|Rajon Rondo: ‘We’re not taking away anything’ on defense||11.21.12 at 11:34 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo can see what everyone else sees, including his head coach. The Celtics are not doing a good job defending in half-court. That has been a trademark of the Celtics success of the last five years.
But again on Wednesday night, it failed them as the Spurs not only won the game, 112-100, but they outscored the Celtics, 58-34, in the paint, thanks in large part to San Antonio’s passing and Boston’s inability to stop it.
“I don’t know,” Rondo said. “Can’t pinpoint one thing. Their players got into the paint. They did a good job of having their bigs passing [the ball]. They did a good job of everything. We didn’t take away anything we wanted to tonight.
“We’re making the same mistakes in our defense, night in and night out so I think we just have to do a better job of focusing in shootaround in the mornings when we’re given the assignments because each team varies. We’re making a lot of easy mistakes that allow teams to get to 112 points.”
It wasn’t quite “Dead men walking” as Doc Rivers put it after the loss by 20 in Detroit on Sunday night. But still, it’s alarming to these Celtics that they can’t defend for some reason in half-court.
“Basketball, you’re going to make mistakes in this game,” Rondo added. “The other team gets paid as well and they’re going to make you make mistakes but we pride ourselves on defense and we’re just not getting it done.
“We’re not taking away anything. We gave up the corner three tonight. We gave up the paint, touches and paint finishes. We gave up too many ‘And-1s’ again. I think we probably lead the league in ‘And-1s.’ So, we have to do a better job, not to hurt anyone but not let guys finish at the rim. We’re not finishing at all. It’s a collective team effort. It starts with me. I have to do a better job on pick-and-roll coverage and get back and help my bigs rebound.”
Talk about going from the frying pan into the fire, the Celtics welcome Kevin Durant and the Thunder Friday night to TD Garden. The 10:30 shootaround should be much more intense than normal.
“We have to try and bounce back and the best thing about the league is you don’t have to wait a week to play another game,” Rondo said. “So, after Thanksgiving we’ll try to get back and get focused for Oklahoma City.”
|Doc Rivers on Kevin Garnett vs. Tim Duncan: ‘Just put up a mirror’||11.21.12 at 7:18 pm ET|
Celtics head coach Doc Rivers before Wednesday night’s game with the San Antonio Spurs talked about Grinnell College’s Jack Taylor and his 138-point performance on Tuesday, a comparison between Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan, a comparison of Rajon Rondo and Tony Parker and the status of Paul Pierce‘s sprained ankle.
Doc on Rondo vs. Parker: “I’d rather have just one of the game’s best playing tonight. It’s amazing. They’re both terrific, obviously. They’re so different in how they play. It’s amazing how many different point guards there are in the league right now, and they’re all really good. You have to prepare for each one of them in a different way. The big ones, the strong ones, the fast ones, the witty ones. It’s different right now with all the different types of point guards, and each team has built their team around that style of point guard. It’s a good time in the league right now for that position.”
|Leandro Barbosa: Helping this Celtics team ‘all that matters to me’||11.15.12 at 10:50 am ET|
The marriage of Leandro Barbosa and the Celtics seems to be a perfect one.
Once again Wednesday night, Barbosa was just what Boston needed to overcome the loss of Rajon Rondo to a sprained right ankle.
“Just play the game, go with the flow,” Barbosa said of his mission after scoring 16 points in 23 minutes of a 98-93 win over the Jazz. “Bring a lot of energy. Make sure that I give [guys rest], especially Paul [Pierce] and [Kevin Garnett]. We are in the flow, now three games, and I just want to keep it going.”
Barbosa was signed on Oct. 18, not exactly sure how much time he would get on the floor. But the 29-year-old said he was a very happy to get another chance in the NBA after stints with the Suns, Raptors and Pacers.
“First of all, I’m happy to be here. Boston Celtics is a great team,” he said. “Great guys, great organization. I’m very happy to be here. When I got the call, it was a great surprise for me. Now that I’m here, I want to make sure I can help the guys out.”
One thing you won’t hear Barbosa do is whine about playing time. His 23 minutes on Wednesday were a season high after he averaged just over 12 in the first seven games.
“Some days I won’t have a lot of minutes, and I knew that when they called me, but just being here and being here and try to help them get better on the court is all that matters to me,” he said.
“He’s earned it,” Doc Rivers said of Barbosa’s increased role, with or without a healthy Rondo. “I tell everybody, ‘Listen, we sign you, and you come, and there’s no guarantees that you’re going to play. But if you earn it, you get to play.’ And he’s earned it. He deserves to play.”
Rivers has simplified things for Barbosa, asking him not to run complex sets simply because he doesn’t have the experience yet in the system. He is running more transition offense and pick-and-rolls, fairly standard stuff in the NBA.
“Obviously, Rondo goes out in the second half and just putting LB in and we didn’t run much because he doesn’t know much,” Rivers said. “But everything was basically pick-and-rolls. We told him to just keep attacking to the basket and we’ll figure it out from there.”
Admitted Barbosa: “For me, it’s much easier. I feel a lot more comfortable playing that way. But I feel comfortable, too, with the plays. The coaches have been very [helpful] coaching me on the side. I’m almost there.”
The reason Rivers is relying more on Barbosa is his veteran savvy on the court — like when two Jazz players doubled Garnett in the third quarter. Barbosa saw his man leave for KG and immediately went to the basket for an easy layup.
“I just saw that he was doubled,” Barbosa said. “My man went to double him so I just decided to come back and give some help, and it worked out.”
|Doc Rivers: Leandro Barbosa ‘bailed us out’||11.14.12 at 11:46 pm ET|
Outside of trainer Ed Lacerte, Leandro Barbosa was the most important member of the Celtics bench Wednesday night as he scored 16 points and steadied the ship when its leader Rajon Rondo went down with a sprained right ankle midway through the third quarter. The Celtics were able to hold off the Jazz, 98-93, Wednesday night at TD Garden.
But as coach Doc Rivers points out, it wasn’t just his time replacing Rondo and running the point in the second half that turned out to be so important.
“Barbosa was terrific,” Rivers said. “I mean, he bailed us out. Not only just replacing Rondo; I thought in the first half – I thought our starters started the game out pretty flat and I thought our second unit with Courtney Lee and Barbosa, Jared [Sullinger], that group gave us a spurt, Jeff Green. And then obviously Rondo goes out in the second half and just putting LB in and we didn’t run much because he doesn’t know much. But everything was basically pick-and-rolls. We told him to just keep attacking to the basket and we’ll figure it out from there.”
Barbosa was so good, in fact, it kept Rivers from considering his worst nightmare, life without Rondo.
“It’s going to happen,” Rivers acknowledged. “He’s not going to play all 82 [games], I doubt. It’d be nice. You know how I think, guys, the next guy, just somebody has to step up and we have to figure it out. And tonight was a great example that we did that. We had other options; you could put JET [Jason Terry] in at the point. I mean, it was just one of those games. I thought the big lineup, or our semi-big lineup with Paul [Pierce] and Jeff changed the game for us as well. We had a post presence with those guys. So, it was an interesting game. When we get outrebounded by what we did, 18-4 [offensive rebounds], it’s hard to win a basketball game. And yet we still won it.”
|Al Jefferson on Celtics: ‘If that situation were to happen, I’d love to do that again’||11.14.12 at 7:27 pm ET|
Talk about full circle.
If you’re a Celtics fan wouldn’t it be something if the Celtics were somehow able to land Al Jefferson in free agency next season? The man most famous for being the biggest chip that brought Kevin Garnett to Boston in the summer of 2007 spoke before taking on his former team Wednesday at the Garden. He forced the first overtime of Utah’s 140-133 triple-overtime win over Toronto Monday night with a rebound and a 3-pointer.
A lot of things would have to fall into place. First, Jefferson would have to turn down what he considers to be a situation in Salt Lake City that he says compares very favorably to Boston.
“We haven’t had any conversations,” Jefferson said before his match up with the Celtics Wednesday night. “This is all about going out and taking care of business. If I go out and take care of my business, everything else will work itself out. I’m not really concerned about it.”
Jefferson is making $15 million in the final year of his deal in Utah.
“I want to be in the NBA,” Jefferson said. “When both teams want me, that’s when I need to start worrying. Right now, I just want to be in the NBA, I want to be with the Utah Jazz to be honest with you. I’d love to stay in Utah. They do things the right way, kind of remind me of Boston, first class. They do everything the right way. They have to do what’s best for their team and I have to do what’s best for my family. Right now, it’s all about winning and getting back to the playoffs.
“I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. You really don’t want to think too far ahead. You have to take care of business day-by-day. If I do my part, everything will work out.”
As for Boston?
“This is my first home,” he said with a big smile. “This will always be my home away from home. Danny Ainge gave me a chance when nobody else did. If that situation were to happen, I’d love to do that again. But right now, like I said, it’s all about taking care of business and finishing out the season right.”
Last year, Doc Rivers took his former big man to dinner. This year?
“Nah, screw Al,” Rivers laughed. “I don’t have time for him. He’s too good now. I didn’t. It’s just a tough trip.”
Jefferson is averaging 15.8 points and 11 rebounds and has started all eight games for the Jazz this year. So much has changed for Jefferson, who has had his share of terrible injury luck, including blowing out his knee in Minnesota in three non-playoff seasons there before finally getting a taste of the playoffs last season with the Jazz.
“It was always a rebuilding year in Minnesota,” Jefferson said. “It’s just been great to get to the Jazz, where it’s just like Boston – all about winning. They always have winning in mind. Danny’s probably thinking right now of a way to win five years from now. That’s just the way it is [in Boston] and that’s the way it is in Utah.”
“He just keeps getting better and better,” Rivers said. “The thing I thought I’d never say about Al is he’s becoming a better passer, and I’m very happy about that for him. He just keeps working on his game.
“I think he hit that one little stretch, where he lost a lot and you can see he’s fought through that now. I think making that playoff run, he was a big part of it last year, has kind of restoked him, and it’s good. He’s a heck of a guy.”
|Paul Pierce explains why Celtics ‘really disturbing’ transition D is his biggest worry||11.10.12 at 9:54 am ET|
Paul Pierce has seen a lot since his entrance into the NBA in 1998. For that reason, the Celtics captain says he’s ready to be very patient with this team, even after the C’s lost their third game in five tries to open the season Friday night at TD Garden. Pierce scored a team-high 24 points but it wasn’t enough as the Sixers pulled out a 106-100 win that dropped Boston to 2-3 on the season with road games Saturday in Milwaukee and Monday in Chicago.
“I’m very patient,” Pierce said. “I understand that it’s a process. We’re only five games in. We’re still building. Even though we lost today, we’re down, there are some positive things that can come from that. And so, it’s still a long season. We have to get some things together. Maybe a road trip like this one, against two pretty good teams can solve it. We’ll see.
“I’ve been a patient person for the most part. The thing is you just have to talk it out. Young teams get frustrated with one another; they start pointing fingers. You can’t do that. That’s a losing team, that’s losing genetics. We don’t have that in here. We are a team that is just going to try and solve it by talking to one another, trying to figure out what we need to do to get better and build from there.”
Pierce says all the talk about the bench is overrated since it’s the first unit that need to play better in transition on both ends.
“It’s just that we have to put the time in at practice figuring out the second unit but that’s going to come,” Pierce said. “Our identity is going to be a defensive team first. We have the talent offensively where we think it will come together. We have to do a better job sharing the ball, making the extra passes but the main concern is the transition defense and rebounding the ball.”
The Celtics were beaten badly again in transition Friday night. Two stats prove his point. They were outscored 26-9 on fast break point – a stat Doc Rivers said was actually much worse than the number – and Philly beat up Boston in the paint 56-38, many coming on layups in transition.
“When I look at this game if I had to point out one thing that’s a major concern for us, and has been for these last five games, it’s probably our transition defense,” Pierce said. “That’s the No. 1 thing right now. When you look up and we’re playing well half-court wise, and then you give teams that many layups in transition, it’s really disturbing so that’s one thing we have to look at the film, address that. If we can do a better a job of getting back on defense, limit those easy opportunities, then we give ourselves a better chance.
“Getting back, talking, matching up with the nearest guy, loading up to the ball, helping one another. Just basically when the [shot] goes up, you either go get the rebound or get back. It’s one of the two things. For the most part, it has to come from the guys on the perimeter, we have to do a better job of getting back from the 1, 2 and the 3-positions, the point guard, the 2-guard and myself. Our big men are crashing for offensive rebounds. If they’re not, they have to get back also.”
|Doc Rivers has had it with the lineup questions||11.10.12 at 2:11 am ET|
It wasn’t exactly what you would’ve expected after his team lost to the Sixers, 106-100. Doc RIvers was answering questions about what went wrong and toward the end of his five minute session with reporters decided to go off on a tangent about something that was really bugging him.
After the 106-100 loss to the Sixers Friday, Rivers was reminded that before the game he mentioned he might tweak the lineup when the team heads to Milwaukee and Chicago for games Saturday and Monday nights.
“I don’t know,” Rivers said. “We’ll see. We just finished this game so I’m not thinking about it [yet]. I will say this guys, this lineup stuff you talk about, it lasts for four minutes. Then we switch the lineup [with substitutions]. It’s the whole game that matters. I could start everybody on our bench [Saturday in Milwaukee]. You think it’s going to matter at the end of the game? Really, that’s the way I think. Clearly, you guys don’t think that’s way but that’s how I think.”
Rivers started the first two games with a lineup of Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass. In the next three games, including Friday against the Sixers, he started Jared Sullinger in place of Bass.
“I don’t think who starts matters,” Rivers continued. “It’s who plays well, who plays the most minutes. That’s what we’re focused on. I don’t think a guy in our locker room gives a flying crap about who’s starting.
“You have to find the right group. I think we have that. We’re just not playing well. The thing that’s hurting us right now is when Kevin is going off the floor. It happened again tonight. I thought in the second half it was better. Chris Wilcox gave us a lift. But right now, if y’all want to focus on something, that’s what you should focus on, is what are we going to do when Kevin goes off the floor in the first half. Every time we do it, and we have to do it, we’re struggling.
“And that’s on me. I have to figure that out because he’s not going to be on the floor. He’s coming out and he’s coming out at an exact time. We have to figure out something to make us click, and I think it’s on both ends. I don’t think it’s just our defense going down. I think our offense really struggles when he goes out. We have to do something about it.”
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