Celtics defense thriving early

The NBA season is officially in full swing, giving us basketball addicts our annual fix. After the most entertaining and landscape-altering offseason in NBA history, there were many questions on fans' minds that are getting answered. Not only are the current NBA standings surprising (the Memphis Grizzlies currently having the best record in the league), some teams are also shocking viewers with the style of play.

One team that is defying all sorts of expectations is, of course, the Boston Celtics. After an offseason in which we lost our two best defenders in Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley, it was expected that the C's would take a huge step back in terms of their defense. Most people, including myself, expected an explosive offense that made up for a subpar defense.

Then, all-star forward Gordon Hayward went down with his horrendous leg injury. This devastating loss quickly changed the entire team. In an instant, the Celtics' offense became severely handicapped without him. Without his offensive production, I expected Boston to struggle. The large collection of rookies and young players on the roster make for a team that can easily find problems with creating offense.

My fears are definitely somewhat realized. The offense of the C's certainly is not as threatening as it would be with Gordon. That being said, the team in green is impressing and outperforming on the other side of the floor. Defensively, Boston has proven to be very stingy in giving up points. They are currently ranked second in defensive efficiency, and that's without Marcus Morris playing a single minute, and Marcus Smart missing a few games already as well.

A huge amount of credit must be given to the rookies/youngsters on the team for their significant contributions on the less glamorous end of the floor. The development of both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown has been monumental in the Celtics' newly discovered elite defense. Both players have the length and athleticism to guard their respective positions, and the basketball IQ to help their teammates when necessary.

Other young players that are certainly impressing defensively include rookies Semi Ojeleye, Daniel Theis, and third-year player Terry Rozier. The defensive development of the young players on the C's is not only crucial of this season, but for the future of Boston, as well.

Then there's the standard defensive studs that were expected to do wonderful for the Celtics, like Al Horford, Marcus Smart, and newly-acquired Aron Baynes. The combination of young, tenacious defenders and the wise, careful defense of the veterans makes for a deadly match-up for every team in the league. Boston is currently on a four game streak in which the opposing team has scored less than 100 points.

All-in-all, the defensive renaissance of the Celtics has been crucial to their early-season success. After the Hayward injury, it appeared as though the Cs were dead in the water. Instead, Brad Stevens has found a way to adapt to the situation by having his players play lockdown defense. It is certainly early in the season, so it's important not to jump the gun on how elite this defense truly is.

That being said, if this keeps up, not only will Boston find success this season because of the defense, they will also be an absolute powerhouse when Hayward comes back and adds more offensive firepower. What an exciting time to be a fan in Boston.

Photo: Tony Dejak/AP Photo