|Posted by shawn cassidy on December 30, 2011 at 5:45 AM|
When I think of the Celtics defense in the past four seasons. I think of animals in the wild searching for prey. The Celtics had one of the greatest defensive teams in league history in 2008. They beat teams by 20 over 20 times that season. That's tied for second best in one season. They beat teams by at least 10 points per contest,and they had massive blowouts. The Celtics defense has been a staple for the past four seasons. It's something they could fall back on if their offense wasn't clicking,and in the first three games this season the Celtics look old,or their just not the same on defense. If the Celtics have any hope this season the defense must turnaround,and if it doesn't then the Celtics will be in the middle of the pack in the East. I would get so much joy watching the Celtics on defense. I would stay focused on the defense all game long,and I would follow each missed rotation,and every missed step. Right now the Celtics need Rondo to step up his defense. His defense was great against the Knicks despite Douglas getting too many shots. Rondo had five steals he was active,but in the past two games Rondo looks silly.
The Celtics need defense,and if they can't give it. Then all hope could be lost.
We might be able to dismiss this as just one bad night were it not for the two bad nights that preceded it. I'd had the same reaction seeing this team against the Knicks on Christmas Day, but wondered if the distractions of hors d'oeuvres, cookies and adorable nieces had clouded my thinking. Apparently not. Boston gave up 34 points in the first quarter and 106 for the game to a Knicks team that is probably pretty good but somewhere south of invincible.
And sorry, Boston; it's not the refs, either. Just stop it.
Through three games, the Celtics are 27th in Defensive Efficiency, and when you dig deeper it's an ugly 27th. Boston's opponents are shooting 49.6 percent from the floor; only Houston is worse, and the Rockets have only played one game.
They can't defend without fouling, either, as too many opponents are getting the ball at or near the rim and forcing desperate measures from the Boston defense. Celtics' opponents average .494 free throw attempts per field goal attempt through three games; only Dallas and Milwaukee have been worse. Boston fans aren't used to seeing all these whistles, but the simple reason is that opponents are getting the ball in much better positions than before.
Even the Celtics' good stats are bad. Boston opponents have only tried 14 3-pointers per game, the league's fifth-lowest rate. Why bother when it's so easy to get layups and free throws?
For those looking for any bit of optimism, Hollinger notes that Paul Pierce's return will aid the team. But he closes by noting: "Nonetheless, the Celtics' hopes of contending for anything important this season were pinned on their having an elite-caliber defense. Thus far, they couldn't possibly be any further from that standard, and as a result the Atlantic Division race looks wide-open."