Last year the Celtics had 4 glaring weaknesses in their game. Defense, Rebounding, Turnovers, and inconsistency. The question that faces us going into this season is whether or not they did anything to improve in those areas.
Our team defense last season was virtually non-existent. We could score almost at will, but couldn't stop the other team from scoring when we needed to. In particular, we couldn't defend the pick and roll at all. Doc made a comment that felt that the team would get the defense as they worked on offense because after all, while they were practicing offense, half the team had to play defense. Danny made quite a point at the end of the season that the defense had to improve. Doc did say that the team would be working on a new defense this season. Since they didn't have any last season, any defense would be an improvement.
As for our players, Al has mentioned a couple of times that he has worked on defense this summer. Gomes also mentioned working on defensive moves. Rajon Rondo is a very strong defender and could set the tone for a much better defense over all. We added defense by subtraction as well. Blount and Raef are no longer with us and both were defensive liabilities.
We were 26th in rebounding last season. Doc played Raef and Blount the majority of the minutes at center last season and neither of them were rebounders. Al was injured most of the season. Perk was injured just as he started to get minutes. Both should be healthy this season and finally get more playing time. both should also average double figures in rebounds and that will be big for us as a team.
The main improvement in rebounding should come as the result of the hiring of Clifford Ray. As an assistant coach who specializes in teaching big men, he has had miraculous results. If you follow his career, teams where he has been an assistant have been among the league's best in rebounding. Before and after his tenure, they were often among the worst. That could be a huge factor for us. He has been working with our young bigs all summer and we can expect some good results. Powe is an excellent rebounder and should be able to help in that area as well. We have other players who are good rebounders at their positions including Jones, West, Rondo, Pierce, and Gomes.
At the trading deadline, the Celtics were 29th out of 30 teams in turnovers per game at over 17 per game. By the end of the season they were still 29th but had just over 16 per game. In order to win, they have to take better care of the ball. Have we addressed this issue? I believe so. For one thing, two of the bigger offenders were traded mid season. Having 2 pure points to run the team should help as well. We should see fewer times when Pierce will dribble up the floor and into a triple team and turn the ball over. Hopefully another year of playing together and of experience will keep them from making the rookie errors that caused many of the turnovers last season.
Finally inconsistency plagued the team all season. They would win big one night and everyone would be ready for a big surge and then they would lose just as big the next night. They couldn't string together 3 wins in a row all season. We are very young and with youth often comes inconsistency. But also, many of our young players are entering their 3rd or 4th seasons and should be getting past rookie and sophomore mistakes. As with turnovers, another year of playing together and of experience should help with the inconsistency. Having a pure point guard to run the offense should help as well.
We should see improvement in all of these areas this year. Between removing problem players, bringing in players who will help and with each of our young players working hard this off season, and with Clifford Ray here to coach, we should expect to improve in all of these areas.
Terrific piece, FL. I'd list those 4 as my top pet peeves of last year's team as well. Perkins and Jefferson are big upgrades on the boards over Blount and Raef. They are going to get their hands on more rebounds and they are going to win more rebounding battles in the trenches than Blount and Raef did.
Turnovers should also improve since we've got smarter players now. Wally isn't nearly as turnover prone as Ricky Davis was (the player he took over for). Telfair may be a TO liability if he forces too many things, but it's going to be Doc's job to get Telfair to play smart basketball.
Being that majority of the team has remained intact, chemistry should improve, and with that, our consistency should also improve. Its my belief that as players understand their roles and know what they are tasked to do on a nightly basis, they are more comfortable and therefore, will be more consistent.
As for the defense end, I think this ties in with rebounding. When we become a better rebounding team, our opponent's FG% will drop. Seems like Doc is going to try a different strategy on defense, where plays are funneled into the middle, and as long as Perk and Ratliff are in position, we should be able to come up bigger on defense.