Boston Celtics basketball is defensive basketball.
At least, the variation of it that was displayed day in and day out before the NBA had to postpone its season due to COVID-19 concerns.
Prior the pandemic pause, the Celtics had the fourth-best defensive rating in the league, allowing just 106.2 points per 100 possessions and earning a 17-3 record when their defensive rating was 102 or lower in a game.
And all that with a relatively small lineup and not a ton of depth at the center position.
But since Boston arrived in the NBA bubble, they’ve been exposed for that weakness trying to contain other bigs low in the post. And quite frankly, it’s become one of the biggest questions around the Celtics’ chances this season.
Because as it stands now, this effort won’t fly.
As pointed out by The Athletic’s Jay King in a recent piece, the Celtics defense is ranked 21st of the 22 teams playing out the season in Orlando.
“The Celtics have given up 42 3-point attempts per game in the bubble, which would be the most in the league over the full season,” King broke it down with stats. “They have surrendered more 3-point makes per game in Orlando than every team except the Bucks and Mavericks. The Celtics rank in the bottom half of the bubble teams in opponent effective field goal percentage (18th), opponent free throw attempt rate (17th), opponent turnover percentage (15th) and opponent offensive rebound percentage (14th). They have been hurt inside and hurt outside.”
The Celtics return to action for the second game of a back-to-back Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET.