There’s no question that the 2020 NBA season has been full of uncertainty. Boston Celtics fans, for the most part, were confident once we entered the bubble, knowing they secured the third seed in the playoffs. Now, Boston Celtics fans are going to sit on the edge of their seats until their last basket hits the backboard.
During Thursday’s game against the Toronto Raptors, Boston’s inconsistency became clear; we may not make it past this series. Boston’s defense, while still being ranked the fourth best in the league, does not measure up against Toronto’s defense. Daniel Theis and Williams showed their defensive strengths in Game 3, but the entire team fell short in the last .5 seconds of the game. It was a simple task: make sure Toronto got around Boston’s best players. Yet, Raptors’ OG Anunoby sunk a three pointer with less than a second on the clock, and Jaylen Brown high in the air. Brad Stevens even pulled rookie Tacko Fall from the bench to block the Raptors’ pass into gameplay.
It was not enough.
So what will be enough?
The Celtics like to stay steady when they feel comfortable during a game. They favor hesitation with passing the ball, especially in the face of Toronto’s defense. They need to read the court better, pass the ball with confidence more often.
Most of all, they need to play defense better. The Celtics’ defense is minute compared to the Raptors’ in the high stress last couple minutes. While Daniel Theis continuously jumps, swats, and covers his opponents well, the rest of the team needs to catch up. Marcus Smart is the heart of the defense, and the team cannot depend on only him. Smart is a small, but strong player. He knows that waiting for a hole to open up is better than to rush, even when time is the most critical element. He is quick, he’s agile, and he is amazing at the “sleight of hand”.
Now, the Boston Celtics sit 2-1 in their conference semifinals with a 104-103 loss. They play against the Toronto Raptors on September 5th at 6:30 EST on TNT.