Are the Celtics finally showing their true grit?
|12.09.12 at 10:12 pm ET|
Before Saturday night’s game, Doug Collins told his team that Kevin Garnett had over 51,000 minutes played in his career while Paul Pierce had over 40,000. Collins’ counterpart, Doc Rivers, the ultimate motivator, spoke to the team and made sure Garnett got the message.
“I don’t know,” Rivers said. “I don’t think anybody should be that tired this early, but Doug’s right about the one thing these games: you play each other, you split them. That’s basically what happened. But I hope we are. When you guys asked before the game – they’ve played a long time and so you’re hoping they have great mental toughness. I mean, if they don’t have anything else that’s what they should have, and they do.”
Garnett may not have had legs on back-to-back to games as he was held without a rebound for the first time since Jan. 21, 1997 but his shooting eye certainly was not impacted.
Garnett was 9-of-11 and finished with 19 points in 24 minutes as the Celtics beat the Sixers, 92-79, a night after spending lots of emotional energy in a 95-94 overtime loss.
Is Rivers worried about the dependence on Garnett?
“No, I mean, Miami depends on LeBron (James), the Lakers depend on Kobe (Bryant), Oklahoma depends on (Kevin) Durant, we depend on our guys. You’re always going to depend on them. I thought overall everyone else played great, though, and we had that one bad stretch. So, you know, it happens.”
To Rivers, toughness begins with defense and that’s the characteristic he’s starting to see game in and game out with the Celtics. The Celtics have allowed fewer than 100 points in six straight games, dating back to their overtime win in Orlando. In those games, the Celtics have gone
3-3 but they’ve started to show the kind of pressure that Rivers wants to see on the ball.
“It’s been great; it really has been,” Rivers said. “You know, we can’t string a streak of wins together yet, but you can feel us playing better. So you feel like it’s coming, just nothing’s happened. We’re treading water but I like our trend; I like where we’re going.
“The pick and roll defense has improved dramatically, but our rotation still is not there, but they’re much better. Our pressuring the ball, you know without Avery (Bradley), we just kind of backed off of that. So I know that’s an area we’re going to get way better. Because when he does it everyone does it and it helps your team. Right now it’s just hard to do.”