First, the brilliant (and OG) Celtics Blog posted a composite of several Boston preseason game stories suggesting the same thing — the usually strong Celtics pick-and-roll defense has not been good this preseason.
Brian Scalabrine has come right out and said it on Comcast SportsNet New England after the Sixers used it to carve up the Celtics Monday night. But he’s not terribly worried about it. Yet.
“When you watched the 76ers tonight they were getting to the middle of the floor almost on every pick and roll. A lot of that has to do with the lack of practice and during this time they’re going to be able to work through that,” Scalabrine said.
Last season the Celtics were the best in the league at shutting down the ball handler in the pick-and-roll — he shot only 35.8 percent and scored just .71 points per possession. The roll man did a little better — shot 47.3 percent and scored .94 points per possession — but that was still good enough for 7th best in the league. (Stats via SynergySports.)
It was nothing like that in recent games, particularly on Monday night against Philly. The ball handler has been able to come off the pick and get into the lane, not be shut off. And when the ball handler does that to any defense things break down.
One key thing in Boston’s favor — Kevin Garnett didn’t play Monday. He is the anchor of their defense, and he is the guy that pushes himself and teammates. But he’s not going to play 48 minutes a game for 82 games either — Boston has to be better when he is not on the court.
As always with the Celtics, the picture isn’t about what the Sixers can do in mid October, it’s about the big picture. Meaning the start of the season and the bigger goals beyond that.
“But Doc talked about Miami — ‘This is our first game, this is what we’re preparing for’ — well, Miami has two very good pick-and-roll players and you’re going to see 70 of those a night,” Scalabrine said. “So the Celtics need to kind of sure up their pick-and-roll coverage and when they do that — and they’ll have that little gap before that first Miami game — look for them to tighten up the defense a little bit more.”
Boston opens the season against the Heat in Miami.