For the second year in a row, the Celtics have bowed out in the conference finals to LeBron James and the Cavaliers. To be fair, things have certainly improved since the 2017 eastern conference finals, but the C’s still have work to do.
Here are four things Brad Stevens and Co. can improve on heading into next season.
The Celtics have certainly improved in the rebounding area, but it’s not quite there yet.
Take a look at their performance on the boards in the 2016-17 season. The C’s averaged just 42 total rebounds a game, averaging 32.9 on the defensive end and 9.1 on the offensive end. Their average of 42 rebounds a game was good for 27th in the entire league. Al Horford led the Celtics that season with 6.8 boards a game and Avery Bradley trailed just behind with 6.1 rebounds.
Fast forward to the 2017-18 season. The Celtics jumped up to a tie with the Nuggets for the seventh-ranked rebounding team at 44.5 rebounds a game. They’ve increased the rebounds on the defensive end up to 35.1 and 9.4 on the offensive glass.
That’s all well and good, but Cleveland, the 23rd-ranked rebounding team, out-rebounded the C’s three separate times in the eastern conference finals. The Cavs won all three of those games and lost Game 7’s rebounding battle by just one on the way to another trip to the NBA finals. Tristan Thompson looked unstoppable at times in the paint.
This problem became much more obvious following the absence of Kyrie Irving, but bringing back two all-stars in Irving and Gordon Hayward should fix this.
The Celtics had four leading scorers in this year’s playoff run with Horford, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum. This was a blessing and a curse. All four of these players had nights when they would seemingly disappear on the court.
There were times this postseason when the ball just wasn’t moving and the Celtics desperately needed someone to take over. The C’s needed a scorer that could go into isolation and carry the load for a few minutes. Tatum can certainly develop into that player, but he’s not there yet. Irving has proved time and time again he can do that for this team, while Hayward certainly did just that for the Jazz for years.
Putting together good starts
Why did it seem like the C’s were seemingly always playing from behind this year?
Simply put, they were one of the worst first-half teams in the entire NBA. The Celtics averaged just 51 points through the first two quarters, which was good enough for a tie with Memphis and Phoenix for the 24th spot in the NBA. Their field goal percentage of 44.8 percent through the first half was tied for fifth-worse in the league.
Luckily the C’s were a better second-half team. They were the 16th-best in terms of scoring (52.4 points) and field goal percentage (45.2 percent) in the second half. Even better, the Celtics have the league’s third-best field goal percentage in clutch time at 48.4 percent trailing just New Orleans and Philadelphia.
The C’s wouldn’t have to rely on crunch time if they can string together better starts.
The free throw line
This one’s a head-scratcher.
The Celtics were the sixth-best free throw shooting team in the 2015-16 season and improved to be the third-best team from the line last season. This season, they plummeted all the way down to 17th, shooting just 77.1 percent from the charity stripe. There were only three other playoff teams that ranked worse: Miami, Philadelphia and Oklahoma City. It’s very simple, the Celtics hope to be one of the elite teams in the NBA they cannot shoot 77.1 percent from the free throw line.
Full article @ 4 areas Celtics can improve upon heading into next season
Source: GreenStreet Blog