Boston Celtics: Offense needs to step up ahead of tough schedule

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 25: Jayson Tatum
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 25: Jayson Tatum /

The Boston Celtics are facing adversity for the first time this season.  They need to get their offense in gear as they approach a tough stretch in the schedule.

Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving told reporters that the team still has room to grow following a rough loss to the basement-dwelling Orlando Magic on Sunday afternoon.

The C’s have had their longest losing streak of the 2017-18 season, with three straight home defeats handed out by the New Orleans Pelicans, Philadelphia 76ers, and the aforementioned Magic squad.

It’s been no secret that Brad Steven’s team has been sub-par on the offensive end this year, coming in with a rating of 104.2 according to Basketball Reference , which is middle of the pack.  The 99.7 defensive rating that the unit has (which is first in the league) is really what has led to their incredible 34-13 record.

Ever since the London game however, it seems like Boston’s porous offense has caught up to them.  After posting 113 in the Pelicans loss, the C’s had one of their worst offensive performances of the entire year against Philadelphia on Thursday; scoring only 80 points, and shooting 40 percent from the field, and 24 percent from three-point range in the loss.

Part of the problem in that contest (other than the fact Kyrie was out with a shoulder injury) was Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum’s inability to make the three ball.  Both of them combined to go 3-10 in that game.  Brown has shot around 26 percent from three in the month of January, compared to around 40 percent in the first three months of the season.

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Stevens likes to run this drive-and-kick style offense, but the forwards have to make the shots.  Recently, I’ve noticed how most of Boston’s looks from three have been wide open.  They just haven’t made them.

Based off of the eye test, I’ve also realized that the Boston Celtics usually have an abysmal quarter shooting from the field that eventually costs them the game. According to CSN, the Celtics score the lowest average points in the second quarter of any team in the NBA, with 24 ppg.  They had a 59-58 lead going into halftime against Orlando, when Boston managed only 12 points in the entire third quarter.  By the start of the fourth, they were down by 19.

Kyrie returning to the lineup for Sunday’s game was integral, as he finished with 40 points on the afternoon.  Even Brown shot 50 percent from the field in that contest.  The defense is what surprisingly faltered, but that doesn’t occur often.  The horrendous third quarter was a factor as well.

With a tough West Coast schedule ahead, including games against the improving Lakers, the red-hot Clippers, and the mammoth Golden State Warriors, Stevens must find a way to fix these glaring holes before opponents start really exposing them.  It can only be so long for the offense to catch up to the defense’s level.

Next: The 5 faces of the Boston Celtics: The coach, the stars and the future

Hopefully, it happens sooner rather than later.