There is a moment when we look around, can’t find our familiar faces, and we are overcome with emotion.
That very instant of realization that we are lost is followed by either extreme panic or detective mode. We either become frozen from fear or look to find our way. The cool, calm, and collected approach is always the way to go.
In the last couple of weeks, some fans have been lost because they felt the Celtics were lost. We looked slow. We looked out of sync. We looked old.
So many of you that are reading this are shaking your head saying, “No, I didn’t think that! I knew it would be okay!”
But don’t fool yourself. Lots of people were panicking. Lots of people were convinced the Celtics had lost their way.
But you know who wasn’t panicking? The Celtics. You know who knew the Celtics weren’t lost? The Celtics.
In the last five games, the Celtics have been playing pretty well. The Celtics didn’t go into extreme panic when dropping a few games in a short week and a half span; they went into detective mode.
There were comments from Danny. There were comments from Doc. Both gentlemen made it publicly clear that the players needed to clean up their act. They were the only ones that could fix the inconsistencies in their play.
The players figured out what they were missing: they returned to playing within their means and rediscovered their identity.
The current Celtics team is built on team defense. We win by playing defense. We have weak-side helpers that force opponents into tough shots. We have weak-side helpers to help the helpers force opponents into difficult situations. We rotate.
We share the defensive load. Our perimeter defenders are just as important as the interior ones. Two years ago, the team talked about the “no lay-up” philosophy.
If a team kills us, it is because they are making tough, long-range, low-percentage shots, then so be it. The Celts weren’t going to give up any bunnies.
But this year, in games that we have lost and in close games that we have won, our defensive rotations were egregiously slow.
Recently, though, we have been rotating. From my couch and section 322, we are playing with a fiery intensity. We aren’t giving up when players get by. Instead, we are fouling them, sending them a message, and forcing them to earn their points. We aren’t taking defensive possessions off.
We are playing hard on defense to get the ball back to the other side of court. We are sliding. We are talking. We are rotating. We look alive. Thank goodness, we look alive.
When we played Phoenix (and lost), Indiana (and lost), and Orlando (and lost), we played to their game. We accommodated and adapted to their style. We are not a flat-out uptempo team. We are a team that can have up-tempo possessions, but all fast pace / max out on shot attempts doesn’t play into our strength.
Quality, not quantity. Our strength is in our half-court sets. It's not always the traditional half-court set: we can push and set up quickly because our PG is the damn near fastest thing on earth besides U-Bolt.
We have bigs who can run. We have swingmen who know where to set up on the wing and when to move.
When Rondo is aggressive and getting to the hoop, shots open up. When players are making cuts, shots open up.
When we are mixing up the tempo by pushing the ball up the court and settling into our offense, shots open up. When it comes down to it, though, when we move the ball, we get good looks.
Our starting five are all competent passers. The unselfish mentality makes passing even easier. We have a pure point guard that looks to create and has incredible court vision.
We have one of the best passing power forwards in the history of the game. We have a small forward that can do anything he wants whenever he wants.
If we make our defensive stops first and just move the ball on offense, this team will be unstoppable. We are too deep, to cohesive, and too good to lose if we play the way we play.
It’s actually pretty simple: our defense breaks down other teams’ offenses and our offense breaks down other teams’ defenses. In the last few games, we’ve been doin' it and doin' it and doin' it well.