Celtics' defense becoming big concern

Celtics' defense becoming big concern
November 17, 2013, 7:00 pm
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With all the missed lay-ups and jumpers that the Boston Celtics seem to be getting pretty good at lately, offensive problems are evident on so many levels.

But it's the ever-increasing defensive issues that should be of even bigger concern.

Earlier this month, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said he wasn't sold on Boston's defense being as strong as some statistics like scoring defense, might indicate.

"But I think we've tried at times to be really together and defending the way that we need to," Stevens said. "And at other times we haven't been as effective as we need to. I don't think yet we've defended for a game, for 48 minutes."

The season began with defensive concerns because of the team's lack of bigs and a roster with too many two-guards.

And now that they are riding a three-game losing streak, those problems defensively are magnified.

Boston guards are allowing too much dribble-penetration which is leading to the Celtics' big men attempting to help.

That in turn has left Boston susceptible to easy points around the paint on put-backs, or giving up offensive rebounds which then allows their opponents a chance to reset and run another play.

That said, Boston still has the 10th-best scoring defense with opponents averaging 97.7 points per game.

However, that number has jumped to 101.3 points per game during the team's current three-game slide which ranks 19th in the league during that period of time.

The idea that Boston or any other NBA team will play great defense for 48 minutes is a pipe dream.

Every game is a 48-minute grind with defensive lulls and offensive runs a given for both teams.

But Boston's defense has to be better than it has been the last three games, if for no other reason than to bail out an offense that has been feast or famine all season.

For the season, Boston is averaging 94.2 points per game which ranks 24th in the league. That number has been even worse in the last three games with the Celtics scoring dropping to just 89 points per game which ranks 26th in the league during that span.

Relying on the offense to carry the day is a dangerous game of basketball roulette that the Celtics simply can't play any more than they have already this season.

In Boston's four wins, the Celtics have averaged 104.8 points while the seven losses have come with Boston average a woeful 88.1 points.

Over the course of an 82-game season, the better teams defensively win out more often than not.

"If you want to win basketball games in this league, you have to play defense," said Boston's Jared Sullinger. "If you're not playing defense, you might as well count on losing."