Tom Thibodeau thinks new-look Clippers can be like ’08 Celtics defensively
Tom Thibodeau is one of basketball’s best defensive minds, and he likes the potential that the new-look LA Clippers have on that end of the floor.
In an interview with The Athletic’s Jovan Buha that ran Sunday, the former Minnesota Timberwolves coach had a lofty comparison for the Clippers’ D.
“I think this team has the capability to be just as good [as the 2008 Boston Celtics] when you look at it,” he said. “I think it’ll be seamless. You’re talking two elite defenders [in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George] that guard multiple positions, multiple effort guys, never quit on plays. Both guys are very unique. Even if you can get by them, they’ll come from behind and get the ball.
“I think when you add in Patrick Beverley on the ball, 94 feet, and then those guys up in passing lanes, it’ll be very hard to score against them,” Thibodeau continued. “Their containment of the ball and also their pressure on the ball is going to cause a lot of problems. I think they’ll create a lot of turnovers. They’ll be a high steal team as well.”
The ’08 Celtics team is widely regarded as one of the greatest defensive teams ever, anchored by big man great Kevin Garnett and complemented by some of the NBA’s best defenders at their position like Rajon Rondo, Tony Allen, and Kendrick Perkins. Boston won 66 games that year, finished first in defensive rating, and took home the championship as well. Of course, Thibodeau was also their lead assistant, serving under current Clippers coach Doc Rivers.
As for the Clippers, they obviously boast three all-world defensive behemoths in Leonard, George, and Beverley. But they have several other physical wing defenders like Moe Harkless and Rodney McGruder to make life difficult for opposing scorers as well. Thibs has been around the Clippers since last year, and it’s clear that he likes what he sees in them.