We're all a little baffled by the C's offensive offense over the past couple of months. So I decided to take a look at just how bad it's been… in hopes of finding an obvious area for improvement.
The Celtics are averaging a season low 20.7 assists per game in March. They were almost at 27 in October/November. At that point, they were taking more than 78 shots per game. In March, the Celtics are taking 73.5. So they're getting almost 5 fewer shots per game now than they were at their season best.
What can the reason be? They're down a full steal and more than a full blocked shot per game from then, so that's a couple of possessions right there that could turn into shot attempts. Amazingly, March is the lowest turnover month of the season for the C's. In fact, they hit a high of 14.6 TO/gm in December, and have fallen steadily since then (13.6 in Jan, 13.3, in Feb, 12.9 in Mar). So aside from a couple of REALLY careless games, the C's are taking care of the ball.
All that adds up to is a slower pace and more selfish play. The C's are walking the ball up the floor more, and they're playing a more individual style of basketball. In November, the C's scored 102.4 ppg, they were averaging 26.3 assists, they were shooting an unreal 51%. In March, they're scoring 91.5 ppg, with those 20.7 ast, while shooting 46.2%.
Drop in assists + significant drop in FG% = obviously dramatic drop in scoring.
Simple formula. So what's the answer? The same answer I have for when a party slows down and gets boring.
MORE SHOTS FOR EVERYONE!!
The C's need to pick up the pace, get out in transition a little more, and get everyone the ball just a little more. How many transition 3's has Ray been making recently? The C's need to start making offensive adjustments now to how they're being defended and start moving the ball more.
Which bring us to our most dramatic numbers of this piece. Here's Rondo's month-by-month assist breakdown: October: 16.7, November: 13.4, December: 13.0, January: 11.1, February: 10.5, March: 8.6.
Rajon Rondo is nowhere near getting the assists he used to. Sure, he's shooting a little more, but not dramatically more. His shots from 16-23 feet have doubled since December (2 to 4), while the shots at the rim have gone from more than 5 to start the season to less than 4 in March.
Teams are playing off him more and daring him to shoot. And he's taking the shots. And that's not necessarily a bad thing but it's also cutting off the ball movement to rest of the guys. It's no shock that Ray Allen has been less effective because he's been the most dependent on the assist to set up his scoring. No one's feeding him for those little 10 foot jumpers in the lane he used to get to establish himself early. And that's leading to drop offs in his other numbers.
If the Celtics are willing to live and die with Rondo shooting a 16-23 footer 4 times a game, then this is what we're going to get. Rondo needs to use that open space to go back to attacking and the C's need to adjust their offense to spring Ray Allen despite opponents using a "free safety" approach. But more than anything, the C's need to get out into the open court and take advantage of the confusion created by the running. Even if that means shorter stints for the starters, then so be it. If the C's are going to be effective again on offense, they need to pick up the pace and get more shots. It's already a delicate balance as it is. The C's can't afford to be dribbling the air out of the ball anymore.