Celtics' offense struggles again with second half execution

Al Bello

The Celtics knew what needed to change going into Game 2 and couldn't adjust. Will an inability to execute the offense late in games be Boston's fatal flaw?

Game 1 was supposed to be the low point for the Boston Celtics.

Blowing a halftime lead in Madison Square Garden through sheer offensive ineptitude, scoring just 25 points in an entire half against a team whose best defender could hardly run, those were supposed to be the worst things that could happen.

A few days later, 23 points in 24 minutes later, here we are. The Celtics' offense is officially a problem.

After scoring just 25 points in the second half of last weekend's 85-78 Game 1 loss to the Knicks, the pressure was on the Celtics to execute better offensively. Instead, things got even worse as the team stumbled its way to a 23-point second-half effort laced with poor spacing, passive play and missed shots.

Veteran teams are supposed to address their issues from game-to-game, using their experience and basketball wisdom to adjust on the fly. Trying to run an offense for 48 minutes in a playoff atmosphere without a single legitimate point guard doesn't really qualify as one of those problems.

Without Rajon Rondo, the Celtics' offense lacks direction, floating out to sea like a rudderless sailboat.

For periods of time, we still see the Celtics' offense find these little grooves. Whether it's Jeff Green, Jason Terry or Kevin Garnett, someone on the team gets hot, the offense suddenly starts to make some sense and you begin to convince yourself that, hey, maybe this team can reel off some wins.

Then Green disappears, Garnett hits the bench, Terry starts missing shots and the Celtics' offense becomes, well, Paul Pierce doing way too much.

As good as Pierce might be at his advancing age, he's no longer the kind of player capable of running an entire offense for 40-plus minutes a night. He'll still give you his nightly 18-20 points, half-dozen assists and old-man-ballin' shimmies, but he's not lighting up defenses four times in a seven-game series anymore.

At this point, it feels like the Celtics are pretty much waiting for Pierce to reach back into history with that kind of effort. After putting up just eight points in the final 12 minutes against New York in Game 1, it was stunning to see how stagnant the Celtics' offense became once again in Game 2.

Time and time again, we've seen the Celtics make adjustments, from battling Father Time to replacing Rondo. However, with just a few games remaining, it's unclear whether Boston will be able to fix the offense in time to rescue its season.

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