Celtics thwarting Devin Booker highlights encouraging defensive improvement

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Nick Goss
·2 min read
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Why Celtics' defense on Suns star Devin Booker was encouraging originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Devin Booker has dominated the Boston Celtics several times in his NBA career, but the Phoenix Suns guard enjoyed very little success Thursday night at TD Garden.

The 24-year-old All-Star actually had one of his worst games of the season in a 99-86 loss to the Celtics.

Booker scored 15 points -- tied for his third-fewest in a single game this year -- on 6-for-13 shooting with five turnovers. He also fouled out in the fourth quarter.

NBA.com

What led to the C's slowing down one of the league's most potent scorers?

Marcus Smart, unsurprisingly, carried most of the burden. In the 5:22 that Smart was the primary defender on Booker, the Suns guard scored just two points on 1-for-5 shooting with two turnovers, according to the league's tracking data

Celtics guard Kemba Walker, who isn't known for being a defensive stopper, also excelled versus Booker. The Suns star scored just two points and committed three turnovers when guarded by Walker. 

Forsberg: How Kemba got his groove back for Celtics

Smart and Walker combined to thwart Booker on a late second-quarter drive that ultimately ended with C's point guard taking a charge.

Check it out in the video below:

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It was one of multiple charges Walker drew on Booker. The final one came in the fourth quarter and resulted in Booker fouling out.

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The Celtics have a 9-2 record in April, and their excellent play defensively is the primary reason for that success. Their 106.6 defensive rating in April is the third-best in the league behind only the Utah Jazz and Toronto Raptors.

The C's, when healthy, have plenty of scorers to put on the floor. Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Evan Fournier headline that group. Offense shouldn't be a huge issue come playoff time. Defense is going to make or break this team, and luckily for the Celtics, they seem to be improving in this area at the perfect time.