I love how after 2 series the "experts" are finally giving the Celtics some credit for winning games rather than their opponents losing them. It's not the elbow and it's not the rust. It's the defense.
In the first round, it was the fact that Dwyane Wade didn't have a supporting cast. They couldn't win with just one guy. Wade was tired and the Heat simply weren't good enough with Wade having to do too much. The "Titos" just weren't enough help for Wade and that's why they lost.
Then on to the Cavs. Much money was spent to build a strong team around LeBron. They had a legend at center in Shaquille O'Neal. They had an all star point guard in Mo Williams. They brought in Antawn Jamison who was thought to be the missing piece to complement LBJ's scoring. They signed Anthony Parker for his scoring and defense. They were a deep team with Side Show Bob, Ilgauskas, Delonte, Moon and Hickson. They had the best record in the NBA. Every single "expert" picked the Cavs to beat the Celtics, and some of them even predicted a sweep.
Then the Cavs struggled and all we heard about was Le Elbow. LeBron was hurt and so he couldn't play well. With LeBron's injury, it was throwing the whole team off their game. And when the Celtics won the series in 6 games, we saw very few articles on how the Celtics won the series with their great play. Everyone was talking about how the Cavs lost the series because James wasn't at his best. Then, after the series, when LeBron's elbow was no longer a good enough excuse they come up with ridiculous rumors that Delonte was sleeping with LeBron's mom and that destroyed their chemistry. Anything but to admit that the Celtics actually won the series by playing swarming defense.
Now on to the Magic. Once again, we see most of the "experts" picking the Magic. They are too deep. They are too good. They are too deep. They are rested. They are younger. But in game 1, the Celtics methodically dismantled them and out played them for most of the game. Is it time for the experts to admit that the Celtics are playing well and that their defense is what is making these other teams look bad?
Adrian Wojnarowski has a great article on Yahoo that is worth reading. The Celtics defense has been ferocious. Here are just a couple lines from his article:
Now, the Celtics’ defensive rotations are crisp and precise. They beat the Cavs to loose balls and long rebounds, and they did it to the well-rested Magic, too. So much of assistant coach Tom Thibodeau’s defensive system is playing out perfectly for the Celtics, and this is hell for everyone left in these playoffs. From Kobe Bryant(notes) to LeBron James(notes) to Dwight Howard, this has been one of the league’s most lethal weapons these past two years. Now, the Big Three is back again, Rondo is a star and maybe most of all, these Celtics have restored a toughness and tenacity that they lost along the way.
Maybe, just maybe, the Cavs played poorly because they were being defended well. Maybe the King played poorly because the Celtics defense shut him down, not because of his phantom elbow injury. Maybe the Magic lost game 1 because the Celtics were defending them well, not just because they were rusty. Defense wins championships. If the Celtics continue to play tough, swarming, physical defense, the Celtics have a very good shot at bringing home Banner 18 this year.
Thanks Shawna! I always loved that line from the movie the Air up There where Kevin Bacon tells his team that defense is more important than breathing. I think he nailed it. LOL! I'm waiting for rumors of a Dwight Howard injury as an excuse for why the Celtics beat them. It couldn't be the Celtics play, now could it?