Boston Celtics: Is Their Defense an Unkillable Zombie?

Ethan Sherwood Strauss@SherwoodStraussNBA Lead WriterApril 2, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 11:  Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics warms up for the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on March 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 97-94.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Last night, Boston poured it on offensively in a way I certainly did not anticipate. But my fixation was still on that sterling defense. It's an inexorable zombie force that soldiers on, impervious to death or erosion.

Miami shot 34 percent as Kevin Garnett covered more ground than an orbiting planet. One particular third quarter instance comes to mind. KG guards Haslem at the top of the key, the pass goes to Norris Cole in the corner, the guard sprints towards the bucket, only to be stymied by who else?

Somehow, the old man still has it. 

After their thrashing of the Heat, the Celtics moved to No. 2 in defensive efficiency. In the KG era, they’ve been ranked top-two every year, except for the 2009-2010 season (No. 5). And they're currently doing it with three starters who trend above 34 years old. 

This begs the question: At what point are teams too old for great defense? Kevin Arnovitz did great work in showing us that basketball's best defensive lineup was comprised of middle-aged Mavericks. If Boston, despite struggling on offense, continues on doing this in perpetuity, it makes you wonder if the defensive and offensive side of the ball constitute different sports. 

It's almost unfortunate, in a way. Kevin Garnett has been great for years, despite being presumed dead and buried for most of them. His talent has been discounted because it now mostly applies to the unwatched aspect of basketball.

This goes for so many older players, who find value in the under-appreciated as they age. They're like our grandparents, giving us gems of advice and anecdotes that we fail to acknowledge because the music's just too loud.

Anyway, take some time to appreciate the Celtics while they're still around. Which could be forever.  


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