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When it comes to big games, coaches and players will tell you that every game is a big game, and that each one counts as a one win or one loss.
But we know better, don’t we?
Success and struggles have a yin-yang impact on teams, with the potential for a significant ripple effect depending on the outcome.
It’s still early in the season for the struggling Boston Celtics (2-4), but at the root of their problems is that they have been at their absolute worst in the worst place possible - at home.
Now the sample size at home, two games, is admittedly a small one.
But that doesn’t absolve them from the fact that they have been an absolute dud in front of their fans this season.
No team in the NBA this season is scoring fewer points at home than the Celtics and their 95.0 points per game average.
Boston also ranks among the league’s worst at home when it comes to rebounding (39.5, 29th out of 30 NBA teams); field goal percentage (.413, 28th), three-pointers made (10.5, 23rd) and defensive rating (114.9, 26th)
So how can they get on track?
I’m glad you asked.
There are few statistical categories that are as head-scratching with this team, than assists.
At home, they are dead-last in the NBA with a 18.5 assists per game average.
On the road?
They move up to fourth in the league, with a 28 assists per game average away from the TD Garden.
Of course those numbers are a bit skewed by the fact that Boston has had to play at least one overtime session in three of its four road games this season.
But even without those extra sessions, the Celtics’ assists numbers on the road would still be impressive relative to what they do at home.
And that’s what’s so damn frustrating for Celtics Nation.
It’s one thing to generally suck at a particular part of the game (i.e., rebounding).
But to be decisively dominant on the road and dormant at home, is maddening for Celtics fans.
And it makes even less sense when you consider the steady stream of sermons from first-year coach Ime Udoka about the importance of strong play defensively which feels as though it has fallen upon deaf or hard-to-hear ears.
Instead of defensive stops, knocking down shots has been this team’s recipe for success this season,
When the Celtics win, they average 123 points. No team with at least two victories this season, averages more points in those wins than the Celtics.
And you know it’s about their offense when you take a peek at their defensive rating when they win games, and see that it’s 106.6 which ranks 25th among the 30 NBA teams.
Because good offense seems to be the clearest path for this team to win, it only makes sense that a greater emphasis on ball movement is in order to do the undoable this season - win in front of their fans.
Better ball movement Isn’t just about doing it because Udoka is telling them to do so. It's not about working the ball more to keep guys not named Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown engaged in the offense.
Better ball movement facilitates more assists which leads to the ultimate goal in all this - winning games.
It’s never easy winning in the NBA, but it shouldn’t be this difficult especially when playing in front of one of the best home crowds in the NBA.