All preseason, the C's and coach Doc Rivers have said they will be the best defensive team in the league. They've preached hard work and busy hands on that side of the ball. A reputation as the chattiest defensive unit around has been built.
With a shutdown performance at Cleveland on Tuesday and a 92-59 whitewash of Charlotte, Boston has served early notice that they can back up their boasts.
"I thought it was terrific," Rivers said of his defense, which suffocated the Bobcats from the opening tip. "I thought it was great … the last two nights, I thought it has been absolutely wonderful."
Terrific. Great. Wonderful. That about sums it up. But a look at some of the numbers only reinforces how one-sided the win over Charlotte was.
The Bobcats missed 13 of their first 16 shots and had nine turnovers to that point. They failed to make a 3-pointer in 10 tries. Gerald Wallace led the team with 10 points, hitting a late free throw to be the lone player in double figures. Charlotte starters shot 25.5 percent from the floor and had five assists.
In the end, the Bobcats set a franchise low in scoring and became just the fourth Celtics opponent in the shot-clock era to fall short of 60 points.
Intimidation, a key component to the C's defensive game plan, was apparent throughout.
"We got a lot of guys scared to death, and that's tough," said Charlotte coach Larry Brown. "We talked before the game, you know, just don't turn the ball over early and just hang in. I think we had, like, eight turnovers in the first eight or nine minutes."
Rivers said his staff keeps track of deflections. At halftime, the coaches looked at the number and were amazed.
"We keep that number and it was … as high as you can possible get it at halftime," Rivers said.
The Bobcats finished with 18 turnovers, many on deflected passes.
Even though Rivers admitted there is work to be done on the offensive side of the ball, his players know that simply outscoring an opponent offers less satisfaction.
"Shutting people down," Kevin Garnett said when asked what the team gets the most pleasure in doing. "We work so hard in practice. Man, y'all have no idea what our drills are like. … Every day, it's the same thing, same repetitive stuff, if not more.
"You know, when you shut a team down, that's hard work and effort."
It can't hurt to set the bar high, too.