Celtics defense becoming a concern

For the past five years or so. We've all been accustomed to some of the best defense played in league history. Now with a new coach and new players. The Celtics like everything else with this team, must find a defensive identity. For awhile the Celtics seemed on their way. They currently still have the best percentage when it comes to guarding the three ball. They sit on top when it comes to opponents three-point percentage. They allow a league best .302%

So where are the weaknesses on the defensive end?

Earlier this month, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said he wasn't sold on Boston's defense being as strong as some statistics like scoring defense, might indicate.

"But I think we've tried at times to be really together and defending the way that we need to," Stevens said. "And at other times we haven't been as effective as we need to. I don't think yet we've defended for a game, for 48 minutes."

The season began with defensive concerns because of the team's lack of bigs and a roster with too many two-guards.

And now that they are riding a three-game losing streak, those problems defensively are magnified.

Boston guards are allowing too much dribble-penetration which is leading to the Celtics' big men attempting to help.

That in turn has left Boston susceptible to easy points around the paint on put-backs, or giving up offensive rebounds which then allows their opponents a chance to reset and run another play.

That said, Boston still has the 10th-best scoring defense with opponents averaging 97.7 points per game.

However, that number has jumped to 101.3 points per game during the team's current three-game slide which ranks 19th in the league during that period of time.

The idea that Boston or any other NBA team will play great defense for 48 minutes is a pipe dream.

Every game is a 48-minute grind with defensive lulls and offensive runs a given for both teams.

But Boston's defense has to be better than it has been the last three games, if for no other reason than to bail out an offense that has been feast or famine all season.

For the season, Boston is averaging 94.2 points per game which ranks 24th in the league. That number has been even worse in the last three games with the Celtics scoring dropping to just 89 points per game which ranks 26th in the league during that span.

The Celtics have a few defensive guys on this roster. Bradley of course, and Gerald Wallace as two of them. Gerald ranks 12th in the NBA with 2.0 steals per game so far this season. Bradley is 34th with 1.55 steals per game. The slip in defensive intensity has cost the Celtics. They couldn't stop the Wolves by allowing them 106 points, and the night before the Celtics gave up 109 points to Portland. In Boston's four wins this season, the Celtics have averaged 104.8 points. During the seven losses Boston averaged a woeful 88.1 points.

The Celtics need transition baskets, and they haven't gotten many because of the poor defense as of late. The recent scores indicate that the Celtics have lost focus. The Celtics don't have a stopper, so their going to lose some games. The Celtics are lacking a voice on the defensive side of the ball. Nobody can replace KG, but someone needs to come in and lead this team on defense. Rondo is a great defensive player, but does he have the chops to lead this team on the defensive end. He can do it as a point guard, but as a defensive anchor that's not Rondo.

Rajon still needs to go back to playing some of the defense that earned him All-NBA defensive honors. His decline on defense has been well documented.

Follow Shawn on Twitter-@Celticstitletow

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