Ball movement lacking in opening loss

April, 21, 2013
NEW YORK -- When the Celtics take the floor Tuesday night for Game 2 of their opening round playoff series against the New York Knicks, coach Doc Rivers is hoping to see a more cohesive effort from his team.

Rivers pinpointed a lack of ball movement as one of Boston's chief shortcomings in its 85-78 loss in Game 1, as the Celtics relied on too many isolation plays and didn't show enough trust in one another to keep the ball moving.

"We did lose our trust a little bit," Rivers said Sunday prior to the team's film session. "We had three or four next passes where we clearly had to make the next pass and we decided to hold it and shoot it. And a lot of people say, ‘Well, guys are being selfish.’ It’s not that at all. It’s guys want to win. Sometimes they want to win so much they get in the way of themselves, and I thought we did a great job of that (Saturday). You could see it.

[+] EnlargeJeff Green
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty ImagesJeff Green and the Celtics did too much shooting and not enough passing in Game 1.
"It’ll be great today when we watch (the film) because you can see several guys -- they know they should make the pass. One guy actually took the shot (but knew he should have made the pass). He knew it, but still shot it. But they want to win and that’s a good thing. And now you’ve got to get them to understand you’ve got to win together. You’re not going to do this by yourself. There’s no single guy that could.”

Not even Rajon Rondo, whose absence is, of course, being felt, though Rivers scoffed at the idea that the All-Star point guard would have solved all of Boston's problems on Saturday. Even though Boston committed 21 turnovers and didn't move the ball enough, Rivers said those are mistakes the team is capable of correcting, and missing Rondo isn't a factor in that.

"That had nothing to do with not having a point guard," Rivers said. "We made bad decisions, and it wasn’t Avery (Bradley) only. I mean, Paul (Pierce) had six turnovers, Jeff (Green) had six or whatever. ... Avery could have made some better decisions and so could have everyone else, but we made just some unbelievable decisions with the ball. And I thought a lot of it, we just became impatient."

Ball movement has been crucial for the Celtics since Rondo went down, as it's kept everyone involved in the team offense. Rivers acknowledged that the lack of ball movement on Saturday factored into Jason Terry's 0-for-5 shooting performance, as well as Jordan Crawford not attempting a single field goal.

Rivers knows that Boston's over-reliance on isolation plays in the second half of Saturday's loss, particularly with Pierce and Green, can't happen throughout the rest of the series.

"What I saw and what I hope they see is that Paul is really good, so is Jeff, but you can’t just lean on them to say, ‘Win it,’ and it turned into that in the second half," Rivers said. "They just kept throwing it to them and standing and said, ‘Go do something.’ That’s just hard to win that way.”

Added Kevin Garnett: "I think a lot of times when you’re trying to be aggressive or you’re trying to create some momentum, you try to do it more by yourself, and that’s not the way we got here. We got here with being together and sharing the ball. So you want to leave that alone, build some trust, and you want to continue to be consistent.”

While the Celtics couldn't rectify their issues during Saturday's loss, the two off days prior to Tuesday's Game 2 should be more than enough time for them to remind themselves that their winning formula is built on sharing the ball, keeping everyone involved and making the extra pass.

"It’s about our offensive concept and that’s what we preach each and every day," Pierce said. "Ball movement. Make the extra pass. It doesn’t matter who you put out there on the court or how long they’ve been there. That’s our system. We know when we play that way, we’re successful."



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Jeff Green
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9