Celtics expect to see an improvement in perimeter defense against Charlotte


Celtics expect to see an improvement in perimeter defense against Charlotte

Brad Stevens had plenty of material to work with when it came to identifying areas in need of improvement following Thursday’s loss at Chicago.

Chief among the problematic areas was the Celtics’ defense -- or rather lack of defense -- when it came to contesting 3-pointers.

Chicago was 11-for-25 on 3s, an unusually efficient night for a Bulls team that feature a trio of stars (Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo) who have historically struggled from deep.

“There will be times when you want to go under a screen or whatever the case may be,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “But more often than not, we’re better when we’re up (close defensively).”

Stevens acknowledged his defenders gave the Bulls too much air space, something not likely to happen tonight when Boston takes on the Charlotte Hornets in their home opener this season.

After two games, the Hornets (2-0) are 16th in 3-point attempts (22.5) per game while shooting 31.1 percent which ranks 18th in the league.

The 3-point shot is not necessarily a major part of what the Hornets have done thus far to be successful.

But to avoid a potential repeat of Thursday night in Chicago, look for the Celtics to be more physical and provide a lot less breathing room to the Hornets on the perimeter.

Stevens identified the Celtics’ 3-point defense as being an area his team needs to be better at tonight.

 “We played too far back against Chicago,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game. “We have to be better defending the three-point line than we were Thursday night.”

One of Charlotte’s strengths is their defense which is fueled in part by having lots of length at seemingly every position.

“They’re not only long but very skilled and really a very quick team,” Stevens said. “It’ll be a heck of a challenge for us.”

Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

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Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas back in green? Maybe there's a chance after all.

The former Celtics guard, now with the Lakers, started a Q&A session on Twitter and was asked whether he'd consider returning to Boston this offseason. This was his answer...

That's not a no.

Thomas has had a rough go of it since leaving the Celtics. His brief tenure in Cleveland didn't go according to plan, and things haven't gotten a whole lot better out in L.A. The 29-year-old is averaging 15.3 points per game just a year after averaging 28.9 with Boston.

Let the speculation begin.


Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Al Horford understands that there’s plenty of blame pie to go around following Boston’s 108-89 loss to New Orleans. 

Considering how Pelicans stud Anthony Davis dominated the game on so many levels Sunday night, Horford was quick to acknowledge his role in the loss. 

“[Davis] was able to get behind our defense a lot,” Horford told reporters after the loss. “Some mistakes on my end; gotta give him credit. He dominated tonight. I’ll definitely take the blame for that.”

Davis finished with a double-double of 34 points and 11 rebounds, a total that would have been higher if not for the game being so lopsided which allowed Davis to head to the bench early in the fourth. 

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And Horford’s struggles defensively were just as problematic on offense as the five-time All-Star tallied just six points on 3-for-11 shooting to go with four rebounds and three assists. 

Boston has been a team whose collective sums have fueled their success. 

But Horford understands he has to be a high impact performer, a job that’s even more vital when key starters like Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) and Jaylen Brown (concussion) are out as well as top reserves Marcus Smart (right thumb) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus). 

And by Horford’s own admission, he just didn’t bring it on Sunday at a level to give him and the Celtics a legit shot at winning the game.

“Defensively we had too many breakdowns,” Horford said. “And the game got away from us in the second half. So there’s no excuses. I didn’t give us a chance, either; missing a lot of looks offensively. I just need to be better.”

And he’ll have to be if Boston (47-23) is to get back on track with a win on Tuesday against a talented Oklahoma City squad led by Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. 

At full strength, the Thunder would be a significant challenge for the Celtics. 

But having a roster with a number of key players out with injuries, it becomes even more imperative for Boston’s top players to elevate their play. 

And as you scan this Celtics roster and examine those who are healthy enough to play, it’s clear that Horford more than any other Boston player, has to find a way to become more impactful.

Certainly, more points and rebounds would help. 

But as we’ve seen time and time again with Horford, often his greatest contributions to winning games don’t necessarily show up in the final box score. 

That being said, a six-point, four-rebound game doesn’t cut it. 

Horford has to be better, something he knows better than anyone. 

“I’ll definitely look at the film and see how I can be better individually,” Horford said. “The good thing about the NBA, is we have a chance to play on Tuesday. Hopefully we’ll learn from this game and be ready to go Tuesday at home.”