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EST. 2011

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Celtics Morning Joe: Defense is needed

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."

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Reply paul
8:06 AM on December 30, 2011 
I think fans need to understand that we can end up doing a lot worse this season than middle of the pack.
It's starting to look like the Cs are tanking, and this could be starting all the way at the top, in Danny's office. Why did he leave us with no viable starting center? Why did Doc try to snow us that JO was looking fabulous? Are they looking to go Lottery?

I'm not saying that this season WILL be a trainwreck, but that it very well could be.

And then there's Rondo. What on earth is he thinking? It was bad enough that Douglas and Cole went off on him, but at least he was doing a lot of other stuff in those games, especially in the Knicks game. What on earth happened in NO? I understand him being tired, but where were the shot attempts and FT attempts? Where was the effort, the attempt to be aggressive? Rondo was left with nothing but his matador defense, and that, in the few video clips I saw, looked the worst its ever been. It looked to me like Rondo was dancing! I mean it! And seriously, I think Rondo would be a terrific ballroom dancer. I think that would be a great direction for him to go in. Seriously. Every person should follow their bliss. Rondo himself said 'I never wanted this'. Well, do what you DO want, Rajon. But please don't ballroom dance on the basketball floor (and don't play basketball on the ballroom floor).

Or is it that Rondo is tanking to try to get himself traded to OKC? I guess we'll know more in another week.
Reply paul
11:39 AM on December 30, 2011 
It's clear, I think, that the Celtics suffered a breakdown against NO that went beyond being tired. It's fair to note that other teams and players around the league have also shown signs of this. A great deal of physical and emotional strain is being put on teams that have had little time to prepare. This is particularly hurting the Cs because they are going through a very difficult transitional phase anyway. That doesn't change the fact that in three games, the Celtics went from being a team that was losing close games to good teams and showing a lot of heart, to losing badly to what looks to be a weak team while showing little heart.

In particular, Rondo stopped doing whatever he was doing well, and did what he was doing badly even worse. If you aren't asking why, then I guess you just don't like using your God-given intelligence. At this point, we have few clues to go on. There are indications that Rondo and Garnett have fallen out over the obvious defensive problems. In view of this probability, I think it is more than fair to speculate that Rondo may be entertaining thoughts of forcing a trade, ideally to OKC. I think one must at least recognize that those two moody individuals, Garnett and Rondo, are the heart and soul of this team. Our season depends on them working out any difficulties they may be having and getting in sync.

My hope for tonight is that Rondo and Garnett, and ideally the core members of the team, get together and work out whatever difficulties they are having, and renew their ubuntu. If that happens, and if Rondo retakes his leadership role and plays with energy, focus and aggression, we could see quite a dramatic turnaround.