Over the past 6 games, the Celtics have dramatically improved their defense. It hasn't translated into too many wins yet (they are just 3-3 in that stretch) but you can see the improvements. Why have they gotten better? In part because they've simplified the defense.
But it appears that improvement is coming, that the players have taken to the defensive adjustments, with an emphasis on their play against the pick and roll. "We’re just going with one coverage that we all know," guard Jason Terry said. "We’re trying to get good at that one coverage. Once we perfect that, then we can probably move on. But early on we were just trying to do too much. We’ve got too many new faces."
It could be, for instance, that all of the new additions to this lineup are starting to master their defensive rotations — a task whose difficulty may be exaggerated. Jason Terry has said, minus the terminology, it’s the same system he played in Dallas, which makes its annual visit to the Garden tomorrow night, albeit without Dirk Nowitzki. Jared Sullinger, a rookie, shrugged about the learning curve when he said, "They manage to dumb it down for you."
You could say that perhaps the coaching staff needs to take some blame for the early season struggles. They could have just kept things simple from the start and worked additional wrinkles in over time. But the temptation with a core that returns year after year is to keep going with what worked the previous year and add to it.
So hopefully the simplified scheme manages to help get the Celtics back on the right track. Opponents will surely "get" what they are doing and make adjustments, but the game is all about execution. Besides, by the time the playoffs roll around, they'll have added those wrinkles and will have specific game plans for each opponent worked in.
Here's hoping that the defense that we all know and love has started to return to Boston. Just keep it simple - for now.