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Commentary

Updated: October 9, 2014, 10:26 PM ET


By
Chris Forsberg
| ESPNBoston.com


Back in late August, Avery Bradley suggested that the Boston Celtics had potential to be a top-10 defense in the upcoming season. The notion was met with expected skepticism — or laughed off completely — by pundits who were quick to note the team’s defensive regression to close out the 2013-14 campaign.

Boston did little to address its need for a rim protector this offseason and, still in rebuilding mode, it seemed unlikely that these Celtics would be among the defensive elite.

But two games into the exhibition season, it’s worth revisiting Bradley’s proclamation. Yes, it’s dangerous to read too much into a couple preseason tilts — particularly against a couple Atlantic Division opponents — but Boston’s increased aggression on the defensive end does make you wonder if the Celtics have a better shot than most gave them at shimmying up into the top third of the league.

It’s easy to forget, but before the All-Star break last season, the Celtics ranked 14th in defensive rating while allowing 103.2 points per 100 possessions through the first 54 games. Celtics first-year coach Brad Stevens huddled his team in Phoenix coming out of the February break and challenged them to make ascending to the top 10 a primary goal, only to watch the wheels come off a bit as Boston stumbled to the finish line while ranking 24th in the league with a defensive rating of 109 over the final 28 games.

The Celtics completed the 2013-14 campaign ranked 20th overall with a defensive rating of 105.2. Even still, getting into the top 10 isn’t all that daunting of a prospect. Boston was essentially one defended 3-pointer away from the top 10, sitting …read more