The defense isn't that much worse though. Opponents FG% went from 44.1 to 45.0 percent. The opponents PPG went up 2 points, but only went from 13th to 15th in the league but the offense's PPG also went up 2 (though the league is scoring a lot more this year as Boston went from 5th to 7th despite scoring 2.3 more ppg). Boston did a much better job in the foul line and a better job forcing turnovers. The biggest difference statistically this year is rebounding. Boston went from a 1.1 discrepancy to a 2.5 discrepancy and was one of the worst offensive rebounding teams I can remember. That is a lot of extra possessions and the team not only failed to address rebounding at any point in the prior year intentionally got worse by eliminating its best rebounder and by failing to replace him.
This team has had the same glaying holes and deficiencies for 2 years none of which were even attempted to be solved except a push for a guy who was unlikely to sign in Boston. Ainge wouldn't give up a worthless pick and a guy that is barely going to play this postseason for a rental even a rental that could have solved many of the issues on the team. The team has no one that plays inside on either end of the court well. Has 25 guards and 0 centers (yes that is sarcasm). The team only has 1 above scorer who is the smallest player in the NBA and who has consistently shown he isn't very effective in the post season. This is a 40 win team by talent that Stevens just coaches up in the regular season to overachieving levels and then it invariably flames out in the post season. Ainge needs to stop getting a pass for things he did years ago. We are now starting to see the effect of having your cake and trying to eat it too. You just can't do that. A direction needs to be taken. This is the summer.
This is all pretty much nonsense that the amateur GMs are seizing on after looking foolish with how this team turned out better than they expected. It's just like how everyone was going nuts over Portis after Game 1. In Game 2, Portis played 9 minutes, scored 3 points and had a -11 point differential.
If anything, Ainge is largely validated by the last two games because adding anyone like Ibaka wouldn't make a bit of difference to this squad. And adding Butler or George surely wouldn't fix the problems either. Cousins is another thing but let's remember that one of the main reasons we reportedly didn't get him is because STEVENS didn't want him.
I'm not saying Ainge doesn't deserve criticism and the players obviously do, but so does the coach. The first and biggest problem with this team is the defense and when five of your top eight players are all average to outstanding individual defenders and your defense is as awful as it has been this year for Boston...whose fault is that?
I think you're both right here.
Moranis is completely spot-on with the need for Ainge to pick a direction and stick to it, and many of us have said this same exact thing since the summer, and especially since the trade deadline. You simply can't have your cake and eat it, too, because this is the type of inherently flawed roster you get when you do that. When Danny is too cheap to spend even some of our lesser assets to upgrade this team, there's no point in even trying to compete now with how much you're handicapping the current team.
But MBunge is also right that Stevens is to blame, too, especially for our defensive woes. This poor defense didn't just suddenly crop up; we've played this type of terrible D all season long, and Brad has STILL not been able to fix it, which is ridiculous when you consider the fact that we have 3 to 4 elite defenders that are in the top 5 in minutes played for us this year. There's absolutely no excuse for the defensive drop-off that we've had this year, and even if it's a player motivation problem, that's on the softy Stevens to figure out. Maybe he needs to sack up a bit, do his job, and motivate his [dang] players to play defense with intensity.
And finally, the players are obviously to blame, too. Specifically, I think much of the blame needs to be put on AB, Jae, and Al, who have consistently fallen below expectations this year, especially defensively. Funnily enough, it seems that IT and Smart always get a ton of blame when in fact they at least bring something (scoring or defense and intensity) every night, which is more than we can say for the rest of the team.
Defense is not the teams problem. It lacks a high level 2nd scorer, it lacks rebounder, and it lacks a top level rim protector. Those are the same 3 glaring weaknesses Boston had last year as well and Ainge just flat out didn't address any of those weaknesses. He shouldn't be given a pass for that especially when there were plenty of players available and available very cheaply at the deadline that would have addressed all of those issues. Put it this way, is Boston down 0-2 if it had Carmelo Anthony and Nerlens Noel on the roster right now. Maybe you don't want Anthony or Noel, but what about Ibaka and Tucker. Or maybe just Cousins. Was keeping Crowder really worth not having Butler? I mean if the reports are believed, Boston could have acquired Butler before the last draft for 3, Bradley, and Crowder, but Ainge didn't want to give up both Bradley and Crowder and the trade never happened.
I don't think cherry picking individual stats really represents what has happened to Boston's defense.https://www.teamrankings.com/nba/stat/defensive-efficiency?date=2016-06-20
This site has the Celtics' overall team defensive ranking going from #4 last season to #13 in the league this season.http://stats.nba.com/teams/defense/#!?sort=W&dir=-1&Season=2016-17&SeasonType=Regular%20Season
This site has us going from #5 to #12.http://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_2017_ratings.html
This site has us dropping from #4 to # 13 as well.http://www.espn.com/nba/hollinger/teamstats/_/sort/defensiveEff
This one has us dropping from tied for #4 to #12 in defensive efficiency.
That's a very significant drop off for a team that arguably upgraded defensively with Al over Sully and only lost Even Turner. It's going from an elite defense to an ordinary one with virtually the same players.
And who really cares about getting out of the first round? If we can't beat the Bulls as we are, adding Ibaka and Tucker isn't going to make us any more likely to beat the Cavs or even make it out of the second round. And, in case you missed it, the Bulls actually HAD Butler this year and were a lot worse than we were during the regular season.
Cousins is a different matter. If we get swept out of the first round, or even lose a six or seven game series to Chicago, it should be open season on ripping Ainge for not going hard after Cousins. But Brad Stevens should be included in each and every rip since all the signs point to him wanting nothing to do with Cousins.