Every team has to have things they are good at, right? Rebounding, shooting, defending. The bad teams might not be better than other teams at anything, but they all have their strengths and their weaknesses. The Boston Celtics are no different.
Last week, local legend and former BC star and Celtics player Dana Barros said the Celtics need to find their identity, fast.
He said, "We have to try to find an identity, immediately. I think we had an identity wehn Doc, Paul, Ray, and KG were here those six years. We knew who we were — we were a defensive-minded team. I'm not sure what our identity will be. Figuring out what we do best will be difficult."
Well that is not a ringing endorsement from a man involved with the team's public relations department, however is it true. This team is going to have to dig deep to figure out what it is good at and how to utilize it and get some wins this season.
Taking bad threes early in the shot clock is not something the Celtics should strive to be good at (Jordan Crawford and Gerald Wallace we are looking at you). The defensive fortitude that the Celtics showed in this era of success was anchored by Kevin Garnet, and maybe some of his mentees can come through and prove their worth.
Avery Bradley is an elite defender at the shooting guard position. Jared Sullinger was a top defensive player per Sports Synergy's Points Per Possession stat. Rajon Rondo is a good defender that takes too many risks and will no longer have KG behind him to bail him out. Danny Ainge has stock piled big guys, so maybe one or two of them can develop some rim-protecting skills.
So, defense is one thing they could be good at.
However, there is something else that the Celtics could potentially do very well this season if they feel so inclined: transition basketball.
Phil Pressey, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, and Jeff Green all like to get out into the open court and score. Before the Brooklyn Nets started wearing cinder blocks on their feet, Gerald Wallace was a fantastic transition player. Phil Pressey ran one of the most potent college basketball offenses of the past decade at Missouri. Jeff Green and MarShon Brooks are young athletic wing players who can get out and run. And if Courtney Lee can find his stroke from the corner, he could be a valuable trailer getting open looks (like that guy Ray Allen that used to play for the Celtics).
This identity seems like the best option for a young team that does not have a great ability to stretch the floor in the half-court. Rondo, Green, and Bradley do not strike fear into opponents as shooters, so defenses will pack the paint and just make them shoot. So running will help the Celtics get those easy points.
The issue with being a run and gun team is that the Celtics will need to make defensive stops. It's hard to run when the other team is scoring, so if their defense can be effective and they can get out into transition, it will possibly give this Celtics team a new identity based on the old defensive tenets that helped them win for the past six years.
There were many times in the past 5 years when Danny Ainge was standing and imploring the Celtics to run. It seems like this team might need to be told to slow down every once in a while.
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