OFFSEASON

Wade: Celtics play toughest defense

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Wade: Celtics play toughest defense

Defense has been the foundation of the Boston Celtics systems for years. The mentality that defensive stops lead to offensive opportunities is a mindset adopted by players in order to be successful on the team.

When the New York Times recently asked Dwyane Wade who plays him the toughest on defense, the Miami Heat guard replied with a collective answer.

I would say its more about the teams that play defense more than an individual player, Wade said. The Boston Celtics team defense is tough. The game is different now. Its not one guy that shuts you down. Its a team. They play a defense that stops you from getting to the paint.

Wade averaged 21.4 points per game (44.4 FG, 25.0 3PG) last season in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics, compared to his overall 2012 playoffs average of 22.8 points (46.2, 29.4).

Last season the Celtics ranked second in fewest points allowed by opponents (89.3 ppg) in spite of finishing last in rebounds per game (38.8 rpg).

OFFSEASON

Celtics are anything but "a middle of the road team"

Celtics are anything but "a middle of the road team"

Charles Barkley said Friday that the Boston Celtics are a "middle of the road team in no man's land." Kevin O'Connor joined Greg Dickerson on Sports Tonight and explained just how foolish of a statement that is.

Make sure you watch the video above, but here are some of the key stats O'Connor mentions regarding the state of the Celtics.

Competitive teams rarely select at the top of the draft, but the Celtics have already done it before and could again in 2017 and 2018. Over the last 40 years, only 10 teams have won at least 45 games and used a top five pick in the draft. Here’s the list:

PLAYER TEAM WINS YEAR PICK
Greg Ballard Washington 48 1977 4
Mychal Thompson Portland 58 1978 1
Magic Johnson LA Lakers 47 1979 1
Kevin McHale Boston 61 1980 3
James Worthy LA Lakers 57 1982 1
Charles Barkley Philadelphia 52 1984 5
Sam Bowie Portland 48 1984 2
Len Bias Boston 67 1986 2
Darko Milicic Detroit 50 2003 2
Jaylen Brown Boston 48 2016 3

Two of those teams won a single championship (Washington and Detroit). Two became dynasties (Boston and the Lakers). Four of the players are Hall of Famers (Johnson, McHale, Worthy, Barkley). You’ll also find Jaylen Brown, who could be a cornerstone even if we don’t know it yet.

If they play their cards right and the Nets struggle as much as everyone expects them to, they’ll be right back in the conversation for another star next season. Due to their tremendous flexibility, that could happen through the draft, the trade market, or free agency.

For more on this topic, click here.

OFFSEASON

Carroll: Crowder doesn't understand what it takes to win in playoffs

Carroll: Crowder doesn't understand what it takes to win in playoffs

Celtics forward Jae Crowder recently said, “Toronto is not a team we’re worried about,” and Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll thinks that's a silly comment to make.

“It’s a comment from a person who hasn’t really been in the playoffs that much. That’s how I reacted to that type of comment. When you haven’t been on that level and you don’t understand what it takes to get to that level. Myself going to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals, I understand what it takes,” Carroll said on SportsNet.ca. “It’s a comment from a guy who hasn’t been on that level, who hasn’t played on that level. It sounds like a young comment.”

The Raptors won 56 games last season and went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals before falling in six games to the Cavaliers, so Carroll is right that he’s speaking from experience.

But you can understand the confidence Crowder has. After winning 48 games last season, the Celtics just landed Al Horford, and they have repeatedly said they’re not done making moves. So perhaps their roster will look even better on Opening Night than it does right now.

Carroll doesn’t care about that though.

“We’ll let Jae Crowder do all the talking,” Carroll said. “We’ll just fly under the radar and do what we’re supposed to do.”

The Celtics went 1-3 versus the Raptors last season. They better hope they perform better next season, or Carroll might be the one talking.

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics 'won't give up much' for Okafor

Report: Celtics 'won't give up much' for Okafor

Just recently, CSNNE.com's A. Sherrod Blakely laid out a compelling case why the Celtics are far more likely to trade for Jahlil Okafor than make a blockbuster for Russell Westbrook or Blake Griffin.

But, apparently, they're not willing to give up a whole lot to get him.

According to Keith Pompay of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Celtics have concerns about Okafor's off-court problems, including two incidents in Boston, and "will not give up much" to get him:

"[The Celtics] have concerns about his playing in the city after being involved in two street fights there in the early hours of Thanksgiving morning. Nor do they like the fact that the center saw a gun pointed at his head in Old City and that he was stopped for going 108 mph over the Ben Franklin Bridge."

Pompay reports the Sixers "are determined to receive equal value in any trade," which -- if the Celts actually are hesitant to bring Okafor on board -- would seem to make Okafor-to-Boston unlikely. Especially since, in the words of NBC's Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin, "Okafor would fit with the Celtics -- the guy can score inside and rebound, valuable NBA skills -- but he’s not the game-changer they need. He’s okay. He’s not the answer."

Or perhaps the two sides using the media to lower/raise the price tag.

Stay tuned.