2.14.2008

Passed their Prime: A Decentralized Offense has it's Advantages

If you ask an expert on international terrorism what makes al qaeda effective and difficult to stop, the answer goes something like this:

They are spread out.


They move quickly and often.


Neutralizing a cell leader only opens the door for a new leader to emerge.


Neutralizing subordinates is even less effective and for the same reason.


In short, they are decentralized.


Which, of course, brings me to the 2008 Boston Celtics.

“Pierce, Allen and Garnett must have signed an unselfish document, for the way they willingly dish the ball to whatever youngster makes himself available,” an NBA observer recently said (I'm not sure who said this, but I think it was Zeke).

I say this is only half right.

The entire roster must have signed an unselfish pact, and they must have signed it at the start of the season and then renewed their pledge when KG went down.

The 2008 Boston Celtics average almost 22 assists per contest. Someone who doesn't watch the Celtics might labor under the delusion that the Celtics offense runs through Kevin Garnett, much like the offense ran through Larry Bird in the 1980s (in particular the late 1980s).

But a quick look at individual statistics proves this is not the case.

Over the course of the first 50 games, the top four playmakers are Rajon Rondo (4.8), Paul Pierce (4.8), Kevin Garnett (3.8), and Ray Allen (3.0). Even more telling is the way the team has continued sharing the basketball since KG went down with an abdominal injury.

Over the last six games, they have tallied 20 or more assists in each game. In those games Rondo posted 7-, 8- and 12-assist games, while Pierce posted 5-, 6-, and 7-assist games. Ray Allen had two five-assist games, and one four assist game. Kendrick Perkins and Eddie House each posted posted one four-assist game, and House and Big Baby each posted one 3-assist game. Tony Allen and Brian Scalabrine both had multiple 2-assist games.

The most surprising playmaker during this period, however, was James Posey. He posted two 3- assist games, two 5-assist games, one 6-assist game and one 2-assist game.

The other half of the equation is the player on the receiving end of the pass. No need to go into great detail here. Suffice it to say that the Celtics have won numerous games where some combination Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett have taken the night off, and even a few games where all three didn't score big.

Why?

Because the offense is decentralized.

Every player is a threat to pass and every player is a threat to score.

This is vintage 1977 Portland Trailblazers stuff.

It's called teamwork, and it represents the guts of championship caliber play.

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