Pressing the Issue
WALTHAM, Mass. – Know how a changeup can throw off a hitter at the plate at a baseball game? Well, the Celtics may have discovered their own basketball version of the changeup Friday night.
Midway through the second quarter of their 107-94 victory over the Nets, the Celtics turned on a full-court press that threw New Jersey into a funk. The Nets couldn’t handle the pressure and Boston wound up going on a 14-0 run that put the game in its back pocket.
We have seen the Celtics apply full-court pressure in the past, but it was on an individual basis. Avery Bradley actually made his name with that pressure while Rajon Rondo rested a sprained wrist back in late January. Friday’s pressure, however, was a different story. This time Bradley had company.
“When I picked up full court it’s kind of like our whole team was picking up full court, and so it’s tough when you play against teams like that,” Bradley said after practice on Saturday.
It wasn’t a mirage – Boston’s entire team was picking up full court, including big guys like Kevin Garnett and Chris Wilcox.
“I bet you he didn’t even know what was going on after that,” Bradley joked about Garnett. “But you know, we all kind of just smiled about it today and were like, ‘Dang, that does work.’ “
It certainly does, because the Nets had no inkling of how to break the press once it got into full swing.
Boston’s defense is already one of the best, if not the best, in the NBA. That’s when opponents are operating on a full shot clock of 24 seconds. When the Celtics put on the full-court press, it shaves off nearly half of the shot clock before the opponent can even gets into its offensive set.
“When you’re pressing them up the floor and giving them 13 to 11 seconds to run their offense, that kind of helps out our defense,” said Wilcox.
Kind of helps out their defense? No. It turned Boston’s already dominant defense into an unbreakable wall. New Jersey shot just 31.3 percent in the second quarter of Friday night’s game. The Nets also committed seven turnovers that led to 10 Boston points.
“What makes it so tough is that we’re doing it after made baskets,” said Bradley. “So the other team is kind of like, ‘Dang, we just got scored on, now they’re picking us up full court.’ I feel like we don’t get to practice much, so us doing that in the game just shows us how good we could be if we were doing it in practice too.”
Alert the siren for the New York Knicks, because the Celtics just held a practice today.
Boston and New York will face off at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon on ABC in a very important game for both squads. Based on the impact the Celtics’ full-court press made on Friday, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that we’ll see it again tomorrow.
“It’s definitely something that we will be doing every game, I’m pretty sure,” said Bradley.
That doesn’t sound like a bad idea if you’re a Celtics fan. If Boston throws its changeup at the Knicks tomorrow, it can only hope that it makes as great of an impact as it did on Friday.