Thursday, February 9, 2012

Celtics’ turnaround sparked by defense

The Boston Celtics have had their share of problems this season. Injuries have caused starters Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo to miss games and the team seemed out of sync to start the season.

Boston already had depth issues before having to suffer through the missed games from their starters and Pierce’s slumping play once he returned. Despite the hardships though, the Celtics have quietly climbed the standings over the past few weeks. After a tumultuous 5-9 start the Celtics have gone 9-1 over the past ten games.

With scoring at a premium in Beantown, the Celtics have had to depend on the thing they do best. The one thing that was so instrumental in them reaching back-to-back NBA Finals and that is their defense.

You see the Celtics weren’t just out of sync offensively to start the season, they were out of sync defensively also. Boston was allowing its opponents to average 90.1 points-per-game during their 5-9 start. While most teams would love defensive numbers like that, the Celtics were only scoring 88.9 points-per-game themselves.

Over the last ten games the Celtics have taken their defense up to another level holding opponents to 81.5 points-per-game. And how does the old saying go? “Defense creates offense?” Well that may be true for the Celtics who have also upped their scoring to 93.5 points-per-game.

Which is pretty amazing when you consider that Allen missed three games of their current 9-1 run with an injury and Rondo only played in the last three games after missing eight straight. With his teammates out, Pierce has really upped his play to cover for them despite his own lingering injuries.

Pierce’s scoring increased a little but he has impacted games in other areas during the Celtics’ current run. He has made at least five assists in each of the past ten games and even had double digit assists in two of their wins. He has also grabbed at least six rebounds in all but two of those games.

And now that they have their full starting unit back the C’s will have to continue to keep up that defensive intensity because they are only the 25th ranked offense despite the slight uptick in scoring. They have only been able to reach 100 points five times all season. There are three teams in the league that average over 100 points-per-game.

But hopefully Boston’s scoring woes won’t be a detriment if they can continue to play lights out defensively. The Celtic’s are the only team ranked offensively in the bottom third of the league that still manages to outscore their opponents.

But if the old saying is right, then maybe Boston’s defense is the key to keeping them afloat offensively. If they are to have even a remote chance at making it back to the Finals that had best be the case. It may be a while before they get another shot if they don’t get it done this season. 

Roosevelt Hall is an NBA Blogger for The Sport Mentalist 2 and also writes for Shatter The Backboard. He can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist and add him on Facebook Roosevelt Hall Thesportmentalist.  

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