Celtics ready to use zone defense again


Celtics ready to use zone defense again

MIAMI For most of Boston's Game 1 loss to Miami, the Heat got any and every shot they wanted.

So as the fourth quarter rolled around and C's coach Doc Rivers had seemingly exhausted just about every tweak and twist he could to his team's leaky man-to-man coverage, he played his final card: the zone defense.

It didn't provide the kind of game-changing impact the Celtics would have liked, but it did at the very least provide enough of a disruption to the Heat's offensive flow to keep the game relatively close down the stretch.

So much so that Rivers made it clear afterward that the cameo appearance by the Celtics' zone defense was not going to be a one-night only performance.

"You'll see it," Rivers said when asked about its use throughout this series. "We like it. We've been working on zone all year even though we've played it probably five times, six times all year."

Said C's guard Keyon Dooling: "Our half court defense has to be better than it was (in Game 1) for us to have a chance at winning. But our zone defense, it can be very good for us to use in spurts."

Among the first times the Celtics used a zone this season, was back on December 28 when the C's faced the Miami Heat and lost, 115-107.

It was the first time the Celtics played zone for a significant period of time.

After the Dec. 28 loss, Rivers said his team used a zone defense on 23 possessions that night, limiting the Heat to scoring just six times.

"At some point, (the zone defense) was going to get us back in a game because no one things we'll ever play zone," Rivers said at the time. "It was terrific."

Much like Monday's loss, Miami was having its way with the Celtics defense until the zone, once again, threw Miami off stride.

The Heat shot 50 percent (36-for-72) from the field in Game One. But in the fourth quarter, Miami connected on 45 percent (9-for-20) of its shots which was the Heat's worst shooting quarter of the game, and the only one in which the Celtics played a fairly extensive bit of zone coverage.

It forced the Heat to rely more on its perimeter shooting which was for the most part not very good.

Miami connected on just 20 percent (5-for-25) of its 3-pointers, and that tally includes Mike Miller making both of his attempts.

"We believe it (zone defense) will be effective in this series," Rivers said. "But when you're down 16 or 18, you're kind of caught, do you use it or wait for the next game, or do you show it and try to see what they run and then make adjustments to it? And that was the final decision we made. At that point when we ran it, I didn't know if we were going to make a run. I was trying to see really how we could tweak it to make it better."

The Celtics would prefer to rely on its man-to-man defense in order to be successful.

But this time of year, with so much riding on each and every game, the C's understand that you have to do anything and everything to give yourself a chance to win -- even if it means playing more zone defense.

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
This season, all-NBA first team defender is  the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.


Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

WALTHAM, Mass. – To dunk or not to dunk with the best in the NBA?
That is the question Celtics rookie forward Jaylen Brown is grappling with these days.
The 6-foot-7 Brown confirmed that he has been invited to be part of the league’s Slam Dunk competition at All-Star weekend, but hasn’t made up his mind as to whether he will participate.
Brown said he’ll likely make a decision about it sometime this weekend.
While he certainly understands that is indeed an honor for any player to be asked to participate in All-Star weekend, Brown said his trepidation about being part of the slam dunk competition has a lot to do with its potential impact on his body and how that may affect his ability to recharge over the weekend and get ready to finish out his rookie season strong.
If he decided to enter the contest, he would be facing some really stiff competition from last year’s winner Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, whose battle last season put their slam dunk competition among the best ever.
Facing tough competition is not something that concerns Brown.
“I’m not worried about anybody or anything,” Brown said. “I think I have a lot to offer. Just like your rookie year, your body and everything … it’s a lot. All those dunks, they look cool but it takes a toll on your body for sure. I want to put myself in the best position to help the team.”
While his focus has been on the Celtics, Brown acknowledged he has been getting a few tips on the competition from teammate Gerald Green, who is also a former Slam Dunk champion.
“[Gerald] Green has been coaching me up, giving me a lot of good ideas I wouldn’t have thought on my own,” Brown said. “If I do decide to do it, it’ll be some stuff [nobody] has seen before.”