NEW ORLEANS The Boston Celtics don't look like the Boston Celtics we've come to know in recent years.
And it's not just because Wednesday's 97-78 loss at New Orleans keeps them winless this season.
The Celtics are a team that takes pride in their defense. But in their three games thus far this season, the Celtics defense has been defenseless against every team it has faced thus far.
Big men having their way around the basket. Guards getting to whatever spot on the floor they want to, when they want to. The Hornets gave the C's a little bit of both on Wednesday.Guards getting to whatever spot on the floor they want to, when they want to.
"We have to be better defensively," said Kevin Garnett. "We're a defensive team."
They have been in recent years. But this is a different season, a different Celtics team. And so far, it's one that can't defend anywhere close to the level Celtics Nation is used to.
One of the issues the Celtics have to come to grips with is that their defense, in a word, has sucked so far this season.
"Our team is talented enough," said backup guard Keyon Dooling. "We have to understand that our defense has been horrible for a team that hangs its hat on defense. We haven't been doing that. We have to embrace that and get better."
Just about any good defensive team has defenders who are good at disrupting the opposing team's ball-handler.
Although Rajon Rondo has been an all-NBA defensive team member, you wouldn't have known it by the way Jarrett Jack routinely beat him off the dribble in Wednesday night's loss to New Orleans.
Jack, playing in his first game of the season, had 21 points, nine assists and four rebounds.
"He killed us on pick and rolls," Rondo said.
Jack's dribble penetration seemed to open things up even more so for the New Orleans big men who were instrumental in the Hornets having a 46-24 advantage in points in the paint.
"Their guards beat us off the dribble most of the night," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "They lived in the paint. And in defense of the bigs, they were rotating. If they didn't get the block or the charge, their guy got the rebound so our crack-backs were terrible.We have to control the ball. We have to stop fouling. We had so many fouls in the first half; some of the silly reaching our guards did. It kept putting the bigs in a bad position."
The Celtics also have had their own set of issues offensively, which is only complicated by all the new faces still figuring out how to play well with and off, each other.
And when you throw in the fact that the C's are still considered a quality conquest if beaten, well it only stands to reason that they will be challenged by just about every opponent they face.
"Right now, we're getting everybody's best shot," Rondo said. "That's just part of the game; no excuses. We'll get it together, sooner than later."