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Defensive versatility is what makes the Celtics special

The Boston Celtics defeated the Dallas Mavericks in the opening game of the NBA Finals on Thursday (June 6). Joe Mazzulla’s team produced an elite performance on both sides of the ball, leaving the Mavericks shell-shocked and searching for answers. However, Boston’s defense stood out. Every member of the rotation held their own.

During his postgame news conference, Jayson Tatum credited the Celtics’ collective defensive skill. He noted that Boston’s postseason rotation is talented enough that no one can consistently be hunted on mismatches. When facing an isolation-heavy time like the Mavericks, defensive stability is key.

“Something that we have harped on all season, what makes our team really special, is we don’t have guys that we hide on defense,” Tatum said. “Bigs and guards, we switch, we take on the challenge of individual defense. Understanding that we have help, it’s a team sport, we have all got to be on the same page, but we’re not showing or anything like that, because that could compromise your defense. And, essentially, if you want to play on our team you have to be able to guard, and everybody knows that.”

The Celtics can’t take their opening win for granted. The Mavericks have lost the opening game in two of their three previous playoff matchups. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have continually found ways to help their team bounce back.

Nevertheless, the Celtics are arguably the best defensive team in the NBA. Even with their elite offensive ability, the team’s identity comes on the defensive side of the floor.

Mazzulla’s team will need to repeat their June 6 performance three more times. If they can do that, they will end the season as champions.

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Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire