|Doc: ‘You’ve got to get your hands dirty’||03.01.10 at 4:46 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Following a day off Sunday to reflect on a stunningly bad performance in a 104-96 loss to the hapless Nets, Doc Rivers played the part of coach/philosopher/team psychologist on Monday at Celtics practice as his team prepared for Detroit on the road Tuesday night.
“I would like it not to but this is basketball and these are teams,” Rivers said of a possible wake-up call courtesy the six-win Nets. “It happens. We’re not used to it happening here but it happens. I’m not going to overreact to it. I can tell you that. But we just need work on it and we need to see it. Sometimes you can see it on film, sometimes you can see it on the floor and sometimes you’ve got to get your butt whipped a couple of times before you realize it’s a problem. I’m hoping all of those are going to help us.”
The Celtics are 36-21, a half-game behind third-place Atlanta in the Eastern Conference. But a closer check of the standings reveals that only the Cavaliers appear clearly out of reach. The Celtics have just one more loss than second seed Orlando in the East and Denver in the West. Dallas, Boston, Utah and Atlanta all have 21 losses.
[Click here to listen to Doc Rivers break down what's been bothering him and his team.]
“We’re a game behind Denver, three or four behind the Lakers. As bad as we ‘so called’ have played, we’re still in the thick of things, and that’s what you want at this time because we haven’t played well. In some ways, maybe we’re lucky in that way that other teams have faltered in other places as well. But we have a lot of games to get it right and we’re going to have to do that.”
But Rivers did isolate one area that needs to improve. The Celtics are just 16-11 at home. Of the 13 teams in the NBA with more losses on their home court, only No. 8 Portland in the West would be a playoff team.
“I don’t know why. Blame the wives.” Rivers joked before offering perspective. “It is troubling. Of all the things to me, even with the rebounding and everything, is how we have performed at home. If you ask me, the one thing that has bothered me more than anything is that because I don’t care what your injuries are, whatever, you should win at home. On the road, it becomes difficult. At home, you should win those games. And we haven’t.”
So, in short, the Celtics coach has the mother of all motivational jobs ahead of him, with a talented team that is clearly underachieving right now.
“It’s a great challenge,” he said. “Obviously, you would love it to be easy but if you want to do something special, I don’t think it’s ever going to be easy. You’ve got to get your hands dirty. You have to dive into it and see what you can come out with. It’s a good challenge. It really is.”
|Pierce on his return: ‘This is perfect timing’||at 2:05 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Paul Pierce practiced on Monday and said afterward he is ready to go for the team’s game in Detroit on Tuesday after missing the last three games with a sprained right thumb.
“I would have been back for the Cleveland game, please believe me, as much as I love to play against Cleveland, as much as I love to play against LeBron,” Pierce said. “I even went out there and shot before the Cleveland game because I wanted to be out there so bad. I don’t think I’m rushing back. I think this is perfect timing. My body feels good, my hand feels good and I’m ready to go.”
The Celtics won their first game without Pierce against New York last Tuesday before dropping home games to Cleveland and New Jersey.
|Perk out sick||at 12:58 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Kendrick Perkins did not practice on Monday and is not making the afternoon trip with the team to Detroit, according to the team.
Perkins, who played in the team’s loss to New Jersey on Saturday, became sick over the weekend, the latest player to battle flu-like symptoms. The Celtics play in Detroit on Tuesday before returning home for a game against Charlotte at TD Garden on Wednesday. Marquis Daniels and Paul Pierce had to miss parts of last week with flu-like symptoms.
“If he’s feeling better he’s going to fly up [Tuesday] to the game,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “Obviously, I don’t see that happening but if he’s feeling a lot better, we’ll have him do that. We just have so many guys that aren’t feeling well right now that we can’t afford to even have a guy around anybody else to let it start up again. We’re taking a different measure right now. We’re keeping all unhealthy people away from each other right now, even with injuries. Just stay away.”
If Perkins can’t go, Rivers said Wallace would likely start in Perkins’ place at center.
|Doc: ‘Those are the basketball gods punishing you’||02.27.10 at 5:34 pm ET|
Doc Rivers has been preaching to the Celtics all season long to avoid taking shortcuts on defense and to play with energy and purpose.
He warned that if they didn’t, eventually it would catch up to them.
Well, on Saturday — in a 104-96 stinker vs. the Nets — it didn’t just catch up to them, it barreled them over in stunning fashion on their home court in the form of a 5-52 team beating them soundly and thoroughly.
Perhaps most troubling from the final box score were the 41 free throws the Nets attempted, compared to a measly 11 for the Celtics.
Afterward, there was no hiding for the Celtics coach.
“Like I said before, I still believe in this team,” Rivers said. “I just know for a fact we’re not playing well. But I do believe in this team. But I don’t think you change just to change. I don’t think we need it. I think we need to change our approach and the way we play.
“And tonight you could see it early, even though [at the] beginning of the game we jumped out and after that you just — you know, we had that sense that ‘we’ll get back into it.’ And you know what happened? They actually did try. I thought our guys gave a great effort in the second half, but then they started making shots, and then we’d have the defensive breakdown with three seconds on the shot clock over and over again. Every time we got it down to six or four, a guy would make a 3, a bobbled ball would go to it. I talk about it a lot with our guys: ‘Those are the basketball gods punishing you; you have no right to get back in this game. I thought all those little breaks went to them, and I thought the basketball gods were saying that they deserve to go to you.’ … If you believe in that.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Third quarter wrap: Celtics vs. Nets||at 2:55 pm ET|
The third quarter featured the first energy moment of the game.
With just one second remaining on the shot clock on an inbounds play, Rasheed Wallace caught and fired a three-at the basket that just missed.
Brian Scalabrine rebounded and fired to an open Nate Robinson, who drilled a three of his own with 1:35 remaining and the crowd came to its feet. Moments later on missed shot by New Jersey, Robinson came down and put pack a missed shot and the Celtics were within nine.
But the quarter ended on a sour note as Scalabrine airmailed a three and the Nets led, 74-64. The combination of Courtney Lee and Brook Lopez is killing the Celtics. They have a combined 44 points.
|Movie critics||at 2:45 pm ET|
There was plenty of hype surrounding the debut of the HBO movie, “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals.” Our own Jess Camerato summarized it.
On Friday, Celtics coach Doc Rivers thought his team could learn something more from that film rather than tape of their meltdown on Thursday against Cleveland.
“I just thought it was a good thing to watch,” Rivers said. “I saw it in L.A. the night before the Laker game and I loved it. I thought there were a lot of great things in it for our team, not just for our team but anyone who plays basketball or anybody who likes sports actually.
“I thought [Friday] was a good day. I didn’t think we needed work. I thought we needed to be together. So instead of watching us play, and I don’t know if anybody wanted to watch that, instead of watching a horror film, I decided to watch a good film.”
It unfortunately did not have the desired impact – at least initially – as the Celtics came out and played one of their flattest games of the season. They allowed the 5-52 Nets to outscore them 44-24 in the first half and take command, leading by as many 14 midway through the third.
“I don’t know if it had any effect short term,” Rivers said. “But I just thought it was a good day for us.
“We’ll see. It’s really good. There’s a lot of team stuff in it and just a lot of good messages in it, and more than just the Magic-Bird thing. I thought Bird was phenomenal because I thought it captured him exactly as he was.”
|First Quarter Wrap: Celtics vs. Nets||at 1:40 pm ET|
The Celtics stayed true to form racing out to a 12-2 lead. Unfortunately, their second-half form also came out when they allowed the 5-52 Nets to go on a 16-6 run to tie the game at 18.
Like Thursday night, the Celtics were on fire from the floor, shooting a blazing 11-for-16 to start the opening quarter and finishing 12-for-19. Kevin Garnett made all four of his shots and finished with eight points.
Devin Harris, who is second on the Nets in scoring at 16.5 points a game, nearly had that many in the opening period, netting 11, including all six free throws.
Nate Robinson saw his most significant playing time in the first quarter in his third game with the Celtics. He came in for Rajon Rondo and played eight of the 12 minutes and scored four points.
Keyon Dooling drilled a three just before the first-quarter buzzer to give Nets a 29-27 lead.