points of each other for most of the game. The Celtics blow 10-20 point leads and come out on the losing end so easily it is not even funny. I am on my toes when they are up 20. I blink and the lead is blown. What happened?
Sloppy plays, combined with lackluster offense, leading to free points for the opponent and none for the C's. They brought in Nate Robinson to solve this problem of spurts of offensive staleness. He was a temporary band-aid slapped on the gaping gushing wound of lackluster offense as his high-octane offense recuperated the Celtics.
Now that they have even more offensive options, the problem of having a stagnant, sluggish offense is remedied as long as they stay aggressive and careful. Turnovers will still be high, but the ability to scrape some points will counterbalance those turnovers and retain those leads.
What They Need To Do Now: Avoid Injuries
Injuries. The bane of professional sports.
This year, the Celtics have got a much deeper frontcourt. The problem is with the small forward position. With Paul Pierce recently celebrating his 33rd birthday, he is bound to be haunted by injuries. Marquis Daniels is the only lifeline. Keeping Marquis Daniels in shape is imperative.
Kevin Garnett, while way past his former self, is still the deciding factor.
Injuries, while still being dangerous, are somewhat absolved by the Celtics with the incredible depth. All 15 players contribute on both ends and they even have two players in the Maine Red Claws on call in the worst-case scenario.
Don't get me wrong though. Losing any player is vital. The Celtics' main weapon will be their depth and versatility. Losing any player will mean losing some of their edge.
While injuries are mostly unintentional and cannot be completely prevented against, keeping the minutes low will go a long way in preventing them from happening.
What They Need To Do Now: Avoid Technical Fouls
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While I did not take too much care in ordering the previous slides, this is specifically put last, because it is definitely not least.
Kevin Garnett got ejected within seconds. That is what the officiating has become.
Officials used to have to tolerate the barking of the former Timberwolf. Now they don't. Call it unfair. Call it biased. But that is how it is now.
A lot of the guys on the Celtics team have the issue of too much mouth. In the heat of the game, they now have to stop letting their mouths run.
Sharing a piece of your mind with the officials is not the only T-able thing now. Giving overt gestures will also cost you one. They don't need to be directed at anyone. Big Baby's waving of his hands scored him a technical in the game against the Raptors.
What to do? There are some technicals that would smack them out of nowhere. But avoiding the ones that can be evaded will help. The Celtics are already prone to injuries, and they need not lose any more players to a suspension.