Brad Stevens says Celtics are taking too many shortcuts defensively
The Toronto Raptors delivered a statement win on Tuesday night, defeating the Boston Celtics by a score of 118-95. The Celtics were thoroughly embarrassed, losing by as much as 31 points in the third quarter. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens laid into his team’s defensive effort after the game, claiming that they played lackadaisical defense the whole contest.
Brad Stevens: “I thought we were all over the place defensively, and when I say all over the place I mean we were taking a lot of shortcuts.”
— Jay King (@ByJayKing) February 27, 2019
The Celtics usually pride themselves on their defensive ability. The team boasts multiple players who are known as lockdown defenders, such as Marcus Smart and Al Horford.
Unfortunately for Boston, the defense never materialized against the Raptors. Pascal Siakam scored 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field. This is almost 10 points above his season average. Toronto star Kawhi Leonard also had a great night, scoring 21 points in only 25 minutes. Throughout the night, he poured in midrange jumpers at will in seemingly effortless fashion.
The Celtics hope that this game will be an anomaly going forward. Per NBA stats, the team is ranked as the fifth best defensive team in the league. They allow only 106.1 points per game, which is usually enough for the offense to pull them ahead. They also rank third in the league in steals per game.
If the Celtics want to make the Finals this year, they will need to improve their defense significantly. The top four teams in the East are all offensive juggernauts, and sloppy defense will mean an early playoff exit. Thankfully for Celtics fans, the team has some time to rally the squad for a playoff run.