You could understand the scepticism that surrounded the Boston Celtics as they prepared to face the Brooklyn Nets in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs. Not only were they going to be without two of their greatest interior players for the series.
But they were also facing the best offensive duo the NBA, if not the entire history of basketball, had to offer. But the Celtics’ strong defensive play through two games has helped them to a commanding 2-0 series lead.
Named The League’s Defensive MVP.
The Celtics have Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, two dangerous scorers in their own right, but this is a team that has prioritised defence all year. They had the greatest defensive rating in the NBA at the regular season’s end, and their “best” perimeter defender was named the league’s defensive MVP.
The Celtics aren’t the only postseason team demonstrating the importance of defence. In addition to being a top offensive club, the Houston Rockets have been outstanding on defence. In their first-round matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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Demonstrating The Importance Of Defence
The Rockets allowed just 98.1 points per 100 possessions, good for second-best in the playoffs. The Rockets neutralised one of the Thunder’s greatest advantages by limiting their three-point shooting to just 32% of their total shots.
Similarly, the Golden State Warriors are demonstrating the importance of defence in the postseason. In the playoffs, the Warriors have continued to demonstrate why they were one of the top defensive teams in the NBA all season.
Another Strength Was Neutralised
The Warriors allowed just 97 points per 100 possessions in their first-round series against the San Antonio Spurs, enough for third-best in the playoffs. Another strength was neutralised, as they limited the San Antonio Spurs to only 29 percent three-point shooting.
The percentage here is 7 points below their typical performance over the season. Game 1 Kyrie scored 39 points, but in Game 2 he was abysmally bad and scored just two. Over the course of the game, he shot 31% from the field and scored 10 points. Additionally, he shot 0 for 1 from beyond the arc.
The Celtics Are Very Difficult Team To Beat
The Celtics are making a strong case for the importance of defence in a series that has been framed as offence versus defence. Indeed, in two games, they have demonstrated that, even without probably their greatest defender (Robert Williams), the Celtics are going to be a very difficult (if not impossible) team to beat in the playoffs.
With a focus on defence, the Celtics have established themselves as serious title contenders this year. The Celtics are making a strong case for the importance of defence in a series that has been framed as offence versus defence.
The Celtics have already shown in the first two games of the playoffs that they will be a formidable opponent despite without their greatest defender, Robert Williams.