Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Mark Murphy-Boston Herald:
During the five games since that infamous Nov. 28 night, when coach Doc Rivers branded his players a bunch of softies, the Celtics have allowed an average of 87.4 points per game. They didn’t allow more than 95 points during that stretch, and that total was the result of last Friday’s overtime loss in Philadelphia.
That’s progress for a team that in the 14 games prior to their Nov. 28 caning by the Nets allowed opponents to score more than 100 points seven times. The modest improvement has the Celtics ranked 13th in the NBA in scoring defense (96.7 ppg) and 15th in field goal defense (44.4 percent).
So it appears Doc’s “soft” quotes really have made an impact on this squad. But I think fans would like to see a nice stretch of wins and some consistency before jumping the gun. Kevin Garnett feels the same way:
“I don’t want to say that,” Garnett said when asked if the Celtics had turned the corner defensively. “I want to see how we are after another four or five games, so we can put together a nice defensive stand. Then I can come back with a little more of an answer.
“But for right now, we’re just going one day at a time, one practice at a time and one game at a time. Hopefully, then we’ll be more consistent with what we’re doing.”
The one guy who we all agree will help this team seriously in regaining it’s defensive prowess is Avery Bradley. He became the Celtics’ “stopper” last season, and Doc must be salivating at the thought that he is so close to a return. But in the meantime and in between time, guys like newcomer Courtney Lee have been welcome additions.
“The pick-and-roll defense has improved dramatically. Our rotation still is not there, but they’re much better. Without Avery (Bradley), we just kind of backed off of pressuring the ball. So I know that’s an area we’re going to get way better. Because when he does it everyone does it and it helps your team. Right now, it’s just hard to do.”
Bradley, though, hasn’t even been cleared for contact and practice yet, let alone games. So in the short term, the Celtics have to improve without help from their best wing defender.
“We’re confident, we see we’re getting better day in and day out on tape, but when we see it when we lose we kind of look back at it like, ‘Are these things working for us?’ ” said Courtney Lee. “But like I said, you can see us coming together. Our rotations and everything is getting better, so we just have to stick with it. I think we’re pretty close, man, we can start with (Sunday’s win). . . . A lot of it is doing your work early, being there on pick-and-rolls, rotating, talking to each other and being in the right spots.”
It’s very clear that getting “STOPZ” as I like to call them on Twitter, will be key if this team wants to even sniff a conference finals berth. The defense’s Robin to KG’s Batman coming back will play a huge part in that. Hopefully we won’t have to wait much longer…