Pregame Post-Ups: C’s Defense to be Tested vs. Kings of Transition Offense

Thursday, March 14 - Kings at Celtics

Pregame – C’s Defense to be Tested vs. Kings of Transition Offense

BOSTON – There is one area of play that Brad Stevens hopes his Celtics can improve upon above all others as the Playoffs approach: transition defense. With that in mind, there is no better test than the one Boston is about to face Thursday night, as it takes on the NBA’s No. 1 transition offense in the Sacramento Kings.

“They’re having a great year,” Stevens said of the Kings, whom the Celtics edged, 111-109, last week in Sacramento. “Their depth is really good, they play at the best pace in the league, and we’ve been one of the worst transition teams since the All-Star break. This is the best transition offensive team in the league, so that is going to be where the game starts, obviously. We have to do a much better job in transition. They put you on your heels the whole time.”

Sacramento’s commanding pace all starts with De’Aaron Fox. The 21-year-old speedster has been the face of the Kings’ offense this season behind 17.5 points and 7.2 assists per game.

"It behooves us to give him the most amount of space possible," said Kings coach Dave Joerger. "We've improved our pace, our 3-point shooting, but giving him the room to play I think it feeds a lot of areas where we have some strengths going forward."

Under Fox's guidance, Sacramento has produced a league-leading 21.0 fast-break points per game. The Celtics, meanwhile, have ranked second-to-last in the NBA in fast-break points allowed (21.2) since the All-Star break. They surrendered 23 such points to the Kings during last week’s matchup, while only scoring nine of their own.

“This is the best thing we can be doing tonight,” Stevens reiterated. “Playing against the best transition offense in the league and really becoming even more committed to being great at that.”

- Taylor Snow