The Boston Celtics have been the class of their division for some time and have been mentioned as championship contenders for the past three years. This year is no different except for the bad taste of a game seven loss in the 2010 NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers.
There were issues throughout the roster; veteran players like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were slow to recover from injury. The self-described, “ticket-stub” Glen Davis, reverted back to his original moniker “Big Baby” by breaking his hand just before the 2009-10 season started.
The one thing however that ultimately doomed them was their on-again-off again relationship with consistent defensive tenacity.
It also seemed that the leg injuries that KG suffered affected his ability to defend and box out the opponent. Younger and fresher legs, like Rashard Lewis of the Orlando Magic beat him repeatedly to the baseline.
This season the team has made defense the focus and KG's Doberman like attitude has resurfaced in training camp. Something the Celtic staff has readily admitted was sorely lacking; as well as their over reliance on making offense the focal point of training camp last year.
This renewed adjustment could be attributed to the higher level of competition that has surfaced in the Eastern Conference. The recent overhaul of the Miami Heat roster has made defense a top priority; add Orlando with its man-child Dwight Howard in the mix and you get the picture.
Boston has the necessary tools to once again reclaim their title of top defense in the NBA. They have the top steals man in the league in Rajon Rondo and Garnett barking orders to his teammates when his thievery fails. You have arguably the top guard forward combination in defensive efficiency in KG and Rondo.
The Celtics hired Lawrence Frank in the off -season, a near clone to Tom Thibodeau when it comes to committing to the defensive end. Frank is almost guaranteed the head-chair because of his experience and he has Doc Rivers’ stamp of approval.
Throw in the hire of former Celtic Roy Rogers as big man coach and you can see Danny Ainge makes decisions based on team needs and not coaching popularity.
NBA experts are making the same arguments that they have always made in that the Celtics are a year older and a step slower and the other top teams are considerably younger. On the surface it seems like they are right; however take a look at the bench and you will see there will be very little drop-off in Lawrence Frank’s defense.
Delonte West will miss the first 10 games of the season, but Nate Robinson, Davis, Marquis Daniels and one of the O’Neal brothers will hold down the fort until his return.
No other NBA team will be able to approach defense with the rabid dog-like intensity that Boston will unleash on the NBA this season.