The Boston Celtics crushed the Brooklyn Nets 129-106 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which put the league on notice, Thursday night, as not only the hottest team in the association that’s won ten of their last 11 games but have risen to the upper echelon as the NBA’s best defense.
That’s precisely what Nets head coach Steve Nash had to say after watching his team take a 23-point beating of a loss in a game they never led. Jayson Tatum, fresh off his third All-Star selection, netted a game-high 30 points on 10-of-20 attempts to go with his seven rebounds and four assists.
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Steve Nash: Celtics’ Far & Away The Best Defensive Team’
He led seven Celtics players who scored in double figures. However, it wasn’t Boston’s offense that impressed Nash the most.
“They’re playing incredible basketball,” Nash said, per NESN.com’s Patrick McAvoy. “They’re far and away the best defensive team in 2022.”
The Nets were without Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Joe Harris, which Steve pointed out during his postgame media availability. Still, the former two-time MVP turned head coach says he wanted to see more from his guys, which came to no avail against the Celtics.
“I don’t care about the result, but I thought we could have played better,” Nash said. “Could have made less mistakes, could have done more things that would have made tonight more productive, and that’s all it is. We recognize we’re shorthanded. We know we’re sending these guys out there and asking them to do more than they’re accustomed to doing, and that’s tough. But, at the same time, they’ve responded every time we’ve asked them to keep their spirits high and work.
“That was clearly on display in practice yesterday. Today, we needed a bit more.”
Al Horford on Celtics’ ‘Focus’ of Late
Boston’s incredible defense of late led to the biggest blowout win of the regular season, last month’s 53-point onslaught against the Sacramento Kings (128-75) on Jan. 25. Then came a 108-92 loss against the Atlanta Hawks, but the Celtics have pretty much been cruising ever since.
The Celtics won their last ten games by an average margin of 21.8 points, including beating a top-ranked Miami Heat team by 30 on Jan. 31 (122-92) and demolishing the rival Philadelphia 76ers by 48 (135-87) on Feb. 15.
Earlier this week, coach Udoka called team practice a mini-camp, a refresher, for his guys coming off All-Star break. Only Tatum, who returned from Cleveland’s All-Star festivities, received the day off.
And according to Celtics veteran Al Horford, the mini-camp reinstalled the same focus to detail on defense that Udoka’s been preaching all season long.
“(I’m) just real impressed with our group, and like coach said, the focus,” Horford said after Thursday’s win. “That’s one of the things he talked about, and he emphasized for us, and I think it all started with that practice yesterday. I felt like we had a really good practice, and we were all really engaged, committed in what we needed to do.”