Two games into the 'Post-Rondo' era, the Celtics have been able to thrive off of ball movement and a balanced offensive attack. They have picked up assists on 46 of the 75 field goals (61.3%) that they've scored against Miami and Sacramento, despite the fact that the leagues leading assist man is not on the floor. The team's assist leader over the past two games? Well that would be one Paul Pierce, who has dished out 14 helpers in the two wins combined.
So is this ushering in the new age of 'Paul Pierce - facilitator'? Umm, no. Well at least not according to Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who called Pierce out for trying a little too hard to get others involved, at the expense of his own offense, during the first half of last night's game.
I got on Paul at the beginning of the game because I thought he was trying to be the facilitator – he must’ve read some of your all dumb-ass articles – and then once he started moving the ball, he was great. Because he’s still our scorer. I said, ‘Paul, you’re still our scorer, by the way.’ But overall I thought everybody just played their role, and played great.”
Doc being blunt per usual, but I guess when you coach a guy for nine seasons, there's no reason to beat around the bush. After all, Pierce shot the ball just one time in the first 21 minutes of last night's game (scoring 0 points), before kicking it up a notch, scoring 16 points on 5-8 shooting the rest of the way. Doc knows that while more of the facilitating falls on Pierce's shoulders, the team cannot survive long term without The Truth scoring, and scoring a lot.
Another thing that this little back and forth between Pierce and Doc shows us, is just how good a relationship the two have. Remember that article from earlier in January that cited Pierce and Rondo standing outside of a huddle late in a game, and used it as fodder to question whether or not Rivers had lost the team? Well considering Rondo and Doc's emotional moment following the win against the Heat/Rondo's injury diagnosis, and now this story that highlights the extremely healthy line of communication between Rivers and Pierce, can't we officially put that theory to rest? Doc has not lost the team. No the Celtics have not played as well as expected, and like every coach of an underperforming team, some of that must fall on Doc, but it's not because the team has tuned him out. If anything, the past two games have shown that Rivers can still motivate the C's to play their best when the odds are stacked against them. Teams that quit on their coach normally quit at the first sign of turmoil, the Celtics have not.
It's also interesting to see Rivers basically glowing when talking about how the team got into their sets early, and executed them well. One consistent complaint by Doc this season was that the offense was 'stagnant', and that the team was not running their sets the way they had in practice. Perhaps with the security blanket of Rondo's playmaking ability gone, the Celts are settling into a rhythm of getting into their stuff early, and sticking with the game plan. Here's more Rivers from last night:
Really, I thought everyone did what they needed to do. I thought our bench came in and had an unbelievable run. And I thought offensively what we did is if a play worked, we didn’t try to get smart and run another play. We kept running the same play. And when that stopped, we went to another play. It’s simple, and it sounds simple, but that’s what we did.
Obviously we need a bigger sample size than two games, and God knows the schedule is a hell of a lot tougher in February than it was in January, but so far the team is embracing their underdog role. After all, this group has never played great when expectations were high (exception: 2008 - but even then the team got itself into big time trouble as playoff favorites), so maybe the 'Nobody believes in us' card is exactly what the needed to get going.
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Thanks to Green Street for the quotes Michael Dyer 1/31/2013 11:12:00 AM Tweet Edit