Every game will teach Boston Celtics a little bit more about this team. On Friday night, the knowledge that was gleaned from the 97-85 loss was that the Philadelphia 76ers and the Celtics might not be as different as Boston teams were hoping. The 76ers seem more aware that their rebuilding process will require a complete bottoming out this season in order to get one more star to play with Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlans Noel when he returns next season.
A glance at the box score from the game shows very quickly why the Celtics lost. They give up 56 points in the paint. The Toronto Raptors did the same thing last Monday, outscoring the Celtics 52-34.
So, it is becoming apparent that defending the rim is going to be a problem this season. The Celtics defense was anchored by Keven Garnett. His communication and his intensity added more than his skill. He created an attitude that the Celtics are struggling to rediscover. Vitor Faverani, Jared Sullinger, and Kris Humphries will be the most likely candidates. Kelly Olynyk is still learning the ropes.
Going hand-in-hand with the points in the paint is the shooting percentage that the Celtics defense is allowing their opponent to shoot. The New York Knicks and Raptors both shot 52% and the Sixers shot 49%. That's a huge issue, especially when you compare it to the Celtics' FG percentage. They shot sub-40% against the Raptors and Sixers, but were better in the Knicks game when they shot 49% (however, they were down 23 points and then had a great 4th quarter).
Brad Stevens will need to find a way to combine players on the court that can defend the rim, while also playing the up-tempo game he is trying to instill. The Celtics are taking 83 shots per game.
The Celtics will get another chance on Saturday night against the New York Knicks. As the preseason continues, the Celtics will begin to put more and more pressure on themselves to get that first win before their opening night game against the Toronto Raptors.
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