Celtics second unit establishing identity through defense

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Celtics second unit establishing identity through defense

BOSTON Establishing an identity has been one of the many challenges the Boston Celtics' second unit has had this season.

Nearing the halfway point of the season, it's clear that it is their defense that's fueling their success of late. The fact that this has indeed become their identity is surprising when you consider the C's top backups are primarily established scorers who are not considered extremely strong defenders.

Look no further than their leader Jason Terry who ranks 4th all-time in 3-pointers made (1,846).

"We found our identity," Terry said. "Our identity is on the defensive end."

The improved play of the Celtics second unit can be seen in how they have been able to dominate games recently. Boston's second unit has a margin of plus-8.8 points per game during their current five-game winning streak. Hoopsstats.com also lists the C's bench as having the highest efficiency difference (plus-23) in the last five games played.

More than anything else, the Celtics are doing a better job of contesting shots and forcing teams to get into their offense much later than they would like to.

A key to that second unit defense has been Courtney Lee who is the teams' second best on-the-ball defender behind Avery Bradley, a tandem that Doc Rivers has gone to at times that has produced really positive results.

"When you got me and Avery pressing the length of the court, there's like 10, 11 seconds on the clock by the time they make that first pass," Lee told CSNNE.com. "It's hard to get a good shot off in that little bit of time, so that's been huge for us."

And strong play defensively has opened the door for even better play by the second unit offensively.

In the last five games, the Celtics have shot 50 percent from the field on mid-range jumpers which is tops in the NBA.

Boston has also improved their scoring around the basket as the C's have made 49 percent of their shots inside the paint but not in the restricted area. That ranks fifth in the league.

"We're starting to get a little rhythm and consistency with that group," Terry said of the C's backups. "But again, that's the group that was put together from Day one and that's the group that has the most chemistry because we played together in training camp, early on in the season.

Terry added, "we're a little ahead of the curve right now. It's still a work in progress now. We still don't really have an offense when that group goes in now. But we know one thing we're going to do; we're going to defend like crazy."

Which for a group known for its shooters and void of having a lot of established defensive stoppers, is indeed impressive.

And maintaining that identity will be put to the test again tonight against a Charlotte club that has struggled most of the season, but plays with great effort.

"If we come out and play Celtics defense," Terry said, "they're going to have a tough time."

Source: Celtics offseason focus is an All-Star frontcourt addition

Source: Celtics offseason focus is an All-Star frontcourt addition

WALTHAM, Mass. – No matter how an NBA team’s season ends, change is inevitable.
 
And while there’s no doubt that the Celtics are on the right track in terms of their ascension in the NBA, it's too soon to tell how many players on the Celtics’ 15-man roster that Danny Ainge, the president of basketball operations, will bring back next season.

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“One thing I do know. He’ll make the best decisions for the team and if players don’t end up being back here, I wish the best for them,” said Avery Bradley.  “Those are my brothers. We all had a special year. I appreciate everything, all the time I had with them. I’d love for all those guys to be back. We’ll see.”
 
And with Boston coming off its first trip to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012, adding just any player won’t cut it.
 
The Celtics’ mindset now isn’t just to improve, but get good enough to where they can better compete with the likes of Cleveland, which just ended the Celtics’ season with a Game 5 thumping.
 
The most significant move made by the Celtics last offseason was the signing of Al Horford to a four-year, $113 million contract.
 
Like most of his Boston teammates this season, Horford is eager to see what changes are in store this summer.
 
“We just have to wait and see,” Horford said. “We had such a good year. A lot of positive things. It’ll be interesting to see what Danny, the organization feels is going to be the next step.”
 
Multiple league sources have told CSNNE.com in recent weeks that the Celtics are focused on landing an All-Star caliber talent in the frontcourt.
 
That makes sense when you consider how guard-dominant the Celtics were this season and how that had a negative impact on the team’s rebounding and, to a lesser degree, their defense as a whole.
 
Gordon Hayward has emerged as a target, but all indications – for now at least – point toward him returning to Utah.
 
The Celtics may pursue Los Angeles Clippers big man Blake Griffin. Although like Hayward, he too is expected to re-sign with his current team for a max contract (for Griffin that would be five years, $175 million).
 
While trades are certainly in the cards for Boston, at this point the Celtics seem more inclined to improve their overall talent base via the draft and free agency.
 
“It’s always a good thing when you have the opportunity to add value to your team and don’t have to change your team too much,” said Celtics’ reserve Gerald Green, who will be a free agent this summer. “I’m going to be very interested to see what they do as far as building a team. We’re in a good place right now as far as being where we want to be organization-wise. I feel like we’re one or two steps away from actually being at the Finals. I think Danny has some things to think about, but I’m sure he’s going to do the job. I’ve seen Danny go to work in these situations. He always makes the team better. I’m pretty sure he’s got something planned that, at the end of the day, is going to make this organization better.”
 
Indeed, the Celtics could very well strengthen their position for next season by simply locking up some of their core players who may hit the free agent market soon.
 
Boston may look to work out an extension with Isaiah Thomas before the start of this season. Because if he hits free agency in the summer of 2018, he will be poised to command a salary that in year one would be worth more than the entire four-year, $27 million deal he signed with Phoenix in 2014.
 
“Boston’s changed my career, changed my life,” Thomas said. “I would love to be here long-term and win championships here. But as you guys know, it’s a business and anything can happen. I know that and understand that. But I would love to be here. This has been everything to me. This city, this organization … it’s been good.”

It was still a banner year for Celtics, according to Bleacher Report tweet

It was still a banner year for Celtics, according to Bleacher Report tweet


Minutes after the Celtics were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, the folks at Bleacher Report tweeted a video that celebrated the C’s one victory in the series. 

Ouch. 

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There are 17 Celtics championship banners that actually exist and hang at TD Garden. You won’t be seeing one for being a “finalist” or celebrating an actual sweep, such as Spurs over Cavs in the NBA Finals.