Remember the Celtics’ offense in the second half of the Doc Rivers era? Even for a quality team, there were long stretches of time when scoring was a struggle. It was only five seasons ago that the Green averaged 91.8 points per game, a figure that likely would have been less if the veteran 2012 team played a full 82 games (the 2011-2012 season was abbreviated to 66 games due to the lockout). Through 65 games in 2017, the Celtics are averaging 107.8 points per game.
The Celtics are on pace to improve their scoring output for a third straight season. While the offense bottomed out at 96.2 points per game in year one under Brad Stevens, it improved to 101.4 in ’15, 105.7 last year and just under 108 this year. They are on pace for the best scoring output this franchise has seen in 26 seasons. The Celtics averaged just under 110 points per game in the 22 games Avery Bradley and his 17 points per game missed before returning versus Atlanta.
As the league has become more three-point oriented, the Celtics have followed. They are third in the NBA in both three-point attempts per game game and threes made. After closing 2016 as the third worst three-point shooting team in basketball at 33.5%, the Celtics are up to 13th, at 36.5%, this season. In a 30-team league, you don’t need a calculator to know that means they’ve improved enough to pass half of all NBA teams from last season through 65 games this year. They are shooting more threes overall and making a greater percentage. With the addition of Al Horford to stretch the floor, the Celtics have become a deadly spread team. It is not a coincidence that guys like Isiah Thomas and Jae Crowder are having career years from deep, as is Avery Bradley since he’s been a starter.
Perhaps the best indicator of how well the Celtics are playing on offense is their assist numbers. At 24.9 assists per game, the Celtics also sit third in the NBA and are putting up a figure that would surpass any Celtics team Doc Rivers coached over a full season. Figures such as this suggest that, while adding that second scorer who everyone seems to believe is the Celtics biggest need would surely help, it might not be wise for that player to be a ball stopper in the Carmelo Anthony/Jimmy Butler mold. The Celtics are more than proving they can score. Another playmaker might be the wisest piece to add.
Remember that the Celtics are doing this with a rotation littered with college-aged players, such as Marcus Smart (just turned 23), Terry Rozier (22) and Jaylen Brown (20). Earlier this decade, it was a surprise for the Celtics to eclipse 100 points. Now, it’s the opposite.