The Celtics defense and rebounding sag in Clutch Time
BarStoolSports' Dan Greenberg brought up a great point about a key reason for the Celtics less-than-expected record to date. The Celtics simply are letting down on defense at a critical juncture - the last five minutes of a tight game - Clutch Time. Their stellar defense sags in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. And I will add to that, so does Boston's rebounding.
The Celtics overall have the second-highest Defensive Rating in the NBA, but not in Clutch Time (per Dan Greenberg):
Overall, the Boston Celtics have the 2nd best Drtg in the NBA at 103.1. Pretty good right? Well that number jumps to 107 (12th) in the fourth quarter and a very, very bad 122.5 in “clutch” situations. That’s the 26th best defense in the NBA in those situations. Let me put this into perspective for you. Last season, the Celtics were among the worst in this area too, but their rating was 107. That’s a gigantic difference and a big reasons why the Celts are 2-2 in games decided by 3 points or less, and why whenever they are getting into tight spots against shitty teams, they are not coming through. Defensively, they’ve been pathetic.
The rebounding doesn't fare much better in Clutch Time. Overall, Boston is rated 18th in the League at Rebounding Percentage with a 49.9%. In the final five minutes of a close game, that drops to 23rd in the NBA at 44.9%. In close, end-of-game situations, they are simply not getting stops or fighting for rebounds.
Greenberg gives a detailed account of his thoughts on curing the malady with various line-ups, and the article is definitely worth reading in full. Defense and rebounding are based on solid effort. Brad Stevens is working on increasing effort and toughness in his troops. In the tweet below, Brad gives his thoughts on the next practice being solid and competitive.
Today was about looking at what we did well this trip while preparing to make that next step to get back to playing Celtics basketball. pic.twitter.com/7Yua9xvBX7