Last season, the Boston Celtics made their name by being one of the toughest defensive team’s in the NBA.
However, as the current season has progressed, the Celtics have gone away from their defensive identity, much to their own detriment, as they continue to see big leads dissipate down the stretch.
When speaking on a March 17 episode of The Lowe Post Podcast, former Celtic turned play-by-play announcer Brian Scalabrine discussed Boston’s defensive regression and why it’s hurting the team’s current level of play.
“They don’t guard at nearly the clip that they used to guard at,” Scalabrine said. “It used to be that everyone’s fighting to be the best defender on the team. It was a good rivalry … It used to be a thing. They used to take pride in guarding the ball. They used to take pride in shutting down the other team’s best player…they’re far from, far from a 48-minute per game team that sits down defensively and really works on that side of the ball.”
The Celtics have gone 7-6 since returning from the All-Star break and have had some tough losses in recent weeks, including their most recent loss to the Utah Jazz on March 18.
Chris Forsberg Questions Sitting Derrick White
According to a March 19 article by NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg, there is another potential reason why the Celtics could be struggling, and that’s due to inconsistent rotations – especially at the guard position.
With the Celtics struggling to command of their game against Utah, Joe Mazzulla opted to keep Derrick White glued to the bench for the fourth quarter, despite him being one of Boston’s best players this season.
“But White’s fourth-quarter DNP on Saturday night was downright baffling,” Forsberg wrote. “The Celtics were playing without three starters, including Smart, and couldn’t find any time for White? Yes, the Celtics needed size but White is one of the team’s best decision-makers and can often negate the size he gives up with his basketball IQ. He needs to be on the floor more regardless of matchups.”
White has been an ever-present for Boston this season, playing in all 72 games and averaging 12 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game while shooting 46.1% from the field and 37.4% from deep.
Celtics Get Updated Timeline For Robert Williams
Hopefully, Robert Williams’ impending return from injury will help boost Boston’s defensive efficiency, especially if he is tasked with patrolling the paint and guarding the rim. Fortunately for Celtics fans, Mazzulla recently provided an updated timeline on when Williams could potentially return to the court.
“He went through it pretty good,” Mazzulla said, “Still on the timeline. Hopefully, within the next week or so…He responded well to the workout yesterday. Today was a lighter day for him.”
Williams has been missing from Boston’s rotation for the majority of the season, playing in just 28 games this season. However, if the Celtics are going to regain their edge on the defensive end, they will need Williams to get back to his best quickly, as when he’s on the court, it’s clear how much better Boston is as an overall unit.