Celtics Continue To Ride League's Top Postseason Defense

BOSTON – One NBA team has separated itself from the rest when it comes to playing dominant defense during the postseason. That team is the Boston Celtics.

Boston leads the league – and by a significant margin – in every key defensive metric in the Playoffs.

Its defensive rating is 101.8, far ahead of Houston’s second-rated mark of 103.6.

It is limiting opponents to just 98.7 points per game, miles ahead of Houston’s mark of 104.7, which ranks second.

It is holding opponents to just 40.1 percent shooting from the field, well ahead of Toronto’s No. 2-rated mark of 43.0 percent.

And it is limiting opponents to just 29.2 percent shooting from 3-point range, a significant gap below Houston’s second-rated mark of 33.3 percent.

To put the greatness of Boston’s defensive run into further perspective, its defensive rating this postseason would be the best mark by any team since the 2016 Spurs if it holds or improves through the completion of the season.

That, folks, is impressive.

The process of logging such dominant numbers revolves around team effort. Unlike at the offensive end, where teams can be carried by herculean individual efforts, defense is all about the collective unit. All five players on the floor must be plugged in and on a string with their teammates. The Celtics have been in harmony at that end all season, as they entered the Playoffs with the league’s fourth-rated defense, but they have been particularly great throughout this postseason.

“Those guys guard as hard as they can,” Brad Stevens said Tuesday of his players. “They understand that if you want to win, you have to defend. It’s a big reason why we’ve been able to have the year we’ve had thus far.”

This stingy defense has helped the Celtics overcome a lot during this playoff run. The C’s have been without Gordon Hayward, a key piece of the team at both ends of the floor, for more than three weeks now. Their stars have had off nights on offense. The offense as a whole has struggled at times.

That defense, however, has been ever-present and rock solid. It has been the backbone of Boston’s playoff run, which is a very promising development.

Seven of the last 10 champions ranked in the top five in defensive rating during the postseason. Being great on defense is almost a prerequisite to winning a championship.

If the Celtics are going to reach that ultimate goal, they’ll do so by riding what is by far the most dominant defense this postseason has seen.

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