The plan is to run — to run off made baskets, off missed baskets, off anything.
The Celtics, who have won four straight after Monday night’s 120-105 demolition of Orlando at TD Garden, want to get up the floor as quick as they can whenever they can, because that could lead to a quick bucket.
“The main thing we want to do is, because we are so small, and we don’t have that dominant post threat, is kind of put defenses back on their toes,” veteran Celtics swingman Gerald Wallace said before the game.
“Even when they score, or [on a] turnover, or a miss, we want to push the ball, force them to get back on defense and try to attack the defense before they get set.”
Any player or coach will tell you that the key to running is getting stops on the defensive end, but the Celtics have been able to score in transition even after made baskets. They did just that in Saturday’s 111-110 win against the Heat in Miami, and they did so in their games leading up to that as well.
“Even if they make it, we want to [inbound] quick and get up the floor because it gives us a lot more time to set up our offense,” forward Jeff Green said.
“And you never know — the team could be sleeping and we could get easy layups. We just have to continue at that pace.”
The Celtics held a 15-5 edge in fast-break points against the Heat, and then a 20-4 edge against the Magic, but that statistic doesn’t take into account the pace at which a team is playing.
According to the NBA’s advanced metrics, the Celtics’ pace in their first four games was among the worst in the league as they averaged 93.53 possessions per game.
But in their last four games — all wins — the Celtics are averaging 98.16 possessions per game, a figure that would rank in the top half of the league.
The one thing the Celtics can’t do, though, according to coach Brad Stevens, is have their guards start to run on the break before the team secures a rebound.
“We’re not a good enough rebounding team to do that,” Stevens said before Monday night’s game. “We don’t have a guy that just clears the boards to do that. So we have to make sure that we team rebound first, then it’s just about effort and spacing and getting to your spots as quickly as possible. It’s easier said than done.”
Room to improve
The Celtics entered the game giving up 95.1 points per game, the sixth-lowest of any NBA team. Indiana has the NBA’s stingiest defense, allowing 85.3.
But Stevens said he’s not sold that his team is a solid defensive unit, especially after allowing 110 points to the Heat, who shoot nearly 60 percent from the floor.
“I think there’s so much room to improve,” he said, “and I told our guys that [Saturday] when we got together, the last thing we can do is think that game was anything more than we found a way to win in a game where we shot almost 60 percent from the field.
“Because we really didn’t guard well enough to win that game 99 out of 100 times.”
It might seem like Stevens, who was perhaps the only person on the Celtics bench not to celebrate the win, is a tough man to please.
But Green said he also hopes Stevens never will be content, either.
“I hope not,” Green said. “We never want to be content with where we’re at. We want to continue to get better each day and just continue to move forward. The things that happened in the past happened in the past.”
Further, Green said their three straight wins heading into Monday night aren’t enough to change the overall perception that the Celtics will struggle this season.
“We still have a lot to prove,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve done well enough to say that we’re still surprising people. It’s only seven games in. We still have a long season to go.”
Finding his range
Rookie Kelly Olynyk started his second straight game, and though Olynyk hasn’t shot well yet this season (36.9 percent), Stevens believes Olynyk will make them soon.
“I’ve always subscribed to the law of averages, and so he’s got a bunch of makes coming,” Stevens said before the game.
Sure enough, Olynyk made 7 of 9 shots Monday night, scoring 16 points. He also made 2 of 3 from 3-point range after having gone 1 of 11 from that distance this season.
A real plus for team
Wallace came off the bench for the fourth straight game, played just 19 minutes, scored just 1 point, and added five assists. But he was plus-20, the best of any Celtic. “Well, plus-20 are the only points I care about,” Stevens said. “That tells you what I think of him. He’s been nothing but an absolute energizer off the bench.” . . . Wallace is an ardent Patriots fan, and his pinpoint pass to Green at the end of the Miami game, when he threw it across the court to the corner with 0.6 seconds left, seemed like it was straight out of a Tom Brady highlight. “Me and Brady worked on that in the offseason,” Wallace joked. Wallace got to meet Brady earlier this year at a Patriots game.