As the Celtics continue to march forward without all star point guard Rajon Rondo the team looks to exact revenge for a humbling loss in Sacramento.
Without Rondo, the first key is offensive continuity. The offense will now rely much more on ball movement. Doc Rivers will assume much of the play calling going forward this season, which means you can expect quick passes and constant movement without the ball. This type of motion offense usually has better results than the ball-dominant approach that Rondo brought, using his ball handling abilities to create scoring opportunities for others. The offense will now run largely through Paul Pierce as well as Kevin Garnett, who must play down low more frequently. This will put Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee, two players who are very effective at cutting to get open, in more of a scoring role than they previously had. It will also allow for Pierce to go one-on-one, worrying less about help defenders who sagged off of Rondo.
With improved floor spacing, better ball motion and more movement from those without the ball, this offense can be very effective and will force defenses to be more active than when Rondo is at the helm.
The second is taking care of the basketball. Boston must limit turnovers. The remaining four guards plus Pierce and Jeff Green are all capable ball handlers, as long as they are smart with the ball and don’t hold on to it for too long, things should be fine.
Tonight’s third key is playing with energy at the defensive end. The Kings feature a young, athletic roster, which largely consists of players who like to attack off the dribble. The Celtics will have to stay in front of these guys, who when applied pressure to, often turn the ball over or take bad shots.
Boston will also have to hustle back in transition as Sacramento’s most effective offense comes when its young talent is able to run the floor.