Mazz: Kristaps Porzingis’ defense was a revelation
If left open, especially, we knew he could shoot. But if Kristaps Porzingis’ defense continues to be anything like what it was last night, people forgot about Robert Williams yesterday.
So as the Celtics defeated the New York Knicks last night by a 108-104 score in the season opener for both teams, there was much to digest – some good, some bad, some expected, some surprising. Those who knew Porzingis’ game assured he was a rim protector. Those who didn’t saw him play defense and offense last night like no Celtics player since Kev … well, you know … which completely changes the perception for what he could mean to the team in this pass-fail, championship-or-bust `23-24 season.
For starters, Porzingis finished with four blocks, all which you can see by clicking here:
But those blocks?
They were quite literally just a fraction of the story.
All in all, according to stats compiled on NBA.com, the New York Knicks last night shot 6-for-25 against Porzingis, a paltry 24 percent. And if you look at this specific list, you’ll see that the Knicks shot 4-for-23 (17.4 percent) against the Celtics’ other newcomer, Jrue Holiday, who effectively replaced Marcus Smart in the starting lineup.
Add it all together and New York went 10-for-48 (or just 20.8 percent) against the two men, Porzingis and Holiday, who replaced what were believed to be the two best defenders, Williams and Smart, on the Celtics roster.
One other thing about the Porzingis blocks shown above: the Celtics got possession of the ball on all four. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with a highlight block on which the ball ends up in the crowd. It can be a momentum changer and, if nothing else, psychologically impact the opposition. But when Porzingis is policing the rim like he did last night, the blocks (and missed shots) become more like true turnovers, which helps explain why the Celtics took 20 fewer shots than the Knicks last night – that’s right, 20 – and still won the game.
Defense, after all, is also about efficiency.