Much was made last season regarding Kyrie Irving’s new-found commitment on the defensive end. The numbers have backed it up as the Celtics allowed 100.4 points per game as a team last season, good for second best in the NBA. This year, the Celtics are giving up 107.1 per game but are still in the top 10 in team defense. Irving himself is tied for the team lead in charges with Marcus Smart, both of whom have 13 on the season.
“I watch Marcus slide his feet and be able to beat guys to spots and be able to take charges,” Irving said earlier this season. “To be able to do that at 6-foot-4 with a great build like that I’m like, ‘Hey I could do that too.’ So I just try to beat guys to the right spot as much as possible.”
Charges, of course, aren’t the be-all and end-all of team defense. The Celtics had a brutal team defensive performance Monday night at Staples Center against the Clippers as they gave up a whopping 140 points. It was the most points given up by a Celticsteam since 1994.
The C’s had no answers for guard Lou Williams in the Monday night loss as Williams hit on 14-of-20 from the floor and finished with 34 points. The Clippers also hit on 46.4 percent of their 3-point shots in that one, indicating that the Celtics did a poor job of closing out on shots.
All told, though, the Celtics typically do well when they are involved in shootouts. In 10 of their last 12 wins, the C’s have scored over 110 points. It’s usually the low-scoring slugfests, of which there are many in the playoffs, that the Celtics struggle in.
Neither the Celtics or Bucks eclipsed the century mark in their showdown in Milwaukee on Feb. 21 and the C’s fell by one. In the C’s last game that was played below 100, they also lost – a 97-92 decision to the Trail Blazers.
No doubt, the Celtics are going to have to tighten things up on the defensive end if they plan on making a lengthy playoff run.
The C’s are back in regular season action Thursday against the Kings (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Boston). They currently sit 1.5 games behind the 76ers and Pacers in the race for the 3 and 4 seeds in the East.