Going Deeper

Here at the Upside Review, we are huge fans of cleaningtheglass and admire what Ben has created and the knowledge he drops on those lucky enough to have found his site.  Today, Ben shed some light on what the Boston Celtics are doing defensively to earn their wins.  There are some wonderful insights and Ben is on target with some of the schematics the Celtics employ.  But we think there is something else that nearly everyone has missed.  And it’s much more simple than you’d expect out of an NBA team.  We’ll take some screen shots of the clips Ben chose to use and see if you can see the pattern.

Here is the set up:

CTG BOS 1.JPG

Here is the initial action:

CTG BOS 2

Here is the defensive response to initial action:

CTG BOS 3

Here is a look at defending the ball reversal:

CTG BOS 4

Here is the second side action:

CTG BOS 5

This defensive series ended with a contested mid-range jump shot with the offense conceding the rebound.

CTG BOS 6

That’s magnificent.  Now, who can figure out the pattern?  What is it that Boston is doing throughout these snapshots that is so fascinatingly simple that it’s almost always overlooked?

We will help you out a little bit.  What are they not doing here?:

CTG BOS 7

Or here?:

CTG BOS 8

Now, Ben is not wrong.  There are many factors that contribute to Boston’s success.  They’re a force on the defensive boards and limit easy shots.  The numbers show that clearly.  And the numbers also show that regardless of who is on the roster, their defense continues to be one of the best.  Stevens is the constant.

“It’s phenomenal coaching, getting players to be in the right spots so frequently, and be able to communicate on the fly like this. Especially players so inexperienced and without continuity in the system. But it’s also a credit to the players. Tatum’s positioning is far better than most rookies, and bodes very well for his future on that end of the court. Marcus Smart calls out switches like few others, yelling and pointing directions like the world’s most violent orchestra conductor. Horford’s defense has been flat out sensational.” -Ben Falk, cleaningtheglass.com

NBA coaches have spent countless hours trying to figure out his secret sauce and most of the time people come up with thoughts like, “they can’t call every foul” or “he gets his guys to play hard.”  Both of those statements seem to be true.  But we think there is something else going on.  Something so elegantly-plain that it almost can’t be true.  Ben even mentions the communication between teammates as another factor of excellence.  Again, we don’t think he’s wrong.  We just think it’s simpler than that.

We have never had the luxury of sitting down with Brad Stevens, or Ben Falk.  So we don’t know if what we are saying is merely coincidental, or groundbreaking.  It’s probably somewhere in between.  But since we haven’t heard or seen anyone with our theory, it may end up being an important part of Stevens’ teachings.  BUT…if it is, man does he have a beautiful mind.

Da Vinci

And yes, we realize that we haven’t said what it is that we think Stevens is doing.  Feel free to comment below or hit us up on twitter to get the discussion flowing.

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