What brought on Boston’s first quarter defensive struggles in opposition to Minnesota?

What brought on Boston’s first quarter defensive struggles in opposition to Minnesota?


In the primary quarter in opposition to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Celtics discovered themselves within the eye of a storm. Being thrown side-to-side and rocked back-and-forth, Boston’s protection struggled to include the Timberwolves’ high-paced five-out offense.

Minnesota had all the things going their manner. In transition, the likes of Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels discovered uncontested lanes to the ring. If Boston managed to kill a quick break, the Timberwolves utilized the area across the free-throw line prolonged to punish the Celtics’ lackluster effort.

Off-ball cuts that flashed center brought on the Celtics protection nightmares on a couple of event. If we take a look at the above play, we are able to see that the ultimate lower earlier than the basket synergized with McDaniels roll to the rim. Anthony Edwards, who had initially set a wedge display for Karl-Anthony Towns, acknowledges McDaniels lower has dragged Marcus Smart below the basket, so he flashes center to obtain the go earlier than ending across the rim in site visitors.

“They’ve been hard to guard, they scored 137 the other night against Indiana – in regulation.” Brad Stevens defined when detailing Boston’s early struggles on protection.


What makes the Timberwolves so onerous to protect is the variety of versatile scorers of their beginning lineup. Towns is a menace from deep, or along with his again to the basket, Edwards can hit the three or drive the lane, whereas McDaniels is a firecracker who can explode for factors in fast bursts. Lead by veteran flooring common Ricky Rubio, the Timberwolves make the most of fixed off-ball motion to stretch defenses and create open area across the nail.

Boston struggled to counter the fluidity of Minnesota’s offense to start the sport, permitting their defensive focus to be stretched on the perimeter. A core tenant of excessive stage defensive group is communication. When a protection is pushed to its most, it turns into more durable for voices to hold over the ground, creating susceptibility to again cuts or angle screens.

“We were struggling to guard them. We were guarding them traditionally, with not much impact.” Stevens mentioned when requested concerning the defensive changes after halftime.

Unfortunately for the Celtics, getting stops within the half courtroom was solely a part of the battle. The Timberwolves began the sport with a transparent intention of operating the break off misses and steals. What rapidly turned obvious was that the Celtics hadn’t eaten their Wheaties that morning, because the crew sluggishly did not include quick break after quick break. NBA Stats tracked the Timberwolves as scoring 28.2% of their factors off the break within the first quarter, with Edwards being the first goal of these offensive possessions.

“We didn’t start off how we wanted to. That team is really talented, especially offensively. And they put up a bunch of points.” Tatum mentioned, when requested about Boston’s defensive struggles to open the sport.


Struggling to include transition possessions isn’t a brand new wrestle for this Celtics crew; They’ve had comparable points relationship again to early January when Stevens would talk about the necessity to “build out to the ball.”

You can dwell with the kind of quick break proven above. Towns leaks out early, and a fast pitch go finds him within the paint whereas the Celtics are nonetheless getting again on protection.

However, the above transition play is simply too simple for the Timberwolves. The idea of constructing out the ball is that the primary man again protects the rim, then you definitely construct out to the perimeter earlier than switching into outlined roles as soon as the transition has damaged down. Here, the Celtics are too zoned in on the perimeter, with nobody defending the paint. Juan Hernangomez runs a fairly slip display and doesn’t face any resistance till he’s basically airborne – even then, the resistance got here from Payton Pritchard, who needed to go away his man within the nook to offer some type of rim resistance.

“We’re young, and guys are still learning,” Smart defined whereas detailing a few of the Celtics shortcomings, each early within the sport and through the fourth quarter.

Perhaps the Celtics got here into the competition anticipating a cakewalk from the league’s worst crew. Still, the extra logical rationalization is that the Timberwolves are slowly getting again to full power following their very own well being struggles this season, and so they got here into the competition trying to land some early blows.

Stevens talked about the Timberwolves struggles publish sport. “You can fool yourself with their record, but they haven’t had all their guys that much.”

Ultimately, it took Boston till the third quarter to mitigate the stormy first quarter’s injury, because the crew adjusted the protection and upped their depth. As Smart talked about, this crew remains to be younger, and each sport gives the youthful core with new challenges that pressure them to develop and adapt.

In the approaching week, a West Coast highway journey goes to check this roster’s improved resilience together with their adaptability, beginning with Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets on Sunday at 3 pm EST. Luckily, the Nuggets play at a a lot slower tempo than the Timberwolves, so hopefully there’s much less stress in transition.