The Boston Celtics are proving that defense matters in the NBA Playoffs.
Heading into their first-round NBA Playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets, it was easy to see why some were fading the Boston Celtics.
Not only were they going to miss their best interior presences in the series, but they also were going against arguably the best offensive duo the NBA has to offer – maybe ever. That said, through two games, the Celtics have a 2-0 series lead in large part because of the job that they’ve done on the defensive end.
Sure, the Celtics have their own offensive threats in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but this is a team that has been defensive-first all season long. They finished the regular season with the No. 1 defensive rating and the team’s “best” perimeter defender won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award.
Through two games in the postseason, the Celtics have also “held” the Nets to just the 8th best offense in the playoffs. For a team that has Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant leading the way, that should be viewed as a resounding success.
And, perhaps more than anything, the Celtics did a number on Durant and Kyrie in Game 2. Boston had to come from down 17 against Durant and Kyrie. On the surface, that seems nearly impossible. However, the Celtics have Durant second-guessing himself and Kyrie is coming off one of his worst games of the season in Game 2.
Through two games, Durant is only shooting 31 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3-point range. He’s averaging 25 points per game, but on 21 shots per game. Compare that to his regular season averages, and it’s easy to see how well the Celtics are defending him.
After a 39-point performance in Game 1, Kyrie had an epically terrible performance in Game 2. He finished with 10 points on 31 percent shooting from the field overall. He also went 0-1 from 3-point range.
In a series that was pretty much viewed as defense vs. offense, the Celtics are proving that the “other” side of the court still matters. And through two games, they’ve proven that, even without arguably their best defender (Robert Williams), the Celtics are going to be a very difficult (if not impossible) team to beat in the playoffs.
The Celtics are very much a threat to win it all this season and they’e doing so with a defensive-minded approach first.