On Wednesday night, the Boston Celtics made a statement going into Bankers Life Fieldhouse and beat the Indiana Pacers. This was a big win for an aging Celtics team looking to stay in the playoffs, but the defense they played was different to say the least.
Harkening back to his collegiate days as a Marquette Golden Eagle head coach, Doc Rivers implemented what he called a “manwich” or “man zone” to stifle a Pacers team that came in winning eight of their last 10 games. This defense isn’t something you see everyday, as the Celtics decided to run a zone on any ball swing, and man defense on any pick-and-roll.
As confusing as it sounds, it’s worked wonders for the Celtics guards, especially Jason Terry, who often attacks late in games and who ran a zone while with the Dallas Mavericks.
Their is no denying the Celtics’ success as they have won four straight, and have featured a zone in each victory. With Rajon Rondo going out with a torn ACL, the team has been forced to cook something up differently on defense, even though it took Kevin Garnett a little while to get used to.
Rivers said “Kevin wants to just play man-to-man” however, if running a zone is what’s going to get the Celtics over the hump, then so be it.
I think the Celtics have the perfect personnel to run this kind of defense, but I don’t think it will catch on given how late in the season it is. Rivers is the best coach in the NBA bar-none, so I am not surprised he cooked up this defensive front.
Running this type of defense could save a Celtics season that appeared doomed just a few weeks ago.