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Celtics failing to execute defensive game plans on West Coast road trip

Over the last two games in LA, the Celtics have completely ignored their pre-established defensive game plans.

NBA: DEC 08 Celtics at Clippers Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Boston Celtics have not only been inconsistent, but based on the postgame comments after their last two losses, they’ve been simply unable to execute their game plan on defense. In their losses to the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers, they have done exactly the opposite of what their scouting reports are telling them

Starting with the most recent game, head coach Ime Udoka revealed that the team spoke about rookie Brandon Boston Jr. ahead of their matchup with the Clippers:

“[Brandon] Boston, we talked about, he scored 43 recently in the G-League and his minutes have went up, up, up. Felt like we were surprised by him and we specifically talked about him… That’s disappointing there.”

The 20-year-old rookie scored a career-high 27 points in a career-high 25:16 last night. He was getting whatever he wanted and even managed to hit a buzzer-beater heave to end the first half. Boston likely wasn’t at the top of the Celtics’ scouting report, but for Udoka to divulge that the team specifically talked about him is concerning.

NBA: DEC 08 Celtics at Clippers Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This was the second game in a row that the Celtics went against a part of their game plan, too. Just the other night against the Lakers, Udoka spilled the beans on another strategy that the C’s were unable to follow up on:

“We wanted to invite them to shoot jump shots and keep them out of the paint. Obviously, that didn’t work - 66 points in the paint. Not helping off of guys that we wanted to help off of. They have four pretty good isolation guys that we wanted to show crowds to. Didn’t do that well.”

As mentioned, the Lakers scored a ridiculous 66 points in the paint against the Celtics. It’s safe to assume that three of the isolation players Udoka was referring to were Los Angeles’ three main stars: LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis. Those three combined to score 42 points in the paint by themselves.

Boston is allowing 121.3 points per game in their last three, ranking 28th in the NBA over that stretch. They also have the third-worst defensive rating in that period of time. The Celtics’ defensive rating ranked fifth before their game against the Utah Jazz, and since then it has tanked all the way down to ninth.

While inconsistency is certainly hurting the Celtics’ ability to win games, a severe lack of defensive execution is also to blame. For a team whose identity is supposed to be on the defensive end, something is seriously wrong as of late. Not having Jaylen Brown definitely hurts, but that’s no excuse for the lackluster defense.

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