Last week, Pierce came out and said that other teams usually run the first half of the year and then abandon the running game. He also added that the Celtics have the players that will be able to run all year. To a man, the Celtics have talked about finally running this season. Danny went out and got two of the fastest point guards in the league to be able to run all game. It all sounded good. We would finally see an uptempo game in Boston again.
Then the season started and we saw the team lapse into a half court game more and more and run less and less. The team was still talking about running, though. There were Pierce's comments from last week. On 11/7, Telfair had this to say:
"That makes it a lot easier knowing the ball is going to be in my hands, and we're going to play an up-tempo game, which stresses my abilities. Now it's just a matter of going out there and doing it."
Then Doc had this to say:
"I like both of them. They have great vision and great speed. I like the fact that for 48 minutes we can play at the same speed,"
And we had this quote from Al as reported by Scott Souza:
"The second unit is the energy team," he said. "A lot of people don't know this, but on the second unit we run totally different plays sometimes from the first unit. We have our own little selection of plays that we run that fit for us."
Ok, I guess that means that everyone is on the same page and even if the first team slows down and runs a half court, at least the second team will be running, right? Guess again. Today there were two quotes that really surprised me (but really shouldn't have since Doc is our coach). First, is this quote from Pierce:
"But you look at our starting lineup and it's really not a speed lineup. You have Sebastian [Telfair]. You have [Rajon] Rondo. You have Delonte West, but you have me on the wing and Wally [Szczerbiak]. We're pretty athletic guys, but we're not some of the fastest guys in the world along with Theo [Ratliff] and Ryan Gomes. So, I think with that lineup, we've got to be an opportunistic running team. The second unit is going to be more of a running team because they're a lot faster and more athletic."
Ok, this is something we kind of felt was coming because the starting lineup never did run. In spite of Telfair talking about the uptempo game giving him a new chance and being happy that this team will play to his strengths, and in spite of Pierce saying that he welcomed the running game and felt we could run all year, the starting lineup has lapsed into a half court team.
But the second team will still run, right? Wrong! Here is the second quote that really struck me. In Bulpett's notebook, we get this little gem when talking about why Rondo was sitting in the last game.
Rondo, the coach explained, is a victim of position limitations and the fact the Celts no longer are playing the up-tempo style that fits his talents.
WHAT??? The Celtics are no longer playing the up tempo style that fits his talents? Even on the second team? We are 4 games into the season and no longer looking to run? After spending the whole preseason working on a separate set of plays for the second team so that they can run, we are no longer playing the uptempo style that fits Rondo's talents and Rondo has to work on skills to fit into the half court game. Is it just me, or is something wrong with this picture? Up until 4 days ago, they were still talking about running and how we can run all season and that we finally have the players to run, and now Doc is saying we are no longer playing the uptempo game. Do we need any more evidence that Doc should go?
Danny has worked for 3 years to make this a running team. He went out and got two very fast PGs to run the team. If we weren't going to run, he could have kept West as the PG who did a good job running a half court team. Now we have two PGs better suited to the running game and we are no longer playing the up tempo game. I haven't been this disgusted since Pitino was the coach. Could taking a team built to run and making them a half court team constitute tanking? Something needs to be done and soon, or this season will be even worse than last and some very talented players are going to take a step back in their development.
Run, that's what we must do. Looking at the past champions, they could all run. The Spurs could run, the Pistons could run, and the Lakers could run. You have to have a strong halfcourt offense because when the game is close, teams have to execute plays in the halfcourt offense. But the uptempo game is what keeps teams from going into scoring slumps and its what brings in easy points.
If Doc cannot get our guys to run, Ainge needs to find a coach who can. And if certain players aren't willing to run, its time to move them as well. Wally has been really good about running, and unofficially, I think he's the leader in fastbreak points on the team (which isn't saying much because we hardly run). Telfair cannot run if no one is running with him. And Rajon is an amazingly gifted player, but he received a DNP because Doc is burying the running game. This is upsetting.