BOSTON (CBS) -- The Celtics offense is at its best when just about everyone touches the ball on a given possession. Keeping the ball moving and seeking out the best possible shot is what really sparked the team's turnaround in the second half of the regular season, and it continues to be Boston's best path to success in the playoffs.
The Celtics have talked at length about not just finding good looks, but making the extra pass to turn that into a great look. One possession in the second quarter of Boston's Game 2 win over the Bucks on Tuesday night fully illustrated that fact. The Celtics had several good looks in the possession, but never settled and went hunting for the best look possible. Boston made six passes in their half-court set, keeping the Milwaukee defense discombobulated and guessing where the ball would end up next.
The hoop reads "Al Horford makes a 3-foot layup (assist to Jayson Tatum)" in the play-by-play, but there was much more to it than that. So much more. Just about everyone on the floor deserved an assist for that possession.
It started with Jaylen Brown driving and passing to Derrick White underneath. White has had his issues putting the ball in the cup, even from a few inches away, so he kicked it to Al Horford for an open three in the right corner. Horford is one of the most unselfish players in the league, so he swung it around to Brown on the left wing.
Brown drove and faked a floater, passing it to White, who was in the right corner. The guard kept the game of hot potato alive by swinging it to Jayson Tatum on the wing, who drove with 4.8 seconds left on the shot clock. With the Milwaukee defense collapsing on Tatum, it left Horford open underneath, and he calmly put it in for an easy deuce.
What a glorious sequence that proves that sharing does indeed mean caring, and it all leads to easy points for the Celtics. It took roughly 12 seconds, and Grant Williams, who was parked in his corner office on the left side, was the only one who didn't touch the ball. He laughed about that after the game.
"It was fun. It was actually hilarious because I think JB ball faked me twice," said Williams. "That possession, it was so exciting to be on the floor. We were all out there trusting one another and having fun. That's when you really know it's a team and you'll have success."
That kind of ball movement, and trust, was missing in Boston's Game 1 loss on Sunday. Head coach Ime Udoka hammered that point home in the film sessions leading up to Tuesday night.
"We knew if we drove their defense would dissipate and we'd get the looks we wanted," said Udoka. "It just started with them pressuring us. Last game it bothered us a lot more. It bothered us at times in this game too but we handled the pressure better. When that pressure comes, just be poised and when you get to the paint, keep it moving and keep them running. We found a wide open basket, passing up a good shot to get a great shot. … That was one of the possessions where it shined through."
There are times when that first pass won't lead to a great look, but the Celtics were able to keep their composure and kept spinning the ball around. They racked up 17 assists on 23 made baskets in the first half Tuesday night as they raced out to a 25-point lead at halftime. The movement dried up a bit in the second half after the Bucks made some adjustments, but Boston finished the night with 28 assists on 38 makes.
One of the most important helpers came in the closing minutes of the fourth. Though the Celtics were hanging on to a double-digit lead, the Bucks were surging and making things interesting. Tatum drove and fed Brown in the corner, and as Brown drove to the hoop, Tatum moved into to the corner himself. When Brown hit him with a nice feed, Tatum was wide open and drained a three to put Boston back on top by 15. That essentially sealed the game for Boston, but Tatum hit another three-pointer two minutes later to put the game away for good.
"It's all about pass and relocate," he said of his first of those two triples. "You don't want to pass and stay in one spot, you want to find the opening on the court. It's just a read that we've drilled in practice and watched in film. It's the chemistry of guys knowing where you're supposed to be at."
When that chemistry is on, the Celtics are nearly unstoppable on offense. It's incredible basketball to watch, and it's even more fun to be a part of.
"Celebrating others success is what makes us so close," said Grant Williams. "Whether it's JB or JT scoring 30, we all celebrate and lift each other up. I love winning and this team does as well, and that is this team's whole goal."
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