From the GreenLab: Engineering Offense for Pierce | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
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From the GreenLab: Engineering Offense for Pierce

Paul Pierce put on a performance for the ages in Game 2 at Philips Arena in Atlanta to lead the Celtics to a huge victory to tie up the series at 1-1.  The Celtics are once again tied at 1-1 but this time they will be on the road in Philadelphia.  Pierce has struggled ever since his mysterious knee injury during a shoot around before a game against the Hawks.  He's hurt, and it doesn't seem like it will magically get better and with Andre Iguodala defending him, it makes it that much more difficult.  But there are ways to engineer some good looks for him.

Doc discussed this earlier today and while my examples might not be exactly what he has in mind, they could try running them to get Pierce going.  The videos below will highlight some relatively simple plays that mostly involve Rajon Rondo working from the high post.  The great thing about these sets of plays is that Pierce and Ray Allen can be interchangeable on several of the options.  Also, some of the options show how to free up Brandon Bass for some easy looks as well.  When both P and Ray are healthy, this is essentially a "pick-your-poison" set, but for now, let's just say it's a solid way of engineering clean looks.

Pick Your Poison 1 (@LAL):

  • Pierce initiates the offense as Rondo sets up at the elbow, posting up Kobe.  Pierce makes the post entry pass and Rondo turns and fakes the low post entry pass to Ray who is defended by Fisher.  Pierce then cuts through and sets the screen for Ray who knocks down the easy jumper:


Pick Your Poison 2 (@LAL):

  • Same exact setup, except the end result is Pierce in the low post with a favorable matchup against Fisher, which leads to a foul on Fisher.


Pick Your Poison 3 (@LAL):

  • This time, Bass is able to pop out in a sneaky way as everyone is focused on Pierce and Ray.


Pick Your Poison 3b (@LAL):

  • Same as the above, except this time KG sets a screen for Bass to free him up for the jumper.


Pick Your Poison 4 (@LAL):

  • Same setup with Pierce posting up Blake.  This time, as LA focuses on Pierce again, it spaces everything out and allows KG to drill the jumper with the help of mismatches and the defense scrambling to cover.


Pick Your Poison 1 (@LAC):

  • Same setup again, with the end result of Pierce cutting to Rondo's right, setting the screen for Ray to free him up for the three.


Pick Your Poison 2 (@LAC):

  • Same setup as the one above, but this time as Pierce sets the screen for Ray, he pops out to the corner and Ray re-screens for Pierce while taking his man (Mo Williams) with him.  Pierce misses, but that's a shot he can make.


Pick Your Poison 3 (@LAC):

  • Here, Ray and Pierce just keep re-screening each other in a carousel formation, eventually messing things up enough to free Pierce for a lay-up that Blake Griffin blocks.  Still a solid option.


Pick Your Poison 4 (@LAC):

  • Just a cleaner way of freeing up Pierce for the lay-up above.


Pick Your Poison 1 (@SAC):

  • Perfect example of how Ray and P are interchangeable with this set.  This is the same play as as option 4 against the Clippers, except this time it's Ray being freed up for the lay-up.


Pick Your Poison 2 (@SAC):

  • A slightly different version here where instead of Pierce making the high post entry pass to Rondo, Rondo screens for Pierce to obtain the favorable matchup with Jimmer Fredette on Pierce.  Pierce can work him to the basket easily with the majority of the movement going straight down the middle with little lateral movement.


Pick Your Poison (vs PHI regular season):

  • Here's an example of the Celtics running the back door cut version of this play for Pierce against the Sixers in the regular season.  Of course, all the naming rights go to the great Tommy Heinsohn.


Pick Your Poison 1 (vs PHI Game 1):

  • They actually ran this play in Game 2 vs Philly albeit without Pierce dropping down to screen for Ray.


Pick Your Poison 2 (vs PHI Game 2):

  • Almost the exact same play, but Pierce fakes a screen masking a curl play for Ray who is able to slip to the hoop for a lay-up.


Rondo as the Screener (all examples are plays from the Houston game on 3/6):

  • Here as Rondo brings the ball up he passes to Bass in the high post.  He then sets off an avalanche of screens to free up Pierce curling without the ball.  The idea here is twofold: 1) to have Pierce move laterally without the ball, thus limiting a turnover and 2) to pick off his man and the helper, allowing him to dart through the lane in as straight of a line as possible.


  • In these options, Rondo hands the ball off to Pietrus on the right wing and as Pierce cuts through the top of the key, Rondo sets a sneaky box-out screen on Pierce's man, freeing him up for a path to the basket.
  • In the second example (0:16 mark), Houston figures it out but it still works to the Celtics advantage because now Rondo's man, Kyle Lowry is forced to switch on Pierce creating a favorable matchup.
  • The final example (0:28 mark) Rondo cuts through and Houston snuffs it out successfully, but Pierce is still allowed to work one-on-one.


Finally, one example of Pierce screening for Ray to free him up for a three that doesn't require much exertion for either.  Rondo dumps it in to KG in the post and as he does this, Pierce screens for Ray in the corner to pop out, allowing KG to kick it out to Ray for the open bomb.


So those are a handful of ways to help them engineer some easy looks.  Easy in the sense that they're not dribbling around too much or causing too much strain where the injuries are.  Doc is a lot smarter than me so I'm sure he'll have something a lot better.

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  • paul

    Listen, this is great video X and O work. I love the high post for Rondo, and the options he can work off it. In fact, as he becomes a better shooter, I forsee more options from there in the future. I’d love to see these plays tonight. Great. And let’s set screens for Pierce, and all kinds of stuff.
    But come on, the problem with Monday night was that this team was standing around a lot, acting like its objective was to kill shotclock, not score points. This was the bad offense that almost killed our season; now it’s fixing to kill our post season.
    And should we really build our offense around ‘getting someone going’? We lost on Monday night primarily because we did this with Bass. Yeah, I know, wise people like yourselves know that’s not true. Except that it was true. And if we want to get someone going, shouldn’t it be Rondo? He is after all our best player. yeah, I know he sucks and he’s just a disco dancer. Sorry. I keep forgetting that it’s going to be 2008 forever in your minds…
    Oh, and don’t you love that sexy ‘no offensive rebound’ policy of Doc’s? We could be scoring forty points a game and they’d still be running away from the offensive board like it was covered with manure, as it so often is when the offense stagnates…

  • Dustin Chapman

    It’s obvious that the Celtics are a poor rebounding team, but you can’t have the whole team crashing the offensive glass while Philly sends multiple guys streaking up the floor for an easy bucket off of all of our misses. In this series especially, transition defense is more important than offensive rebounding. Not only is Philly very athletic and killer in transition, but they’re a good halfcourt defensive team, too. So if you turn the ball over and shoot 40% or so, and still decide you want to crash the offensive glass, you’re gonna get killed.