The Celtics’ defense is in a state of transition.
The ever-useful Defensive Efficiency ranking places the Celtics at 6th in the NBA at 99.1 points allowed / opponents’ 100 possessions (HoopData.com). That seems about right. No, it’s not the dominant defense that the Celtics had a few years ago. But it’s still a group of smart, veteran players who understand where games are truly won and lost.
When the Big Three first arrived, the Celtics built their reputation on opponent’s field goal percentage. Teams going up against the C’s simply knew they would not be getting many clean looks throughout the course of the night. Not with Kevin Garnett shouting orders at people and every single player on that team making defense his first priority.
This year’s team is a little different. Yes, they are still extremely organized and generally do not make many mental mistakes. But the Celtics have just been mediocre when it comes to opponent’s field goal percentage this year. Since 2007-2008, when the C’s led the league in OppFG%, they have steadily declined in that category over the next two seasons, and that trend has continued through the first 10 games of this season:
2007-2008: 41.9% (1st in NBA)
2008-2009: 43.1% (1st)
2009-2010: 45.1% (8th)
2010-2011: 45.6% (15th)
Why? It’s almost impossible to ignore the age factor here. Let’s be honest, with each successive year, the legs get more and more tired and it becomes difficult to close down on defenders. Paul Pierce can talk all he wants about how great it is to be completely healthy. But realistically, going up against someone like LeBron, Durant or Rudy Gay every other night is going to take its toll on him. Not to mention, I don’t necessarily want this team expending every ounce of energy it has into playing super-intense defense for 82 games. So the other teams make a few more shots during the regular season. So what?
So despite this trend, and the fact that Kendrick Perkins is still out, how are the Celtics continuing to still achieve a decent amount of success on the defensive end?
Here are some possible reasons:
So what do people think? Why is this year’s Celtics’ defense able to be effective, despite the fact that opponents are shooting relatively well against them?