Opening night was an interesting goodbye to static basketball. Say so long to these staples of the Big 3 Era:
The Ray Allen Get Free After Running a 10-Second Obstacle Course Jumper
The Paul Pierce Loiter at the Elbow Step-Back Jumper
The Bass Float and Wait Until Your Man Helps Jumper
The KG Catch and Shoot 18 Foot Jumper
These were all pretty much all based on stationary players with Rondo dribbling. The occasional Jeff Green slash or Bradley baseline cut were exceptions that proved the rule. Mostly, players rarely caught the ball while moving, it was equally rare to see players change sides of the floor, the ball didn't change hands very much, and when it did, it usually stayed in that player's hands for a really long time.
Monday night revealed that when the Celtics played well, the ball moved briskly from side to side, (in the air, not via dribble), players displaced one another all over the court, and the ball didn't stick in players' hands. They assisted on 70%+ of made baskets. This looks like the Stevens MO.
The game also revealed that the team executed that style best when certain players were on the bench. And, conversely, when those same players were on the floor, they did not play well that way.
Sullinger, Olynyk, Wallace, Crawford (seriously), and Faverani (more seriously) moved the ball and themselves in ways that Green, Bass, Humphries, Lee, and Bradley can't even dream about let alone do. Some guys see it, feel it, have it, and some guys don't. The ball hits the hands, the eyes see the floor, the brain makes all the connections, the ball's out of the hands, either shot, passed, or dribbled. Faverani did it on a loose ball pick-up that he turned into a long lead hockey assist for a layup.
If a player has it, it all takes mere nano-seconds; if he doesn't, he's Brandon Bass, or Jeff Green, and it takes 3-4-5, (oops, too late) seconds. Same, to a slightly lesser degree, applies to Lee and Bradley.
Can the skills needed be improved, enhanced? Most coaches say no. On Monday Lee missed a dunk, a layup, bricked a bunch of shots, jumped in the air and passed to the other team, and didn't defend anyone when it mattered, and was a -16 for the game. Green, in 23 minutes, got 6 points, 3 turnovers, 1 rebound, a -14, and looked winded while Rudy Gay ate his lunch for 17. These guys are 5-6-7 year pros. If not now, when?
As long as the young core is on the floor along with Wallace, this will be a fun team to watch. Watching Green, Bass, and Lee sleepwalk and stumble, not so much.