Malcolm Brogdon: Celtics’ Defensive Identity Has Slipped Away

Malcolm Brogdon admitted on Monday that the Celtics’ issues began well before the Eastern Conference Finals, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Boston trails in the series 3-0 and got blown out by the Heat on Miami’s home court on Sunday night. Brogdon, who was acquired last offseason to solidify a team that reached the Finals a year ago, said the team has lost its defensive identity.

“Miami, Denver, there are only a few of them — that have a really strong identity, and they play by it every single night. They’re super committed to it,” Brogdon said. “And, for us, our identity has waned all year long. We’ve been trying to figure out who we are, because I think we’re such a great, talented scoring team, but when we don’t make shots, we got to rely on our defense, and our defense isn’t consistent every night. So, playing a team that’s very consistent and disciplined, we struggle.”

The Heat are shooting 51.9% overall and 47.8% from 3-point range in the series. They have also committed just 31 turnovers, compared to Boston’s 45.

Brogdon said the Celtics’ lack of defensive cohesion has been apparent throughout the postseason. They eliminated the Hawks 4-2 in the first round despite Atlanta scoring 119 or more points in each of the last four games of the series. Boston had to scramble back from a 3-2 series deficit to eliminate the Sixers prior to their matchup with Miami.

“We haven’t been consistently great defensively all year long, and that was the team’s identity last year,” Brogdon said. “I think that’s slipped away from us. We’ve had spurts where we’ve been great defensively, but not consistently. And, honestly, we’ve struggled in every series we’ve played. So, now we’re playing a team that’s playing as if they’re the best team in the league, and they’re just incredibly disciplined, incredibly consistent.”

Brogdon is hopeful for a history-making turnaround, starting with Game 4 on Tuesday.

“We still believe we’re the better team,” he said. “We have not played like it in these three games.”

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