by Trey Adell
Ever since Kevin Garnett stepped on the historic parquet floor at TD Garden, the Boston Celtics have been known for their suffocating defense. They were a juggernaut that forced teams into unfamiliar situations, hounding players on the perimeter and making them fear venturing into the paint. Now they are a small team that is struggling guarding “pick and rolls,” protecting the rim and three-point shots – all necessities to being a great defensive team. Right now, the Celtics are 19th in points allowed per-game (99.3), 27th in opponent’s field goal percentage (.463), and 23rd in opponent’s three-point field goal percentage (.368) – which are all team lows since the “Big Three” Era began in 2007-08.
Right now it just seems as if the Celtics do not have the personnel to be a great defensive team. They do not have the size necessary to challenge opponents at the rim or near the basket. According to HoopData.com, the Celtics are the fifth-worst defensive team at the rim (with opponents shooting 67.7 percent) and also the third-worst defensive team at 3-9 feet (45.9 percent). I think we all knew going in that this team was going to have trouble defending the rim since they primarily play very small lineups with Garnett being really the only legit seven-foot option in the rotation. Now there is still some reason to have hope with defensive ace Avery Bradley scheduled to make his return sometime in mid-December. According to 82games.com, four of the five 5 lineups that featured Bradley last season gave up less than one point per possession. Bradley’s defensive is so important to this team’s success as his ability to pressure the ball in the backcourt and take precious seconds off of the shot clock is invaluable.
Maybe this season’s defensive struggles can attributed to the lack of chemistry between new guys or that it still is missing one of its premier defenders, whatever it is it needs to be fixed. If this Celtics team is going to compete for a championship, the defense needs to return to it’s former glory.