Boston Celtics: 3 thoughts on a gritty win over the Miami Heat

Aaron Nesmith #26 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Aaron Nesmith #26 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Boston Celtics
Robert Williams III #44 of the Boston Celtics (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Boston Celtics thought No. 2: Defensive effort finally shows up

For much of last season, the Celtics struggled on the defensive side of the ball. Udoka made it clear he wanted to improve the team’s defensive efforts from last season, but early on in the season they failed to do so. Some games it was a lack of perimeter defense, others it was a lack of rebounding, and sometimes there wasn’t any sort of effort at all. But those issues suddenly vanished at the perfect time against the Heat.

Coming into tonight’s game, the Heat were averaging 115.6 points per game on the season. Facing a Celtics team that couldn’t seem to figure out their defensive scheme on the second night of a back-to-back probably seemed like easy pickings for Miami.

Despite that, they managed to shut down the Heat all night long. Miami shot just 34.6 percent from the field, including a paltry 22 percent from three point land. With dangerous perimeter players such as Tyler Herro, Kyle Lowry, and Duncan Robinson, this team couldn’t afford to allow Miami any space on the perimeter, and for the majority of the night hey didn’t.

Boston also did a good job making sure they didn’t get bullied on the boards by Miami. With Bam Adebayo, Dewayne Dedmon, and P.J. Tucker, the Heat definitely have the ability to pick up some extra hustle rebounds. But Rob Williams, Al Horford, and Jayson Tatum did a good job making sure there weren’t many boards, particularly of the offensive variety, there for the taking.

And overall, the team looked like they actually wanted to play defense this time around, which hasn’t always been the case this season. When you defend with a purpose, it opens up so many other avenues for your team, and Boston found that out tonight when they labored through an up-and-down offensive performance. Even if the offense struggles, the team can win any game they play if their defensive effort is anywhere near as good as it was tonight.