Doc Rivers praises Celtics’ Marcus Smart while talking the importance of team defense

In the NBA of today, defense is an especially difficult art and one that remains key to the sport despite recent rule changes designed to elevate offense in the league. Team defense, in particular, has filled in the gaps left by individual defenders, which Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers touched on ahead of his team’s Game 3 matchup with the Boston Celtics.

“Because of the rules, it’s really tough to be a great individual defender,” suggested Rivers to the media in response to a question about the 76ers’ defense. “Marcus Smart is one of the best defenders in the league.”

“And yet (Stephen) Curry won MVP in the finals last year, and that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a great defensive player,” he explained. “It’s just hard.”

“It’s much harder,” continued the Sixers coach. “It’s hard to put your hands on anyone now. And so your team defense, your rotations, your low man helps have to be on point every night.”

If they’re not typically going to take advantage of it,” he added, perhaps alluding to the havoc created for Boston in Game 1 — or how the Celtics returned the favor in Game 2 by dialing up their own defensive intensity.

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Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire