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Brad Stevens on Celtics defense: ‘We don’t have a chance to compete at a high level if we don’t guard better’ 01.03.17 at 7:15 pm ET
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Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens

Before taking on the Jazz at TD Garden, coach Brad Stevens discussed how inconsistent the Celtics have been on the defensive end this season and why it’s important for him to make the proper adjustments going forward. 

The Celtics will certainly have their hands full on Tuesday, facing one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. The Jazz lead the league in fewest points allowed (94.5), are currently fourth in the Western Conference and riding high on a four-game winning streak. 

Stevens broke down stretches throughout the season where he’s seen his team defend poorly and why going to a ‘small-ball lineup’ against particular teams hurts them on the defensive end. 

“Sometimes when we go small, we’re really small so we’ve had to adjust that,” Stevens explained. “First seven games we were atrocious, defensively — which would actually be a compliment to how we were. And then the last seven [games] we haven’t guarded late, the middle 20 we were third in the league. So, we gotta be great, we gotta be great on that end if we wanna improve. Hopefully, we can be better at that as we head into this month and a half before the All-Star break because we don’t have a chance to compete at a high level if we don’t guard better.”

The Celtics will certainly have their hands full in the low post, facing one of the league’s most impressive big men in Rudy Gobert. Utah’s defensive juggernaut is second in the league in blocks per game (2.60) behind Anthony Davis (2.62) and fifth in rebounding (12). 

Offensively, he leads the league in field goal percentage shooting at a 69 percent clip.

“He’s so big,” Stevens said about Gobert. “If he catches the ball on a roll and even if you’re there and he’s inside six [or] five feet of the basket, there’s a good chance you and the ball are both going into the basket together. He’s great at lobs. He’s gotten better, I think at finishing in traffic from what I’ve seen.

“He’s a good offensive rebounder. And then they have a bunch of guys that can really shoot the ball so he gets looks because you’re worried about the 3-point line. He’s a really good player and he’s having a great year.”

Another player who’s having a great season for the Jazz is their leading scorer, Gordon Hayward. Hayward is in the midst of the best season of his career, averaging 22.4 points a game while shooting 45 percent from the floor.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: French C Rudy Gobert 06.26.13 at 5:52 am ET
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As part of’€™s coverage of the 2013 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their lone selection at No. 16.


Position: Center

Team: Cholet Basket (France)

Age: 20

Height: 7-foot-2

Weight: 238 pounds

Achievements: All-French ProA Honorable Mention (2013)

Key 2012-13 stats: 8.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 21.4 minutes

What he brings: The first thing that should be noted about Gobert is his freakish height and reach. Gobert’€™s 7-foot, 8½-inch wingspan and 9-foot, 7-inch standing reach are NBA combine records, and he has the physical tools to be an effective NBA center. That size helps him rebound, as he averaged 9.3 boards per 40 minutes last season.

Gobert can move well, which helps him as an effective pick-and-roll defender. His size makes him effective around his own rim, and he has good instincts as a shot-blocker.

However, Gobert is not a good shooter, and he struggles if he does not finish at the rim. While he is big, he needs to get stronger if he is going to be effective at scoring around the basket in the NBA.

Notes: Gorbert’€™s father, Rudy Bourgarel, played basketball at Marist College from 1985-88 before playing professionally in France. He played on the 1988 French Olympic team. … Rudy shares an agent with Trail Blazers forward Nicholas Batum, who also is from France.

Recent articles: Spotlight: Rudy Gobert

SB Nation: Rudy Gobert and the hazardous intrigues of potential

Video: Here is a highlight mix of Gobert.

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