Mar 6, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (24) takes a shot against Boston Celtics guard Jason Terry (4) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Boston defeats Indiana 83-81. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

An Examination of The Boston Celtics Manwich Defense


I’m sure you’ve heard about the ‘manwich’ defense by now. The Celtics went on an 11-0 run to finish the game against the Indiana Pacers and won 83-81. They forced the Pacers into a bunch of midrange looks and turnovers. The Pacers went to the post twice in that stretch and there was always help there with no passing lane. Each shot they took in the final four minutes and change in that game was a bad one.

Those shots were brought to you by the manwich defense, as Doc Rivers called it.

“We were laughing because, I think someone called it a manwich, a man zone, I mean, we were half zone, half man. It was almost silly, it really was,” said coach Doc Rivers. “But it was really good.

-Via ESPN Boston

This defense was stifling because it was confusing. The Pacers offensively challenged team wasn’t prepared for this defense. We’ve seen the Celtics run it a few times before in the past–most notably against the Miami Heat. Its very rare that they pull it out, but when they do its pretty effective. Especially now, since the element of Jason Terry’s zone defense has been added.

What the Celtics do when they play this zone is zone out on ball swings and when the pick and roll comes, the two defenders man up and either switch or stay with their original man. The help is always waiting on the weakside because of the zone that is in place.

This defense tricks the offense into attacking a mismatch that isn’t really there. That’s why the Pacers were trying to post up in that final stretch and also why they took a bunch of bad midrange shots.

The Celtics ran this defense against the Warriors as well. It was pretty effective and baited Golden State into taking some unfavorable shots. This is likely going to be a wrinkle in the Celtics defense once playoff time comes. They’re one of the few teams in the league that has the ability to man up and play matchup zone schemes as well. A lot of what the Celtics do on the defensive end is predicated on help defense so they’re very fundamentally sound when playing this defense.

Hopefully, if they do break it out in the playoffs it remains effective. It could be key in the Celtics winning a series or two.

Tags: Boston Celtics Manwich Defense Zone

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