#Celtics captain Paul Pierce: "Chemistry sometimes doesn’t happen overnight like it did in ’08. We’re still trying to build it."
— Scott Souza (@scott_souza) October 22, 2012
I have spoken often about how important chemistry is for a team to succeed. There have been star studded teams that never won a championship because of an inability to develop that key component on the court. Many times problems in chemistry will result from players being unwilling to accept a role.
The great Celtics teams of the past all were comprised of players willing to put personal stats aside and fill the roles given to them. Think of Frank Ramsey, the first sixth man. Ramsey was good enough to be s starter but relished the sixth man role as it made so much sense for the team. The same was true of Kevin McHale, who embraced the sixth man role when he could have started on another team. History is full of Celtics who possibly could have won a scoring title (none ever have) but never looked for their own glory, instead playing for the good of the team.
I guess that's one reason I loved Perk so much. He didn't care about stats. He's always willing to put aside any personal stats to do the dirty work of defending and setting screens and boxing out so that his teammates could get the shot or the rebound.
Getting back to this Celtics' team. They have built great chemistry off the court. They started out even before training camp with a week-long trip to LA for some bonding. They started training camp in Europe, where the 2008 championship team also began their training camp. The trip to Turkey and Italy helped to solidify the chemistry that the players had begun building previously. By all accounts, this team has great off court chemistry. They all REALLY like each other.
But, off court chemistry isn't the whole story. With so many players new to the team along with the two players who played only briefly for the Celtics previously and then missed last season, you have 10 players who are learning the system and who are trying to gain chemistry on the court. Rondo is learning where each of them like the ball to be most effective. The players are learning to be ready for insane passes from Rondo when they least expect them. They are learning where to be on defense so that they don't allow easy baskets. They are learning all new plays and defensive sets.
In 2008, the chemistry on the court just seemed to happen along with the off court chemistry that also came so easily to them. Part of that is the fact that everyone was kind of pigeon holed into a role. This team has such versatile players that Doc is also working on different looks to give matchup problems for their opponents. That may take a little time because each player has to learn different positions in each set.
But one thing remains clear. Every player on this team is committed to doing whatever it takes to win. They are all willing to fill one role, two roles, three roles, or however many it takes to make the team successful. They are all working together with one common goal: Banner 18. And, even if the chemistry takes an extra week or two for this team, I have a very good feeling that it's going to be totally worth the wait.