|Leandro Barbosa understands when you play defense ‘everything comes automatic’||11.27.12 at 3:54 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Leandro Barbosa has heard the time-tested expression in basketball over and over: defense wins championships. Now, after nine full seasons in the NBA, the 29-year-old finally is on a team that believes it.
Growing up in Brazil and playing his formative NBA seasons in Phoenix, Barbosa was all about getting to the basket at all costs but the defensive side of his game was admittedly not a priority. When he signed with the Celtics on Oct. 18, all of that changed.
“It’s different,” Barbosa said after practice on Tuesday. “Especially, for me, I came in late. I’m trying to work really hard to pick things up really quick. I’m happy to be involved, and we’re doing better. Hopefully, next game we’ll do even better.
‘I feel great. I think the most important thing is to feel comfortable. I think I’m feeling that right now. The coaches talk to me in a lot of different ways, in an offensive standpoint and an offensive standpoint. I’m just enjoying it right now.’
Barbosa said the biggest change in his philosophy came from the coaching staff.
‘I think this is the first team that is a defensive team, and I’m happy because I know that I have to definitely be better on the defensive end,” Barbosa said. “From where I come from, we don’t play defense, and I’m talking about Brazil. So, we’re getting better. I’m very happy and getting myself better.
‘What I learned, when you play defense, everything comes automatic. Especially, on this team we have so many weapons, I don’t think we don’t have to worry about offense. To go to the championship, we have to play better defense. That’s what we’re looking for and what we’re working for.’
|Jeff Green: ‘Being aggressive’ turns out to be his niche||11.24.12 at 9:47 am ET|
Green went out and make Rivers look very smart as he scored 17 points and showed a driving and cutting game not seen in his game this year as the Celtics beat the Thunder, 108-100, Friday night at TD Garden.
‘I was aggressive, attacking the rim,” Green said. “Just trying to make plays, and you know got to the free throw line a couple times. Got an and one, just being aggressive that’s what I gotta do. I just gotta find my niche and I just gotta to work at it and continue to stay positive and continue to be aggressive.’
The reason Rivers wanted Green to play instinctively was because he knows how good he can be when plays break down.
“I thought Jeff Green was spectacular,” Rivers said. It’s funny, I think the two plays that I called for him. He didn’t score on those. He scored on all the plays that wasn’t his and that’s what we kept telling him he has to do. Stop waiting for us to call it, go get it, and I thought he did that. A lot of good efforts.”
‘You still gotta do what you gotta do and you do whatever it takes for your team to win,’ Green said.
Green even helped out on defending Kevin Durant, guarding him when the second unit was on the floor.
‘He still got 29 [points], Green said out of humility. “We just tried to make every shot for him tough. He’s [darn] near seven feet, but the handle that he’s got and the way he can shoot it’s tough. So you just gotta make every shot for him tough.’
Making him work defensively-‘You got to, you got to. You gotta make him play both ends. We got him in foul trouble. We gotta be aggressive, we can’t allow him to relax at all on the defensive end.’
What did Green learn about how good the Celtics can be?
‘We are one hell of a defensive team when we are in sync and that’s how we gotta be each game,’ Green said.
|Doc Rivers: ‘We played with great force’ in win over Thunder||11.23.12 at 11:42 pm ET|
Doc Rivers watched his team register its most significant win of the season Friday night, overcoming an early nine-point deficit and withstanding a late charge to beat the defending Western Conference champion Thunder, 108-100, at TD Garden.
‘The biggest difference is this time they scores 100 and we scored 108,” Rivers said, referencing the 112-100 loss to the Spurs on Wednesday at the Garden. “It’s the same game really. I told the guys at halftime and even after the game, that was the Celtics. That’s the team that we’ve been looking for, but can we continue to do it. We’ve got to do it over and over again. I thought there were some mistakes made, we kept playing. There were some runs, we kept playing. They made a run, we kept playing. No hanging heads, yelling at each other. We played through all clutter, it was like a clutter free game, for us. That’s who we have to be.”
“I thought Jeff Green was spectacular tonight,” Rivers said. “It’s funny, I think the two plays that I called for him. He didn’t score. He scored on all the plays that wasn’t his and that’s what we kept telling him he has to do. Stop waiting for us to call it, go get it, and I thought he did that tonight. A lot of good efforts. I thought our bench was huge. I thought [Leandro] Barbosa, it’s funny he didn’t score a point, and I thought his defensive pressure was extremely effective tonight. He has that reputation of being an offensive player. What we have found since getting him, he’s a heck of a defensive player. He has the ability to put pressure on the ball. That’s something we didn’t know. So again, we’re still discovering guys on our team, but that was a good effort.
‘We just need to play right. It’s great to beat Oklahoma, they were in the finals last year, and they’re the team to beat, I guess, in the West. But it was more how we played. We played with great force tonight. I thought that was the difference.”
|Kendrick Perkins on Paul Pierce: ‘He’s got a lot of tricks’||11.23.12 at 11:32 pm ET|
Perkins was witness to Pierce’s greatness again on Friday night as the Celtics captain went 4-of-6 from long range and finished with 27 points in Boston’s 108-100 win over the Thunder at TD Garden.
‘He’s got a lot of tricks,” Perkins said. “That’s the reason he’s been scoring the ball like he has for years. Got a lot of tricks man. He did a great job tonight of just playing smart. He’s moving well and it looks like he’s in great shape, he’s doing his job’
Perkins was held to five points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes for the Thunder in his return to Boston.
‘Yeah, it does (feel strange) but at the same time we’re both out there trying to get wins and it’s over with now,” Perkins said. “You can’t change the past’
|Doc Rivers on Kendrick Perkins: ‘You can’t put a number on identity or perception’||11.23.12 at 8:22 pm ET|
“He’s tough,” Rivers said. “He’s good. He’s a good defender. I’m looking at their whole team. I haven’t thought about the one guy more than the sentimental stuff.”
Then Rivers articulated exactly what it is that the 7-foot center brings to any team he’s on. Call it the “scowl” factor.
“Perk has never had big stats,” Rivers said. “That’s not why you have Perk on your team. You can’t put a number on identity or perception. There is a number but I don’t know what it is but Perk gives the team that.”
|What Doc Rivers sees is a lot more than just the stat sheet||11.22.12 at 8:13 am ET|
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.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|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.”
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