One of the big things that I've noticed with the Celtics this season as compared to last season has been their inability to contain dribble penetration. I watched the early ESPN game between the Magic and the Celtics and was really surprised how Orlando was able to penetrate the lane pretty much at will. Yes, the Celtics tried to rotate and help, but against a good team like the Magic, they either found their shooters, or Howard cleaned up the offensive rebound as a result. If you can't stop penetration, the rest of your defense simply breaks down. Here are some sequences from the first half,

Attention to Detail:

I just wanted to point out a couple of small things that make a big difference. There isn't anything strategic that the Celtics are doing wrong. They run the same defense they've always been running. But as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. The first one to point out is on the help defense forcing to the baseline. This is a very standard M2M defensive principle, force the dribbler to baseline help. However, this play only works if the help defender successfully cuts the dribbler off at the baseline, preventing him from making that pass along the baseline, and making him pivot and turn back,

Next point. I hate it when my players bail out on their check, and attempt the wrap around poke. One in ten, they will actually force the turnover. Nine in ten, it results in a bad play for us as a defense. There is no substitute for moving your feet, and keeping your check in front of you,


I guess it's important to point out that everything is relative. The Celtics are still the league's best in opponent FG% (42.9, they were at 41.9 at the end of last season). And I know that Kevin Garnett has been away for some time, and he was taking it slow tonight. Still, I think that with essentially the same core, the same coaching staff especially with the defensive-minded Tom Thibodeau, the Celtics should be better, and they will have to be during the playoffs or they could be bounced early.

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