Pregame Post-Ups: Celtics Striving for Greater Defensive Consistency

Sunday, January 3 - Celtics at Pistons

Pregame – Celtics Striving for Defensive Consistency

Last season’s success for the Boston Celtics was driven by their effort on the defensive end. Their 106.5 defensive rating ranked fourth in the NBA and it was a major reason why they were able to make it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals.

However, so far this season, Boston has struggled in that area. Its 109.7 defensive rating ranks 21st in the league, and it has a 3-3 record to show for it.

“I think we have the makings of a capable defensive team, yes,” Brad Stevens said Sunday afternoon before tipping off against the Pistons in Detroit. “But I’m not sure that we have shown that we’re a good defensive team by any means.”

But that doesn’t mean that they won’t become one.

The Celtics have all the makings of returning to elite form on that end of the court. It’s all about finding the inner motivation to do so and carrying out their individual responsibilities with consistent effort.

Last year’s defensive motivation, for example, was driven by the doubt they faced from the outside world ahead of the season.

“A lot of people didn’t think we would be very good defensively, but it was a real team-wide commitment to be great on that end of the floor, and I think that was something that helped buoy us at the start,” Stevens said. “It showed true most of the playoff run, at times we weren’t as good, but for the most part I thought we hung our hat on that end of the floor because it gives you a chance to win.”

Stevens has seen flashes of such commitment throughout the first six games, but he wants to see it more regularly.

“This team has had its moments,” he said. “It’s improved in the last three games, four games, over the first couple. But we’re not where we want to be defensively, by any means. Some of that is guys that are new picking up schemes and some of that is we do have some good defenders and we do have some areas we have to manage.”

Judging by last season’s success, this Celtics team has all the talent it needs in order to return to the top of defensive rankings. For some groups, it just takes a bit of time to pick up and maintain the proper habits on that end of the court.

- Taylor Snow

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