Celtics find success with fourth-quarter zone defense

Celtics find success with fourth-quarter zone defense
December 28, 2011, 6:13 am
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MIAMI When training camp began, the Boston Celtics tinkered with playing some zone defense.

What the heck, they thought. You never know when it just might come in handy.

Even though the Celtics fell short, 115-107, at Miami, the team's zone defense was certainly something the C's can build on in the future.

According to coach Doc Rivers, his team used a zone defense on 23 possessions, with the Heat scoring just six times.

"I told them at some point, the zone defense was going to get us back in a game because no one thinks we'll ever play zone," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "And it did. It was terrific."

For the Heat, it was indeed a sight they did not see coming.

"That's the first time we've seen zone other than practice," said Miami's Chris Bosh. "We can't expect to just come right out and destroy it."

As well as the Celtics' zone worked - they trailed by as many as 15 points in the fourth, but were within 3 with 91 seconds to play - Rivers saw room for improvement.

"The six possessions they made baskets, were dribble-drives," Rivers said. "Not only Norris Cole, but Dwyane Wade. Just because you're in a zone, someone still has to guard the ball. That's what we kept telling them."

And while Rivers recognizes the flaws to his team's zone defense, he doesn't believe fixing it will be a major issue.

"We just let them beat us off the dribble," Rivers said. "That's an area that's very fixable. That's an area . . . that's where they beat us."