We often wonder what opposing teams, their beat reporters and bloggers are saying about the Celtics. Here’s a look at some enemy chatter from Portland.
That respectability lasted approximately 2.5 nanoseconds after the second half commenced, as Boston proceeded to nuke the Blazers back into the Stone Age. They demonstrated an element that Portland hasn’t mastered yet: suffocating defense. Their guards pressured the Blazer backcourt hard, occasionally employing help from bigs but mostly just getting in Portland’s jocks and Portland’s head. Driving and passing lanes that opened easily in the first half now required 6 dribbles and 3 changes of direction to find. McCollum and Damian Lillard were capable of those moves, but Portland’s offense depends on reading, timing, and correct anticipation.
With the defense so tight and the guards taking so long to come free, none of the off-ball players could tell when and where the next opening would appear. They didn’t know which seams to hit or how to time their cuts. When they weren’t guessing incorrectly they ended up standing still, trying to figure it out. This allowed other Celtics defenders to stay close, taking away all Portland’s open looks. It was the kiss of death.
The Blazers were tired tonight and had no legs in the second half. That certainly contributed to the loss. But the Blazers wouldn’t have been as tired had the game remained an offensive free-for-all. The Celtics deserve absolute, full credit for their defensive prowess. This was a big-time showing from Boston. They put Portland’s guards in a box and only let them out for bi-weekly visitation.
A refreshing take on the ass-whooping Boston bestowed upon the Blazers last night. Much of the commentary I’ve heard/read (even my own) was tempered by the fact Portland was finishing up a vicious road trip.
The schedule is brutal for every team at one or two points in the season. It’s best to employ the mentality of one Larry Joe Bird who said, “41 home, 41 away, looks right to me.”
(Image courtesy SB Nation/USA Today)