Iso Ball doesn’t work in the current NBA
Iso is simply short for isolation and is when a player isolates themselves against one defender and then drives the ball or takes some sort of jumper.
All three of those players have exceptionally high usage rates, and their offense would go through the said player, with the possession typically ending up in them taking a shot. Of course, teams still run isolation plays, but very few teams actually run it as their primary offense.
For much of the ladder part of the season including the playoffs, the Boston Celtics reverted to this seemingly outdated style o play. Every offensive trip seemed like it was a pass to a player on the wing, followed by a quick shot.
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The Celtics rarely set up any sort of offense with their first unit, and the ball never moved with effectiveness. A team with such great talent should be able to move the ball and find the best available shots, but between unnecessary midrange fadeaways and contested three-pointers, the Celtics played inefficient basketball.
Looking deeper into it, one will notice that the Celtics were actually amongst the league leaders in assists. That was in large part to the second unit actually running Brad’s offense, and that some of those fast field goal attempts actually went in.
Jayson Tatum, Kyrie Irving, Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, and Jaylen Brown at times were all guilty of doing this and seemingly wanted to “get theirs” rather than actually help the team. It is really hard to win basketball games when a defense can sit back in the zone. and not have their defense stretched out at all.
If shooting is off, it makes winning nearly impossible. Be it that the Boston Celtics had one of the worst shooting clips in franchise history for a series, they had no chance.
This also made Brad Stevens look particularly bad, as he is, in fact, the coach of the team. What I think fans and much of the media are failing to realize though is that Stevens was designed to fail from the beginning. He had to have an offense in which Irving, Tatum, Brown and all got offensive touches. Then, he had to fight the constant struggle of implementing Gordon Hayward into the lineup, who clearly just was not as good as Marcus Morris was for much of the season.
Rozier and Smart were both viable backup point guard options, so having them get a significant role off the bench also proved challenging. With so many changing variables, it proved just too much for coach Stevens, and as a result, nothing consistent could ever get going because of it.