Celtics’ Ime Udoka: “If we are playing offense the right way, we’d be 3-1”

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Celtics believe the problem with their defense is their offense.

They’re not wrong. As red-hot as Stephen Curry has been, the Warriors have struggled to score when they have had to go against a set Celtics defense — Golden State has a 93.5 half-court first shot offensive rating in the Finals (almost five points below Boston). However, in transition they have a 114.8 offensive rating (stats via Cleaning the Glass).

The Celtics believe when they follow the game plan with their offense — don’t turn the ball over, finish at the rim — they keep the Warriors out of transition and allow their defense gets a chance to set. However, when they get away from those basics and drive into traffic and cough the ball up, or just jack-up 3s rather than work inside out (as happened in the fourth quarter of Game 4), the Warriors get to run.

“If we are playing offense the right way, we’d be 3-1,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said.

“Offense is going to determine, I feel like, the rest of the series for us in a sense,” Grant Williams said. “If we control and do what we’re supposed to do, we have success… But when you have so many turnovers, when you don’t necessarily execute and get less shots and allow offensive rebounds, extra possessions for them, it’s hard to win games that way.”

While the Warriors are an outstanding defensive team, the Celtics’ offense getting away from what works is not new to the Finals. There was Game 6 and then the final four minutes of Game 7 against Miami. There were stretches against the Bucks.

“I feel like sometimes we go away from things that work because they don’t seem easy, but they technically are,” Williams said. “Sometimes like accepting a double-team or doing this to create opportunities for somebody else. Sometimes we might deviate from that because we feel like something is different…

“Last game a lot of time we had six-point leads and then we took a bad shot on offense or had a turnover or we had a lapse of judgment on the defensive end and gave up open threes. Things like that, just like the mental blips. I feel like we haven’t been the most disciplined team this series between the two teams.”

Even in this series, Boston has shown that when they execute their offense and stay disciplined, they can win on the road. They simply have lacked the poise to do it consistently, whereas the Warriors have poise — or “championship mettle” or whatever you want to call it — in abundance. The Warriors are going to do what they do no matter what.

If Boston can show that poise under pressure, Udoka and the Celtics like their chances.

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Celtics’ Ime Udoka: “If we are playing offense the right way, we’d be 3-1” originally appeared on NBCSports.com