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NBA / Jul 1, 2011 / 1:30 pm

The Celtics Won’t Win Another Title Without A Breakup

It’s common knowledge that defense wins championships.

Any sports fan will tell you that the reason Paul Pierce lit up a cigar, Kevin Garnett told us that anything is possible, and the Boston Celtics raised their 17th championship banner is because of one thing: defense.

In 2008, the Celtics played stifling D. They gave up 90.3 points per game on just 41.9 percent shooting – best in the league . When they met Los Angeles and its high-powered offense in the Finals, the C’s held them to 93.8 points per game, 14.8 below their regular season average.

But I’m here to tell you that Boston won’t win another championship with its current core because of its offense.

Despite aging three years, the Celtics’ Big Three has managed to maintain its defensive intensity. Even with a 35-year-old KG anchoring the squad, Boston still limited its opponents to a league-best average of 91.1 points last season. But far from finishing the year with another Larry O’Brien trophy in tow, the team bowed out in the second round of the playoffs in just five games.

So what gave?

It doesn’t take a genius to reason that if the problem doesn’t lie on the defensive end, it’s probably somewhere on offense. And if we look at the numbers, we’ll find that Boston’s scoring and offensive rating have steadily declined since its 2008 title.

They’ve gone from averaging 100.5 points per game to 96.5. Their offensive rating has dropped from 110.2 to 106.2. In their five-game second-round series loss to the Heat, the Celtics never once eclipsed 100 points. And if we take an even closer look, we’ll see that the Celtics’ core is largely responsible for this decline.

In the last two seasons, Pierce and Allen posted their lowest scoring averages since their rookie seasons. Garnett’s offensive decline has been the most striking. His scoring has dipped 3.9 points per game since the ’08 season, and his offensive rating shrunk each of the past four seasons.

Still, Chuck McKenney of RedsArmy.com wrote to us in an email during the playoffs:

“I think this team can be championship caliber for one more season. Kevin Garnett had a very productive year. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce showed there is still some gas in the tank. But Danny Ainge needs to build a reliable bench in order to keep their minutes low. The bench play has been a roller-coaster this season. And Rajon Rondo needs to continue to improve… especially his shooting.”

While wisdom and discounts at IHOP may increase with age, the offensive productivity seemingly does not. This is going to be a major problem for the Celtics as long as it clings to its current core. If more offensive firepower is what Boston needs, Danny Ainge shouldn’t expect it to come from a trio whose offensive games have been on the decline for the past four seasons.

That puts a lot of pressure on a point guard who can’t shoot and a 24-year-old forward who looked lost at times in the Celtics’ offense. While Boston’s outlook could certainly change with the addition of another weapon, that seems unlikely given the contractual obligations to Pierce, Allen, and Garnett.

As long as the Big Three are eating the cap space, don’t expect any more cigars to be smoked or any more banners to be hung in Beantown.

What do you think? Do the Celtics need to make a major move to win a ring?

Follow Martin on Twitter at @MartinKessler91.

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  • jmg

    WHO CARES!!! LOL before 2008, they were irrelevant since the 80s and i see them going back to that status…IRRELEVANT!!!

  • http://www.dimemag.com panchitoooo

    i wonder who will be the better team in 5 years, Lakers, Spurs, or Celtics…

  • srb

    The difference was Shaq actually. A celtics blog recently posted the numbers, and it was amazing how much more efficient and powerful the offense was with the big bridge burner on the court.

    He barely scored, but it opened up the whole offense anyway. He made Rondo go from top-5 point guard to MVP candidate briefly.

    With a healthy Shaq they would have gone to the finals easily. So basically it was Shaq that boned the entire season, tricking Ainge and Doc to believe they could rely on him and making them pull the trigger on the Perkins trade. They mostly likely wouldn’t have won a chip with Perk there because of the offensive problems, but at least they would have been competitive.

  • http://www.dimemag.com panchitoooo

    LOL @With a healthy Shaq they would have gone to the finals easily.

    probably the funniest thing ive heard this month.

  • http://www.dimemag.com Lucas Shapiro

    Well if scoring is our issue, then don’t get Dwight Howard!

  • Dayinho

    They need a guy who can rebound! I don’t have the numbers but it seems that they allowed too much offensive rebounds and this stat killed them!

  • Celts Fan

    @panchito – I think w/ a healthy Shaq (again, only Danny was simple enough to think that that was possible) that we do go to the Finals. Why? Simple, if he’s healthy, we;re rolling (remember, we were the #1 team int he East when he went down) and don’t feel the need to trade Perk since things are going so well. Then Perk, JO and Shaq OWN the glass against Miami and Perk is there to clog the lane when Miami drives, thus slowing them down. Chicago’s flaws were exposed as it essentially being the Give the Ball to Will (err Derrick) offense, which we can easily slow down w/ our D. Shaq was a great fit in our offense, but at this point, anyone counting on that is an idiot. that’s honestly like saying, “With a healthy Yao, Houston woulda been in the playoffs.” Well great, with a 18 inch cock, I’d be a pornstar. what’s your point?

    Jeff Green is a nightmare, but with a full training camp under his belt, I feel like he’ll be a lot better than he was this year coming in on the fly. I like Jajuan Johnson a lot as a guy doing Baby Davis things better than Baby (eventually,) and I’m really high on Avery Bradley. We need to resign LeBron’s step-daddy (LOVE him as a backup) and get a center to play the 50 games JO misses with injuries.

    I truly believe we CAN win a ring with this squad again (NO ONE woulda said Dallas was better than us going into the playoffs, right?) We need to get some good, cheap vets looking for a chance at a ring. We’ll never be the favorites, but ain’t no reason we can’t sneak into the playoffs as a 4, get some good matchups, and get it done. the window’s barely cracked open, but it’s still kinda open for the next 2 years. we need to catch some breaks and get the right FAs, but it’s possible albeit unlikely.

    and, if we have a shortened season this year, that’s PERFECT for our nursing-home-ready squad.

  • Mandirigma

    The Celtics won’t win again. PERIOD. Rondo’s a high IQ pg, but put him on another team with no hall of famers and he’s just another all hustle energy player.

    Best chance for the Celtics is this coming lockout season (fewer games equals less toll on their old bodies).

  • Cameron

    If they really need a young scorer, why don’t they recruit J.R. Smith?

  • Celts Fan

    @mandirigma – the whole pt of the article is saying they can’t w/out blowing it up, which means my point was that they can w/ Rondo still playing w/ (old but still effective) HOFers if we catch some breaks int he next 2 years max.

  • iCARNACKi

    Jeff Green & Rondo are the keys to the Celtics staying relevant, I would want Pierce to retire a Celtic but they should look into trading Garnett & Allen to bring in some youthful talent… loyalty be damned.

    This group of Celtics won’t go to the finals again never mind winning a championship, best they can hope for is ECF.

  • Vlad

    the key is rondo now! if rondo is scoring a little bit more the c´s will be allright.last season was pure shit, because of the injuries.every player needs to stay healthy and they have to stay constant over a full season!

  • Heather

    The key to celtics winning is DEFENSE STAYING HEALTHY n they must have a reliable bench old bodies? Lmao calling the celtics old is soo fuking OVERRATTED sick n tired of PPL saying that 34,35,36 old really? When clearly the Dallas mavericks is 1 of the oldest team in the lead who knocked out 1 of the most athletic teams in the league for the championship Miami AKA cryami U guys act like there in there Damn 50’s that’s when u have an old body Celtics dnt even play old clearly another huge major issue was foul trouble bullshit calls c’mon before shaq was injured he was doing good until he got hurt once u get injured it fucks u up guys that are over 6’5 get injured easily because of the weight on there legs duh SMH Did a young athelic team win a ring? HELL NO when u are heathly dedicated and determine for what u want age doesn’t mean a damn thing

  • http://www.yahoo.com martin

    Let the breakup begin—-team can not respond positively at crunch time——their value may be worth better athletes that can play 4 quarters–bring in dwight howard, chris paul and chandler, and johnson…..