Rewind to the first few years of the most recent “Big 3” in Boston. Those Celtics knew that their best way to win a championship was to go against the usual trend in the NBA and actually lock opponents down on defense. And, for the most part, it worked. Fast-forward to right now and that defensive mindset seems to be out the window. Now, why is this the case?
Doc Rivers will blow off any perception that the team’s identity has changed; yet it’s hard to deny the overwhelming stats that would contradict that standpoint.
This years Celtics rank 23rd in the league in PPG as they have given up 100.1 per contest. To put this in perspective, the 2007-08 Celtics gave up 88.5 PPG in as many games into that campaign.
Adding insult to injury, Celtics opponents have eclipsed the 100-point mark seven times this season. Last year’s squad only allowed triple digits eleven times in the shortened 66 game season.
Numbers never lie, and this saying stays true here as this current installment of the Boston Celtics may be going through an identity change. This makes the main topic of debate whether an offense-first style can work in Boston.
Rivers will always say that he wants his club to be well balanced on both ends of the ball. He is well aware that defense is what won him a championship back in 2008, so don’t expect Doc to be going all Mike D’Antoni on us anytime soon. But the mentality will have to change soon unless Rivers wants to keep answering the same questions about the team’s true identity
While offensive numbers have gone up this year compared to former teams, high scoring games alone will not put the Celtics where they want to be at the end of the season. After all, there’s a reason why many analysts were naming Boston the second best team in the Eastern Conference before the season started, and that’s because the additions in the offseason were supposed to boost their offense but not lead to a lacking effort on the other end of the ball.
Give Rajon Rondo credit for keeping the offense rolling 14 games into the season, but Rondo and company know what lies ahead of them. That will be a long season filled with ups and downs, and will only improve as the team’s commitment on the defensive end rises. The talent on this team is as good as Boston has seen in the past four seasons, but talent alone doesn’t win you anything in this league. Defense wins championships. End of story–literally.