The Celtics will defend better. They pride themselves on defense and it has always been their identity. It will always be their identity as long as Kevin Garnett is running up and down that court. But with so many new faces, they have to integrate that defense better. Over the course of the year, they absolutely will get better and will likely finish in the top 3 in whatever team defense statistic you like. But it is a process.
The new guys have to learn all the rotations and also how to communicate with their running mates. There's a rhythm to it that only comes with sheer repetition and familiarity.
But defensive breakdowns — Led Zeppelin’s "Communication Breakdown" would have been a good theme song — will never be tolerated by those on this team who know better. "I think it started in the first half with transition defense," Rajon Rondo [stats] said. "We were trying to find our man instead of the closest man and that led to confusion, and also easy looks at the rim. We just have to do a better job of communicating. We have to talk defensively. We’ve been saying it all preseason, but (Miami) did what they had to do. "We pride ourselves on defense, but give them credit, they attacked and we gave them everything. We have to watch film and get a lot better."
To be fair, not every NBA team is as stacked offensively as the Miami Heat. The chances are far greater (in my mind) that the Celtics will hold a team under 80 points than to give up 100 points again in the near future. Again, the game one loss is going to be both a great teaching/learning exercise and a major motivator.
Year in, year out this team is top notch on defense. That will come. Hopefully the offense can keep up.