Doc Rivers  can read a stat sheet just like everyone else. What it means to him is something entirely different.
The stat sheet says Paul Pierce  had zero rebounds in 36 minutes. The stat sheet reads Kevin Garnett  hauling in just three rebounds in 31 minutes. Brandon Bass  led starters with six and Jared Sullinger led all Celtics  with seven. They were outrebounded by San Antonio 41-25 in a 112-100 loss Wednesday night at TD Garden.
‘I think it’ll be easy to say ‘the bigs, the bigs.’ It wasn’t the bigs,” Rivers said. “It was, but it wasn’t as well. We thought we started out the game terrific in the way were playing and then we went on that little turnover-fest and got them kind of activated ‘ Tony Parker  and their game. I thought we were late on a lot of our rotations and allowed them to just move the ball; very few deflections, which is a big number for us. And then down the stretch (Tiago Splitter) just played terrific.
“He made some big shots them, hell they even went to him a couple times. You know, offensively you score 100 points, 53%, you’re pretty happy. But we just let a team shoot 58% against us. We let a team shoot 50% from the three against us. And it’s tough to win a game, you shouldn’t win a game, if that happens.’
Do the Celtics need to play harder?
‘I think we’ve got to do our coverages better, just bottom line,” Rivers said. “Harder and all that, that sounds great. That’s what everyone says when you lose; ‘you’ve got to play harder.’ Well, we’ve got to play smarter, we have to know our coverages better, and when that happens everybody is on the same page and it allows our rotations to be freer, it allows our bigs to get back to the paint. So I thought it was a lot of that.’
Ah, the paint. That’s where the Celtics were outscored 58-34, being dominated at one point, 48-18. But still, that’s not specifically why the Celtics lost. Yes, it’s part of the reason but Rivers points out that when you don’t defend the man delivering the ball into the paint very well, you have no shot. Still, with under three minutes left, the Celtics drew to within six and the Garden was on its feet hoping against hope.
‘Yeah, we were right there because nobody could stop anybody on either team,” Rivers said. “Again, we shot 53% so the reason we were there is because our offense allowed us to stay there. But to me, that was fools’ gold, because the way we were playing defense you’re not going to get a stop, you’re not going to win a game. And I think we cut it several times and either we had a turnover and they went and scored or late-clock possessions; I think they got them all. They got all the loose balls, all the late-clock scores, and that hurt us.’
As for having just one offensive rebound, Rivers says that’s all but insignificant to him.
“Honestly, we shot 53%, there’s not going to be a lot of offensive boards,” he said. “You know what I mean? So I’m not that concerned by it. They shot 58% and they had six. So, you’re a big believer in offensive rebounds I think; I’m not. Listen, like I said, you can pick on that all I want. That is a number I rarely look at, is offensive rebounds. Statistically it holds up. I can tell you, you don’t offensive rebound, you stop transition, you win more games than when you get offensive rebounds. I can guarantee you that on those stats.
‘Obviously we would like to get some offensive rebounds, and if we’re under there we’ll take them, and we didn’t get any, but that ain’t why we lost. Let me just say that. Offensive rebounds is the least of our problems.’
What do the Celtics have to fix by Friday, when they host Kevin Durant  and the Thunder?
‘A lot. Like not letting a team score 112 points would be one,” Rivers said with a pained smile. “Actually, I thought our transition D was below average today. Big possession down the stretch, I think (Rajon) Rondo  missed a lay-up and we had ‘ I think (Leandro) Barbosa  missed a jump shot ‘ we had plenty of time to get back, and we’re getting back but we’re not getting matched up. That’s our issue. Guys are running back, so that’s number one. Our pick-and-roll defense has got to improve. Right now teams are picking on us in our pick-and-roll D, so that has to improve.’