Here’s the thing about having a top-ranked defense.
In order to be that good, you have to bring it night-in and night-out.
For all that went wrong for the Boston Celtics in their 111-101 loss at Brooklyn on Sunday, it was the Green Team’s defense that stood out … and not in a good way.
“They did a great job of attacking us. Let’s put it that way,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “We were not in their vicinity sometimes.”
The Nets (3-12) shot 50.6 percent from the field, and hammered the Celtics inside the paint by scoring 48 points compared to Boston’s 32.
“They definitely played harder than us,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas who had 27 points. “They deserved to win.”
Boston managed to get back in the game, and were within four points early in the fourth quarter.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens went with a zone defense for long stretches that contributed to Boston making it a game after falling behind by as many as 22 points.
It was a welcomed stretch for a Boston team that ranks among the league’s best defensively.
“I appreciate what people say about our defense, but you have to defend,” Stevens said. “It’s all a moot point if you don’t do it every single night. What we are normally, you have to be that on that given night.”
As far as Boston’s zone defense, Stevens said it “provided a good curve ball for a while. But then they figured it out, used their height and used their size and pounded us on the baseline a little bit. But hey, I don’t want to get to the point where we have to throw curve balls. I think it’s better if we can just play the way we want to play. We were down and we had to do something.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Sunday’s game between Boston and Brooklyn.
From the opening dunk, Lopez was a force in this game. He finished with a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds. Lopez was particularly effective in scoring against Boston’s zone defense.
Bradley was back in the starting lineup for an injured Marcus Smart (bone bruise, left knee), and didn’t waste too much time getting comfortable. He had a season-high 27 points for the Celtics.
While Thomas’ 27 points were strong, he too never seemed to get into any kind of flow or rhythm for Boston.
One of the more under-rated guards in the NBA, Jack was Brooklyn’s go-to guy in the closing minutes. And to his credit, Jack delivered more often than not. He finished with 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting.
His quickness gave Boston’s big men problems all game. He finished with a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds.
He looked a lot more like the perennial all-star on Sunday, scoring 17 points to go with four rebounds and four assists.
It’s becoming increasingly more difficult for Boston to keep Sullinger out of the lineup. The 6-foot-9 forward had yet another near double-double, scoring nine points to go with 10 rebounds.
It has been a while since Lee had a rough night, but Sunday’s play certainly qualified. He missed all three of his shots from the field and Lee had a plus/minus of -10 which was the worst plus/minus among Boston’s bench players.