Celtics Settling for Jump Shots Unlikely to Change Until They Up Intensity at Defensive End


Celtics Settling for Jump Shots Unlikely to Change Until They Up Intensity at Defensive EndPHILADELPHIA — It is only fitting that we engage in another mail call here in the birthplace of the United States Postal Service.

The postal service was established on July 26, 1775, and that also is how long ago it seems like the Celtics held a 2-1 lead over the Sixers and looked to be cruising to victory in the Eastern Conference semifinals. A trip to the conference finals no longer seems assured, creating more pressing questions for the hobbled championship hopefuls.

Questions were few and far between this week, but there were two good questions that deserve some attention here.

Why are the Celtics settling for jump shots instead of attacking the rim and getting the calls? — Matthew Wilson (@mesomean), via Twitter

This has really been the Celtics' modus operandi for some time. Their reliance on long jumps shots became more prevalent than ever this season, and it has been even more striking in the playoffs. When those shots are not falling, the Celtics look extremely limited offensively.

They combat this by pushing the ball with Rajon Rondo off every turnover and missed shot, and as Doc Rivers pointed out Wednesday, the Celtics have typically won when they were successful in doing so against the Hawks and Sixers. When the Celtics cannot get effective shots in transition, they are forced to go to their jumpshot-heavy sets in the halfcourt.

If the Celtics are not getting out on the break, they have few options to get going to the hoop. Paul Pierce is their only offensive threat who can drive, especially with Avery Bradley injured. Kevin Garnett could try to muscle down low, but he just gets double-teamed. Ray Allen could try to drive, but with his ankle problems robbing him of his lift and explosiveness, he would just get blocked.

All of this changes if the Celtics can create transition opportunities. It may not make a whole lot of sense on the surface, but the Celtics' ability to get to the hoop on offense begins on the defensive end.

Do you think the Celtics will make it to the finals? — Nick T., Fall River, Mass.

This is an easy one, and not necessarily an answer you will enjoy hearing. No matter the outcome of Saturday's game, it is tough to see the Celtics getting to the Finals in their state. Simply put, they do not have a shooting guard they can rely on. Bradley is hurt, Allen is playing hurt, Mickael Pietrus has been inconsistent and Marquis Daniels has not been used enough for Boston to thrust him into a clutch situation and expect him to perform well.

The Celtics went through a similar problem earlier this season, when injuries to Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Wilcox left the team thin in the post. They had options then they did not have now, however, including sliding Kevin Garnett to center, breaking in Brandon Bass and Greg Stiemsma more predominantly over time and bringing in Ryan Hollins. The Celtics do not have the personnel or time to make any such adjustments now.

Add that to their lack of depth up front and Rondo's unpredictable play, and the Celtics probably have too many issues to get out of the East.

Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.

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