Bob Cousy always is very candid when he is calling the game with Mike and Tommy. He made a very revealing statement the night of our opening game.
"I've seen pretty much what I saw briefly in the exhibition season. It's just guys run up and down the floor. No offensive cohesion whatsoever. "Everything is one-on-one moves in the half-court. And the alleged transition game that we were supposed to see, I haven't seen develop either. Occasionally they've run, and I think that's when they've looked halfway decent a couple of times. There's a lot of work to be done here."
We have heard Doc talk about our running game over and over again but we haven't seen much of it. In the preseason, often we would lapse into a half court game when our starters were on the floor and we would run with the second team, but not a true transition game. I think back to the teams of the 60's and 80's and how they ran the transition game. On many possessions, the past Celtics teams would never put the ball on the floor. Passing is so much more efficient than dribbling and yet over and over we see Telfair, Rondo, West, Allen and Pierce dribble the ball up the court. A true transition offense advances the ball with as little dribbling as possible and yet our players constantly put the ball on the floor rather than using the pass to quickly get the ball up the floor before the defenses can set up. One of the few players on this team who always looks up and gets the outlet pass up the floor is Perk. Otherwise, as Johnny Most would say, we do way too much fiddling and diddling out there.
Another thing that we can see from the classic transition offense is that the closest player will inbound the ball. Our team almost always waits for a big to take the ball out, allowing the other team's defense to set up. This is something that we need to consider if we really want to have a running game.
In a transition game, we should run on every possession. We should run after a made basket, after a free throw, on every rebound. We don't do this. Once again, our point guards, or in some cases, whoever rebounds, dribbles the ball up the court, allowing the opposing defenses to set up. We need to run and to advance the ball with a pass as much as possible. I see players running and getting ahead, but they aren't being rewarded with a pass ahead as the ball is being dribbled up the court.
Now, since Doc talks about running in just about every press conference, and we aren't running, why aren't we running? With a young team of athletic players, I just can't believe that these players can't run. Every one of these players is coachable and none have a bad attitude and so I can't believe that they won't run. So it brings me back as to why they aren't running.
From yesterday's Herald, when questioned about going to Pierce over and over in the last quarter, he said
“It was the play that was called.”
When the coach calls a play, the players are going to try to execute it because if they don't, experience has shown that chances are they will be on the bench for the next play. Is Doc slowing our game down by calling too many plays? A true transition game allows for the point guards to create and to find the open man. As long as they are running plays, they aren't going to be running. They are going to try to execute that play and that slows down the game.
This wasn't just first game jitters, because as Cousy said, it was what we saw in the preseason as well. Could it be that Doc just doesn't know how to run a fast break team? Maybe he is trying to micromanage the players and not letting them go on insincts. Hopefully we will get to see a true transition game this season, not just an alleged one.