Celtics Lack of Pick-and-Roll Defense Cause for Concern

 The Boston Celtics have played four preseason games winning one against a non-NBA team. If this was the regular season, there would be no joy in Celtics-ville.   

It first reared its ugly-head against the Knicks in Hartford, Connecticut; Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton bludgeoned the Celtics time and time again. 

Even second stringers’ Chris Copeland and Pablo Prigioni found success.

Last night's game in Philly was no different than Saturday’s lack of pick-and-roll defensive rotation.  Philadelphia coach, Doug Collins took advantage by making the pick-and-roll the core of his offensive sets.  

Boston’s guards either got caught over-playing the ball-side or failed to recover after showing on the pick.  As a result, KG’s nemesis Lavoi Allen and Spencer Hawes feasted on either open 
jumpers or a clear roll to the basket.

The only defensive play to get excited about, happened against the Knicks, when Paul Pierce blocked Carmelo Anthony’s attempted layup.  Other than that, defense has not been the calling card of a team that prides itself on its defensive prowess.

The 2011-12 team had plenty of defensive weapons, but went through too many offensive droughts to take them over the hump. Players like Marquis Daniels, the “flying-Frenchman,” Mickael Pietrus and Greg Steimsma provided the supply and demand defense.

When it came to scoring Pietrus was grounded, Daniels was never able to produce the halcyon play he demonstrated in Indiana and Dallas and Steimsma wasn’t going to get the ball anyway.

Celtic management has corrected their offensive deficiencies, but seemed to have introduced a chink in the team’s defensive armor. Courtney Lee is not a great individual defender, he reaches instead of moving his feet and has not made any strides in even fixing his defensive tick.

Jason Terry showed his age as undrafted 76er rookie; Maalik Wayns blew by him for dump downs and layups.  Jeff Green has also shown a lack of proper footwork when closing out on an opponent on the perimeter.  Green may be able to correct this problem; but Terry’s age and Lee’s inability to move his feet maybe the bigger issue.

Avery Bradley has no competition in that regard and will be a starter as soon as he is able to play.

Opening night, the Miami Heat will do just what the Knicks and Philly were so successful at in the preseason.  LeBron James and Dwayne Wade will feed the Celtics a steady diet of pick-and-roll offense; and the former NO. 20 will have a stellar debut as the new NO. 34 if Boston continues on this path.

However, if Heat coach, Eric Spoelstra chooses to go that route, the Heat will surely lose. In spite of Spoelstra’s newly minted championship tag, he will fall into Doc Rivers’ trap of preparation.  

There are growing pains in establishing a defensive brand with Boston’s new additions and Doc will gladly go through them in the preseason to get his players accustomed to his defensive schemes.  At this time of year, most NBA teams run new sets with their marginal players.  

Rivers employs offensive and defensive sets which familiarizes his team with the basic concepts that they can read and react to on the fly.  This isn't a time to panic, but a time to recognize, that preseason is about preparation and Doc Rivers will always have his team prepared and in the conversation for the second season.