3 Reasons the Boston Celtics have not reached their full offensive potential

The Boston Celtics have a great roster filled with skilled offensive players. So, what is holding them back from being a truly elite offensive team?

The Boston Celtics are a team filled with skilled offensive players. The roster consists of multiple proven scorers such as Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Al Horford, but their offense is headlined by Kyrie Irving, one of the most gifted scorers the league has ever seen. With all of this talent, how come the Celtics aren't even in the top 10 for offensive rating?

They certainly have enough firepower on the roster to run opponents out of the gym. So what is holding them back? Well, a few obvious reasons can be pointed out to explain what is stopping Boston from turning into an elite scoring team. Today, we will count down the three biggest reasons that the team hasn't unleashed their full potential yet, starting with the smallest concern and building up to the most important issue.

3. Pace

The first factor we will examine is the team's pace of play. The Boston Celtics are currently playing at a pace slower than most of the NBA's highest-scoring teams. This correlation may be a factor as to why the team is not scoring as much as they should; they simply aren't playing at a fast enough pace.

As of now, the Celtics are totaling an average of 100.54 possessions per game. These possessions are helping the team rack up 111.5 points on 91.2 field goal attempts per contest. Compared to the rest of the league, the Celtics rank 18th in pace, 11th in points and 7th in field goal attempts per game.

Fortunately, their pace hasn't hurt the team too much just yet. The fact that the Celtics average 10.7 offensive rebounds a game is a huge reason behind this. Boston might not play at a fast pace, but they manage to earn enough second-chance points each night to make up for it.

The general trend in the league is to push the tempo and score in bunches. Defense has become less and less important. However, this is largely a regular season trend, as teams in the playoffs tend to lean more towards a slower approach to the game.

When the playoffs begin, the Boston Celtics' patience on offense will finally pay off. The team has been grinding out games all season and focusing on making the most out of each possession. They value the quality of shots over quantity. As a result, the Celtics will be one step ahead of the competition once the postseason starts.

2. Shot selection

Speaking of quality of shots, the Boston Celtics will need to make a few minor adjustments to their shot selection before the season ends.

As a whole, the team usually attempts high percentage shots. This is a direct result of the Celtics emphasizing heavy ball movement and team play to create open looks. With an average of 24.2 assists per game, the Celtics are sixth in the league in this category.

While Boston is great at finding open shot attempts, there is one exception. The Celtics have fallen in love with the mid-range shot, which is widely regarded as the worst shot in basketball.

Mid-range shots account for 12.8 percent of all of the Celtics points, the seventh highest percentage in the league. Jayson Tatum and Kyrie Irving are the two biggest offenders on the team, each racking up over 15 percent of their points per game in the mid-range.

Surprisingly, the Celtics do a solid job of making the mid-range shot look decent. Terry Rozier and Irving, in particular, are exceptional at squeezing through screens to knock down quality shots in this zone. On the other hand, all of these players, especially Rozier, are prone to attempting questionable and heavily contested field goals.

Rozier shoots an average of 23.8 percent from 15-19 feet out and 39.1 percent from 10-14 feet. Meanwhile, Tatum shoots above 40 percent from every spot on the floor except for the 10-14 foot range. It seems like Tatum has taken obvious inspiration from his offseason workout buddy Kobe Bryant, as Jayson is now attempting more mid-range fadeaways than ever before.

Mid-range shots are not something that any championship contending team should rely on heavily. In the modern day of the NBA, 3-pointers and layups are the keys to success. Therefore, cutting down on the mid-range attempts in favor of higher quality shots will lead to a more efficient offense for the Boston Celtics.

1. Free throws

The biggest issue with the Boston Celtics offense is their inability to get to the free throw line. Shooting free throws is a great way to build confidence in players and mount scoring runs. Sadly, the Celtics have failed to get to the line consistently.

The team ranks 28th in the league in free throw attempts with an average of just 19.4 free throws a game. Luckily, the Celtics are eighth in terms of free throw percentage at 79.6 percent. Their solid shooting has helped balance out their lack of attempts, but it is not a reliable strategy for the remainder of the season.

There are a few reasons to explain why the Celtics are attempting so few free throws. Their abundance of mid-range shots certainly has an effect, as it is much more difficult to draw a foul on a jump shot as compared to a drive to the hoop. Furthermore, the Celtics rank 28th in the league on drives per game at just 36.1 a game. If the Celtics were able to attack the paint at a higher rate, they would likely attempt more free throws.

The Celtics are doing themselves no favors by not getting to the free throw line. Obviously, it is the referee's job to make the calls, but the Celtics must do more to force their hand and create contact. This comes by being more aggressive on offense and not being afraid to pass up the mid-range for a hard drive to the rim.

By adding more easy buckets at the line each game, the Celtics offense will take a huge leap. It may seem like something small, but it's ramifications are gigantic. The team needs to start creating more opportunities at the free throw line before the season ends.

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