The Cutting Floor: Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, and Moving Without the Ball
Stop me if you've heard this one: Rajon Rondo has the ball at the 3 point line. Kevin Garnett sets a pick. Meanwhile, the other big sets a screen under the basket, and the Wing runs through and gets to the corner. Rondo drives then dishes to the corner, open 3. With guys like Eddie House, James Posey, and oh, just the best 3-point shooter ever, this play has been a staple of Celtics basketball over the past 5 seasons. Here's a classic example (without the pick-and roll, KG setting the baseline screen). However, as the team has become less explosive, we have relied too much on trying to get shooters open, unable to get easy looks at the basket.
During the second half of last year, Avery Bradley introduced a new dimension to our offense with a flurry of effective cuts. This season, Boston is poised to build on its off-ball dynamic with Jeff Green , newcomer Courtney Lee, and hopefully a healthy Avery Bradley as well as Chris Wilcox. Ideally, Rondo will still find open shooters like Paul Pierce(who sometimes cuts, but often spots up or takes players off the dribble), Jason Terry, and Lee, but also be able to look inside to find cutters for dunks. If the new unit's potential comes to fruition, the Celtics should have much more success on offense and create matchup nightmares. Green is key here because if he gets his 3-point shooting back to the 39% mark he hit 4 seasons ago, only a handful of defenders can guard him off-the dribble, in the post, spotting up, and cutting. If Jeff can continue to be a threat with the ball in his hands, he will have a huge impact putting pressure on guys like LeBron James or Danny Granger. Courtney Lee is money from the corner but also has a knack for finding lanes to the rim. Already we have seen early glimpses of success, such as this sweet jam against Milan. How many plays like that do you remember from last season? Sadly, you can probably count them on one hand. In the past, most of our players were either great shooters such as Posey or Ray, or great cutters such as Tony Allen. Now we have three-dimensional offensive weapons who can do both.
This year's team will clearly be deadlier off the dribble with the additions of JET and Lee on top of Jeff Green's return. We can also be better from 3 despite losing Ray since there are just more guys who can knock down the long ball. Proficiency in each of these categories benefits one another; good shooters free lanes to the rim just as good ball-handlers draw attention that leaves shooters open. Constant activity also allows the bigs to sneak in for uncontested dunks, not to mention hitting the offensive glass (I'm looking at you Sully!) when their man goes to stop a baseline move. Ultimately, we have the coach and the Point Guard to pull off a multi-faceted offense, and quick cutting from athletic wings could push this team over the hump to claim Banner #18.