While this Celtics team may have a chemistry similar to that of the championship 2008 club, it was unrealistic to ask them to come together so quickly. Defense has to be the emphasis, because they showed Tuesday that they have scorers, even when the offensive execution is uneven.
“I just thought that was the story of the night, our defensive struggles,” Pierce said. “That’s not who we are, the way we defended tonight. We’re not going to be a team that’s going to give up 120 points.
“We gave up 30 points pretty much each and every quarter. We’ve got to establish our identity and who we are and what we’re going to be, make a decision, because that’s who we are. We’re going to be a defensive team. We’re going to stop teams from scoring. We’re going to keep them out of transition.
“We’ve got to be a team that shows resilience, be the enforcer out there. We pretty much was on our heels the whole night.”
That transition needs to happen soon. The Celtics have cost themselves dearly the past three seasons with painfully slow starts that hurt their playoff seeding. This team is talented and deep and seemingly on the same page with Allen gone and no internal beefs. So the next few weeks will be critical to the Celtics’ long-term success, and it will be on the newcomers to quickly learn the system.
“We’ve got a lot of new guys trying to understand our philosophy defensively,” Pierce said. “We had a lot of breakdowns. I thought we didn’t communicate, either. It’s all about communicating, talking.”