The Celtics retooled this summer by adding a handful of active, versatile defensive players. How will it help them this coming season?
There’s an annual ritual that occurs every summer in the NBA, like clockwork – the moment the final buzzer sounds on the Finals and a winner has been crowned, all 29 other teams in the NBA begin positioning themselves to emulate the new champion. Or, at the very least, they pay a little lip service to the idea of doing so.It’s been going on for a while now. When the Celtics won the title in 2008, every team in the league was racing to tell their fanbases about their vision for the future – one built, no doubt, around veteran leadership, teamwork and defense. When the Heat finally broke through and won the Finals in 2012, then again in ’13, everyone wanted to imitate Erik Spoelstra’s offense and build a team that could pace, space and hit open jump shots. When the Spurs dethroned Miami in 2014, the words “play like the Spurs” were the league’s new favorite mantra, and they were applied to everything from ball movement to managing players’ minutes to the way team personnel handled the media. It was an epidemic. No one could be Spurs-like enough.Now, in 2015, the new champions hail from Golden State, and that means everyone in the league is searching frantically for a way to play like the Warriors. When it comes to the current champs, there are certain things you can easily emulate and certain others you can’t. As for the latter: Part of the Warriors’ identity is their two leading scorers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who together constitute quite possibly the best-shooting backcourt in the history of the game. Talented players like that don’t just grow on trees. You can’t imitate Golden State simply by scooping up a couple of shooters in free agency. The Warriors’ guys are next-level.However, it’s worth noting that it was Golden State’s defense, moreso than the offense, that was truly the team’s calling card. Forget not that the Warriors ranked first in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions, with only 101.4; in points scored, they finished the season second behind the Clippers at 111.6 (and for much of the year they trailed Dallas as well, though the Mavs slipped at the end of the year while integrating a certain new point guard who shall remain …Read More