Commentary

Opponents making a point with Celtics

High-scoring Golden State puts further challenge to Boston defense

Updated: November 18, 2009, 2:58 PM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

With the Pacers posting a 113-104 win over the Celtics Saturday -- the second time in eight days that the Celtics gave up 110 points or more --- you might be wondering just how many times opponents have reached the 110-point plateau against Boston since the new Big 3 united in 2007.

It's probably more than you might have guessed.

Opponents have scored 110 points or more 14 times since 2007, including six times in both 2007-08 and 2008-09. The Celtics are 3-11 in those games, one of which went to overtime.

The fact that the Celtics have given up that many points twice in 11 games this season is a bit staggering, considering that Boston has championed itself as a unit that wants to be remembered as the greatest defensive team of all time.

Consider this: The 1998-99 San Antonio Spurs, largely regarded as one of the finest defensive teams ever after holding opponents to an NBA record 40.2 field goal percentage, allowed only one opponent to reach that plateau in a 110-84 loss to Phoenix. Opponents reached triple figures only five times that season. What's more, the Spurs were 21-3 when they held opponents below 90 points (the Celtics are 5-0 under the same criteria this season).

As Golden State limps into the Garden with its 3-7 record, here's one thing to consider for Wednesday's game: The Warriors have scored 110 points or more in four of their last seven meetings with the Celtics (though, ironically, the Warriors lost 119-111 at the Garden last November, while winning in Golden State, 99-89, in December).

Golden State is averaging a league-best 111.6 points per game (yet allowing a league-worst 113.7 per contest), and the Celtics know they must make improvements defensively.

"I thought we were awful defensively," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said after Saturday's loss to Indiana. "[The Pacers] ran a lot of nice stuff, but we were awful."

Added guard Ray Allen: "[Defense] is what we live on, so not to adjust to what they were doing … it's baffling in my mind. We should have been able to knock that down, but we didn't."

The Celtics have talked about tightening up their one-on-one defense. In Friday's loss to the Hawks, guards were getting beat off the dribble and, even though Atlanta wasn't always able to convert initial efforts, Boston was caught in help defense, allowing the Hawks to clean up on the offensive glass.

It might have been more of the same in Indiana, where Paul Pierce's knee injury -- he called it a "light sprain" -- left him a step slow on defense and Indiana thrived in transition, but they also shot well from the perimeter.

The Celtics, rested after three days off, seemingly have an edge over the road-weary Warriors, who are 1-3 on a five-game road trip, which included a 114-108 loss at Cleveland Tuesday night. What's more, after completing a swap that sent Stephen Jackson and Acie Law to Charlotte in exchange for Raja Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic on Monday, Golden State dressed only seven healthy players Monday.

"I don't know what you can do," said Golden State coach Don Nelson. "Just play and see what happens. Full roster or not, it was going to be a tough go coming into these next two games. We realized that."

Pierce, who went full speed at Tuesday's practice after being limited Monday, is expected to be in the starting lineup Wednesday.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Chris Forsberg is a roving reporter for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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