Brad Stevens on Joe Mazzulla, Celtics trades and offense at shoot-em-up

BOSTON—The celts he conducted his first full practice session of the season after the return of Robert Williams III this week. They needed it. As their previously devastating offensive sets turned into a slump, the shooters became discouraged and the team tried to maintain an upbeat tone. I do not help. The offense bottomed out in Sunday’s 95-92 loss to the Magic, shooting 34.8% from the field and 25.5% from 3, and the defense faltered as it trailed by 30 in favor of the Magic. pacemaker On Wednesday.

Brad Stevens responded, speaking before Friday’s game against the Timberwolves in support of his interim head coach and in favor of some urgency from a group that is beginning to falter. Losing streaks happen, but the key is how teams respond to them, and Boston hasn’t done that well.

Derrick White was hesitant to take an open corner three and fell to 0-for-7 shooting against the Pacers. Sam Hauser was brought back to earth, turnovers crept back into Jaylen Brown’s game and Marcus Smart saw body language concerns across the board in the miniseries loss to Orlando.

“The easiest thing in the world is to aim for shot variance and I don’t see the game that way. We have to find a way, as a team, to improve,” Stevens said. “…the open catch-and-shoot 3s, we’ll take them all day, but there are ways to, without making it harder for us, get another layup down the middle, and that’s what it usually comes down to, right? This isn’t rocket science, but I think from my perspective, the last two weeks, it seems like we’re in a little bit of a rut, so we’ve got to get out of that and make sure it doesn’t have halves like we had in the first half the other night, that was hard.”

The Celtics’ historic offense slowed at nearly the opposite rate in the last 10 games to last place, scoring 105.9 points per possession, nearly three full points behind the 29th-ranked Clippers. Much of his focus remains the same, whether it’s drives, passes per game, potential assists, and even his turnover rate only increased slightly to 14%. His reliance on 3-pointers increased from 41.5 attempts per game to nearly 44.

Boston has struggled, despite its better offensive runs this year, producing consistent looks at the basket. They fell to last place in the five games leading up to Wednesday, before posting 47 against the Pacers, nearly double their 26.6 per game for the season (24) and converting just 46.8% in loss.

Opponents have started reading and predicting his post passes. The Celtics resorted to chasing offensive rebounds and playing aggressively on their own defensive end, which allowed Indiana to create wide looks, looking erratic.

“I think it’s part of the drive and kick game,” said Joe Mazzulla. CLNS Media/Celtics Blog on Tuesday commenting on the appearance of the rim. “The first thing people try to do is protect the rim, so we have to go out there and run harder in early transition to try to generate some of that, but I think we’re making the right play at the rim. Our rim read percentage was 75% (Sunday), so 75% of the time we pushed the ball, we made the correct play at the rim. That means the guys are trying to take it away and we’re making the next best read.”

Stevens hasn’t made any out-of-place suggestions or directives to Mazzulla, comparing himself to someone on Twitter who gives advice when he’s not involved in practice or film shoots. He has liked the job the interim head coach has done thus far. His appearance at shootaround seemed to signal an attempt to take some of the heat off Mazzulla, who has often been inclined not to call run-stopping timeouts and an upbeat public tone through losses.

Mazzulla said Boston played very well through stretches of Sunday’s loss to the Magic and then said on Wednesday that he doesn’t worry and is confident in the team.

Players have reacted differently, going from calling the Golden State loss one of 82 games, to playing out a blowout loss against the Clippers and showing some fatigue coming back to Boston.

Jayson Tatum noted that the games didn’t feel as fun late in that stretch, before missing Sunday’s game for personal reasons, while Marcus Smart noted that teammates were pressing and seemed dejected after missing. Grant Williams watched the Celtics fall into old habits to start the streak.

“I think we’re putting a lot of pressure on ourselves,” Smart said. CLNS Media/Celtics Blog. “We played so high over a period of time, I think we expected to play like this and it’s not going to happen. We’re not going to shoot the way we’ve been shooting and play the way we’ve been playing all along. We’re going to have games like this, we knew it was going to match us, we just have to go out there and play. We’ve definitely been pushing these last two games trying to be perfect.”

“The main thing for us is body language, it shows, we’ll miss a shot that we usually take and just look like, ‘what… is going on? He didn’t go in,’ instead of going back to the defensive end and making up, go back and shoot the same shot and do it this time. Then also, offensive rebounding, we’re allowing guys to sneak up under us, what we usually do to other people, they’re doing to us. Those two signs there tell us how much we’re pushing.”

Malcolm Brogdon didn’t notice anything at shootaround or the day before Wednesday’s game that might indicate why they didn’t show up. Energy Robert Williams III also noted that the misses allowed his defense to lag, missed cutters, allowed a transition break after a mark and gave up second-down chances to Jalen Smith.

Williams III was able to play 22 minutes and shut down the defense in the second half, where the Celtics allowed just 93 points per 100 possessions. However, they haven’t established rhythm and consistency on that end while prioritizing offense early in the season, leading to miscues where Indiana shot 50.9% in the first half and scored 42 points in the first quarter.

Offensively, it’s remarkable how much teams relied on what the Warriors and Clippers did successfully on defense to slow down the Celtics’ five-out offensive rallies. Both had personnel to change often, while Orlando and Indiana instead relied on collapsing and shuffling, shuffling shots at White, Hauser, Smart and Al Horford. They have combined for 20.1 3-point attempts per game, nearly half the team’s looks each night, up from 18 before. Those four fell from 42.8% to 28.4% of three.

Brogdon, who has managed to score 14.0 points per game on 42.4% shooting, may be part of the solution, Stevens thinks. If they can’t straighten out internally, a trade could emerge.

“We haven’t been the best offensive rebounding team in the world, we haven’t been very good at converting people this year, so we’re not losing and we’ve got to get some shots and some RBIs to get to the shooting lane. free,” he said. “(Brogdon) is one of our best guys to do that.”

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