Celtics coach Doc Rivers indicated Monday that the reason for his team's recent struggles is a combination of small things at both ends of the court. But as the Celtics set about the process of fixing what ails them, the primary focus is obvious: defense.
"One of the things we made clear is that you'll be playing [based] on your defense," Rivers said. "If we made anything clear [Monday], it's that you can make 10 [3-pointers] in a row, but if you're not getting stops, you're going to come sit next to me. That's the way it has to be. We have to get back to thinking of ourselves as a defensive team."
The irony is that the Celtics are a defensive team, the best in the league, in fact. Boston has held opponents to an NBA-best 93.7 points per game this season.
But recently a disturbing pattern of allowing the opposition one big offensive quarter has emerged, most notably when the Magic outscored Boston 36-11 in the third quarter of Orlando's 96-89 victory Sunday at the TD Garden.
In each of their previous four games, the Celtics gave up a 28-point quarter or worse, including a 30-point second quarter against the Nets, a 28-point fourth quarter against the Heat, a 31-point second quarter against the Wizards and a 30-point first quarter against the Lakers.
The statistics suggest the Celtics' opponents average only 23.4 points per quarter, so to see teams putting up 36 points in a single frame is simply unacceptable to Rivers.
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