Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens isn’t one for showing a plethora of emotions, keeping to a stoic, even-keeled manner seemingly at all times.
But even Stevens, who is entering his 7th year at the helm of the C’s, couldn’t help but get excited over the potential of his team’s defense with a new season approaching.
Leading the defensive charge will undoubtedly be Marcus Smart, a 2018-19 NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, who routinely harasses opposing guards and can make an impact on the defensive end from any position despite is 6-foot-4 frame.
The defensive versatility of the Celtics is probably what fascinates Stevens the most as he tries to find a way to shut down high-volume scorers and high-powered offenses. Jaylen Brown, an adept defender in his own right, along with Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum all possesses nearly the same height and length to guard multiple positions.
Throw in rookies Grant Williams and Romeo Langford, and the Celtics have the ability to switch successfully on defense while not losing much, if any in the one-on-one matchups.
“We do have some lineups especially that we’ll be able to go to … that could be awfully good defensively,” said Stevens, as the Celtics ranked sixth in the NBA in defensive rating last season.
"I like this team, I like their work ethic"— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) September 30, 2019
Brad Stevens is looking forward to getting this season started pic.twitter.com/cVit516w3K
The biggest question mark surrounding the Celtics defense comes in the form of rim protection. With Al Horford joining the Philadelphia 76ers, the C’s lack big-men depth and will rely on offseason acquisition Enes Kanter – not known for any type of stout defending – Daniel Theis, and Robert Williams III to man the paint. If 7-foot-7 Tacko Fall ends up making the team, he could provide a mammoth interior presence.
Robert Williams, who played in 32 games as a rookie last season, has shown flashes of being a dominant shot blocker and looks to get a significant boost in minutes in his second year with the C’s. Williams blocked 40 shots last season, including recording a 5-block performance in just 16 minutes against the Atlanta Hawks.
And as Stevens tinkers with the lineups, there’s the potential he’ll rely on the C’s playing a more defensive brand of basketball to win games.
“This team will have to play a little bit differently on both sides of the ball than we have,” Stevens said.