I was checking for news this morning and saw this headline on Hoopsworld: "The Knicks Looking To Emphasize Defense." Within the article, was this sentence, "Winning championships starts with defense." The article was all about how the signings this summer by the Knicks all lean toward the fact that they are working toward an emphasis on defense, which was an area where the team lacked sorely last year. It also said that the moves they have made gives them "one of the youngest, quickest and most defensively adept front courts in the league."
I have always been a big proponent of defense. I loved that movie with Kevin Bacon where he goes to Africa to recruit a player. My favorite movie line ever is where he is teaching the natives to play basketball and says, "Defense is more important than breathing." My son was Defensive Player of the Year every year he played high school basketball. He would have been in trouble if he had done anything less. I agree wholeheartedly that winning Championships begins with defense. The great teams of the past and the ones that won championships had great defensive stoppers on them and they played tough in your face defense. You can win a championship without superstars, as the Pistons recently proved, but you can't win one without playing tough defense.
I guess that is why Doc's statement last year bothered me so much. He stated that he stressed offense in practice because that is the hardest to pick up and they would develop the defense while practicing the offensive sets. He said, "After all, while half the team is practicing the offense, the other half is playing defense. This statement just really upset me (and still does, as you can tell). It shows that Doc doesn't realize the importance of defense and doesn't know how to coach it.
Danny Ainge talked a lot about the need for our defense to improve this year. He says that he and Doc are on the same page. If they are, is Danny as clueless about how to institute a team defense as Doc is? Danny talks a lot about our need to improve the defense, but what kind of free agents did he sign this year? He signed Pittsnogle, noted for his 3 point shot and his lack of playing defense. According to NBAdraft.net "Not a defensive presence, lacks great explosiveness to block shots." Danny also signed Allan Ray. Here is what NBAdraft.net says about Ray, "His lack of size and strength makes him a defensive liability on the next level ... Off the ball defense is just average, not good at anticipating passes for steals ." It seems that he talks defense and on one hand brings in a player like Rondo on the strength of his defense and then on the other hand he brings in players who are the exact opposite.
We have athletic players who are capable of playing great team defense. We have a couple of defensive stoppers in Rondo, and Tony Allen. We have other players who can play defense if they have a coach to teach them. Will Doc teach defense in practice? Will Doc encourage them to play defense? Will Doc actually put an emphasis on defense? The answers to those questions will determine how good this team can actually be.
Will Danny give Doc the ultimatum that either the team plays defense or he will get a coach who will? Danny and Doc both talk about wanting to run, but in order to run we need to rebound. You can't be a good rebounding team when you play small ball against a bigger team and that is what Doc seems to like to do. And Danny signs bigs who seem to have an aversion to rebounding - Raef, Blount, Pittsnogle... We are weak in the middle. Perk is going to continue to improve and will be a solid center. Ratliff will be good, if healthy, but that is a big if. We really can't depend on that. Jefferson still is a question mark as we don't know how his ankles will do and if he can ever get over the fear of re-injuring the ankle. Powe and Gomes have a knack for rebounding and will be solid, but are undersized for the 4. Jones shows promise but for some reason gets no playing time, even in the Summer League. He can rebound and play defense, but Doc would rather play bigs who don't rebound and shoot the three.
One bright spot that brings hope of change is the signing of Clifford Ray. He has done some great things with bigs in the past and I believe that he will really help here in Boston. In the Summer League, if you watched the games, you would have seen him yelling instructions on the sidelines and being very vocal. I believe that he may show Doc how to used the bigs under the basket instead of out past the arc.
The Knicks have addressed their needs and plan to stress defense... Hopefully the Celtics will do the same, but the burden rests on Doc to do so.
We absolutely need to stay on top of the Knicks. It'll be a sad day when a team GM'd by Isaiah Thomas outplays a Danny Ainge team, considering how bad Isaiah has been as GM so far.
Ainge, and possibly Rivers, employ the theory of 60% offense and 40% defense. I think this concept can work if you have a terrific offensive team that can put up 110 ppg and blow out teams that way. The Mavs of the past and the Suns use this tactic but haven't been as successful as they should be. But they are more like 75% offense and 25% defense. A 60-40 ratio can work, but there has to be adequate defense to be played.
Of course, as you have noted, if you build a team from scratch and make defense a priority, you can actually construct a championship team with no superstars, as long as every player on the team is defensive minded. A well oiled defensive team with not a lot of offensive firepower can also be a successful combination, but you will need a team full of defensive players.
For our team, I think we are more designed to be a 60 - 40 team. We have a lot of offensive firepower, and just enough young defensive potential to be a solid defensive team. Maybe not a strong defensive team, but a solid one. And I think this can work. But Rivers certainly needs to get our team thinking defense a lot more, because right now, we are not a 60-40 team. Its about 80-20.
Defense needs to be a big time focus this upcoming season.
It is very depressing thinking of the Knicks pressing and playing tough defense and surpassing the Celtics... I think if Doc doesn't put more emphasis on defense he may be gone after the all star game...
No doubt about that. If the team isn't playing defense, Doc is to blame. He has to get the players playing defense, just as much as he needs to make the players run hard throughout the entire game. He's the coach and what he says has to be taken as law.