The Boston Celtics were the best defensive team in the NBA during the regular season. They finished with a league-leading defensive rating of 106.2, and so far, they have maintained that pace throughout the playoffs. Outside of the Milwaukee Bucks, who Boston beat in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, they have the top defensive rating in the playoffs at 106.7.
With Ime Udoka’s defensive system, the Celtics have thrived. Boston’s versatile defensive lineup allows them to switch everything, cutting off pick-and-rolls and preventing shooters from getting open looks on the perimeter.
Boston was rewarded for their defensive efforts at the end of the season, as two of their players were named to the NBA All-Defensive Teams. Point guard Marcus Smart was voted onto the First Team, while big man Robert Williams III made the Second Team.
Both Smart and Williams played crucial roles in the Celtics’ defensive scheme, and Smart was also named Defensive Player of the Year. Williams received some Defensive Player of the Year, finishing seventh in the voting.
Smart earned 99 votes for First Team out of 100 potential votes but received zero votes for Second Team. That means one voter left Smart off their ballot entirely, despite the guard winning Defensive Player of the Year.
Voting for the All-Defensive Teams was close, but both Smart and Williams made it comfortably.
NBA All-Defense Teams Voting
Smart was one of two players to receive over 90 votes for All-Defensive First Team, with the other being Mikal Bridges of the Phoenix Suns. Along with those two, the First Team was rounded out by Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks, Jaren Jackson Jr. of the Memphis Grizzlies, and Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.
Williams received three votes for the First Team but ended up landing on the Second Team. He was joined by Jrue Holiday of the Bucks, Matisse Thybulle of the Philadelphia 76ers, Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors, and Bam Abedayo of the Miami Heat.
Four players earned over 20 points but did not make either of the two teams. Those players were Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors (41), Joel Embiid of the 76ers (33), Dejounte Murray of the San Antonio Spurs (24), and Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns (21).
In addition, four other Celtics outside of Smart and Williams received votes for the All-Defensive Teams.
Six Celtics Earned Votes
Although only Smart and Williams earned spots on the two All-Defensive Teams, four other players came close for Boston. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, and Derrick White all received votes.
Tatum earned the most points of any Celtics outside of Smart and Williams. He got one vote for First Team and two for Second Team, totaling five points. White was next up, as he got three votes for Second Team, earning him three points. Lastly, Horford and Brown both got two points, with each receiving one vote for First Team.
Boston had more players earn votes than any other team in the league. Their top-notch defense carried them through the regular season, and the voters acknowledged that with their decisions.