Despite what might be called a “defensive slump” in February, four Boston Celtics crowd the NBA’s list of top-10 defenders.
Aron Baynes slipped to number two among all players for the NBA’s top ranking, but trails behind Dejounte Murray of the Spurs by only 0.2 points. Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, and Jaylen Brown continued to box their way into the Top 10.
Kyrie Irving summed up the Celtic post-London bout with adversity well, and in a Celticesque way after another close-but-no-cigar game against the Houston Rockets. One reporter noted the team appears to be “right there” with the league’s best after down-to-the-wire losses to Golden State and Houston.
“Right there isn’t good enough,” Irving smiled. A very Celtics-esque answer for the team’s #BannersAreFlat leader.
The good news is, you can always play good defense. It’s not just a make-or-miss league (Man, that cliche is awful.) It’s also a get-a-hand-up-or-not, get-a-steal-or-not, and get-the-loose-ball league. (See for example Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers‘s comments on Paul Pierce’s greatest play… a jump-loose-ball recovery against LeBron James.)
The offensive improvement of Smart and Rozier continues. The Boston Celtics bench (cc: Daniel Theis, Greg Monroe) is rising.
In short, the Celtics still have a shot at playing teams like the Rockets or Warriors again this year.
Yes, we said this year. This young team isn’t there… yet. But it’s close.