BOSTON – If you look around the NBA, the impact that guards have on team’s success is undeniable.
Golden State has talent out the wazoo at just about every position, but they are a shell of the title-winning club we’ve come to know without league MVP Stephen Curry in the lineup.
On a much smaller scale, the Boston Celtics have seen up close what can happen if you don’t do a good job of containing the opposing team’s backcourt.
That will be among the chief concerns today when they host the Brooklyn Nets.
This will be Boston’s third game against Brooklyn this season. The first two illustrate vividly just how important the Celtics’ defense against opposing guards can be when these two face each other.
In Boston’s 120-95 blowout win over Brooklyn on Nov. 20, the Celtics’ gave the Nets guards all kinds of problems.
Brooklyn’s primary backcourt players were Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jarrett Jack and Shane Larkin.
The trio combined for 34 points on 42.8 percent shooting, with 14 turnovers.
But two nights later, Brooklyn came away with a 111-101 win over the Celtics and the Nets backcourt trio was instrumental in the victory.
In that game, they combined for 38 points on 60 percent shooting (12-for-20) while combining to turn the ball over just five times.
And it’s not just the Nets, either.
The Los Angeles Lakers are still Kobe Bryant’s team, but their 112-104 win over Boston on Wednesday came about because of the dominance of the Los Angeles guards.
Jordan Clarkson, Lou Williams and D’Angelo Russell combined to score 59 of Los Angeles’ 112 points, shooting 58 percent (24-for-41) from the field. They also had eight assists among them with just four turnovers.
In both games, Boston had stretches in which they were solid defensively against opposing guards.
But there were far too many stretches when they simply didn’t do enough to instill their force, their will on their opponent and the result … a Celtics loss.
“We have to be ready,” said Isaiah Thomas. “They’re a really good team. Their record may not say so. They want to get as many wins as possible, just like us.”