Celtics defense rests … again

Rooting for the Celtics this spring is like rooting for car sickness.

The ride may ultimately reach the preferred destination, but not without some serious pain, suffering and emergency pit stops.

And that represents optimism that this Celtics team can rise above its most dreadful moments and be the last team standing.

But with each mind-numbing stumble – like the opening game of their series with the Miami Heat – one must wonder if the next test of the Celtics’ resilience will be the one that makes it snap.

The recurring analysis of why they kicked away another series-opening home game covers the same trampled ground as that of a week ago:

Joe Mazzulla has been exposed as a fraud who has turned his responsibilities his players.

His players are a smorgasbord of eccentricities that too often can’t mesh.

Jayson Tatum is soft.

Jaylen Brown is simply biding his time before he finds a team on which he will be the undisputed No. 1.

Marcus Smart thinks more highly of Marcus Smart than anyone should.

Blah, blah, blah, and blah.

Forgive this foray into simplicity, and for its redundance for the theory offered here for what seems like one day beyond forever:

When the Celtics play defense like a team that prides itself as one of the NBA’s best defensive clubs, they win.

When the Celtics’ defense lapses, they don’t win.

Wednesday night, the Miami Heat scored 46 points in the third quarter, Miami trailed by nine points at the half; it led by 12 after three.

Toss in one more troubling disappearing act by Tatum and the Heat now play with house money in Game 2.

Any team, in any sports, in any playoff series, will always be quite satisfied heading home having split the first two games.

(An aside: Next season, when all that chatter about having the best record and the home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, stop listening – or chattering.)

Defense in pro basketball requires, above everything, going full-throttle from start to finish. It means relying on your bench to maintain some semblance of order so the starters can get an occasional breather.

It means throwing your weight around in the paint – or at least flashing a subtle elbow or two.

When the Celtics look like an elite defensive team, they win.

When they don’t, they lose.

Sometimes keeping it simple is the right thing to do.

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