By: Jordan Kneen
The Nuggets started 6/6 from the field on Wednesday night and put up 31 points against a pathetic Celtics defense in the first quarter.
That wouldn’t be enough to bury the Celtics offense though, which exploded for 124 points at the TD Garden. On a night when Al Horford and Marcus Morris did not play, the Celtics managed to shoot 59.5% from the field and four of the five starters (Brown, Tatum, Irving and Baynes) shot over 60%.
The Celtics will be happy to get out with a win but, the offensive barrage masked the real issues on the night. Defense and Rebounding.
The team struggled all night on the boards. Denver out rebounded the Celtics 48-30. Twenty of those rebounds were on the offensive glass. Horford may have been out, but the Celtics were oddly reminiscent of last years team which also struggled to rebound the basketball. Sure this was one night and the Celtics have been better on the glass this year, but they need to be careful that this doesn’t become a habit in the same way that their declining defense has.
Giving up 118 points last night is definitely not going to help their defensive metrics. The Celtics struggled all night with dribble handoffs and pick-and-rolls. In the video below, Theis and Brown were shredded on defense by Gary Harris in a simple pick-and-roll play, a staple in most NBA offenses.
Horford and Morris could have helped in that area however poor defensive nights like this one have started to become staples of this young Celtics season. Early on during the 16-game win streak, the Celtics prided themselves on playing lock down defense to keep them in games. They would fall down, lock in defensively and wait for the likes of Irving and company to heat up on the offensive end. Now this team is trying to operate like Houston Rockets.
In other words, their offense is their best defense. Although right now, it seems as though it is their only form of defense. They needed every little bit of their 124 points last night to beat a banged up Nuggets team missing both Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic.
Maybe that’s okay though. After all, the Rockets do have the highest win percentage in the league (.846) and have only lost 4 times this year. They are also currently repping one of the greatest offensive seasons ever.
You can bet that Stevens and the Celtics will not be thinking like this though. It’s December. Good teams have nights like this, nights when nothing goes right defensively. At some point, they’ll turn this thing around.
Feature Photo By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA – Jaylen Brown, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58515904