|Doc Rivers: Celtics are ‘probably behind’ where they need to be||11.05.12 at 5:43 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Doc Rivers can see what every Celtics fan sees. The team is 1-2 to start the season and not playing the basketball everyone envisioned when they brought back Kevin Garnett and added Jason Terry, Jeff Green, Leandro Barbosa and Jared Sullinger to a cast that lost to Miami in Game 7 of the Eastern finals last June.
“Probably behind,” Rivers said after Monday’s practice. “We have a great first half in Washington, that is what we needed to see. But I didn’t think we sustained it. I just think everyone is starting to figure out that, to be a good team, you have to actually work at it. And it’s hard work. You just don’t show up because you have good names on a piece of paper and become good. You have to work at it, and you have to work hard at it. And it’s exhausting.”
Is conditioning all that’s missing from the team’s trademark D?
“Yeah, but I think we’re in good enough condition to be a good defensive team. I think that’s more of the buy-in and the trust and the communication.”
The Celtics finished Monday’s two-hour practice with conditioning drills in 5-on-5 sets. Rivers is clearly concerned with his team’s ability to finish games defensively, after the Wizards erased two double-digit deficits in the fourth quarter only to have Paul Pierce save the game with a 3-point shot with under three minutes left.
The first half, when the Celtics raced to leads of 17-2 and 26-10, was a different story – one that after watching on film – made Rivers think the team is close.
“I thought we played defense, we got into the ball, there was ball pressure, there was talking,” Rivers said. “The first seven or eight minutes, [Washington] struggled to get a shot off, let alone score a basket. Then as the game went on, you can see us slowly moving away from it. I don’t know if that’s breaking old habits from other places, or if that’s conditioning. When you watch it on film, you think it’s a little bit of both.”
|Box and 2: Inside Celtics, Bucks and Wizards, oh my||at 2:39 pm ET|
— Called upon by Doc Rivers Friday night to protect the paint against the Bucks, when smaller lineups weren’t working, Darko Milicic played 4:30 of the first quarter. He missed his only shot — an air-balled baby left hook — and committed more turnovers (2) than he totaled rebounds (1) or blocks (0). Then, he didn’t play Saturday.
Kevin Garnett: “We’re still playing with the chemistry. We have different lineups in which Doc is playing with simultaneously, and we’re still working. No one said this was going to be an easy process.”
Translation: “The Darko Experiment is called that for a reason. Let’s just hope it doesn’t blow up in our face.”
— Over the weekend, Brandon Bass finished a minus-11 in 40:52 without Jared Sullinger on the floor. The Celtics outscored the opponent in just two of his 10 stints sans Sullinger — by one in the final 3:53 of the first quarter against the Wizards and by two Terry free throws in the final 1:35 of that game. Without Bass on the floor, Sullinger finished a plus-14 in 33:29, and the C’s outscored opponents in five of those eight stints. (In case you were wondering, the two played 14:40 together, finished a minus-9 and only outscored opponents once in six stints.)
Rivers (via the Herald): ‘[Sullinger] brings a different component, more importantly rebounding. He knows how to play without the ball. He’s a great passer. He blends well with our starting group.’
Translation: “Sorry Brandon, but you’re going to see a lot more Sullinger in the starting lineup.”
|Doc Rivers doesn’t want Rajon Rondo ‘pacing himself’||at 2:18 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Sometimes, too much of a good thing is not healthy for a basketball team.
Well, take a look at Rondo’s minutes and what the Celtics expect from him and you could make the argument they should be just as concerned.
In the first three games, Rondo has played 44, 41 and 41 minutes, averaging 41.5 minutes per contest, nine minutes over his career average per game. Yes, it’s just a three-game sample so far and yes, that average includes a season of 23.5 minutes in his rookie year in 2006-07 and 29.9 the next, when he led the Celtics to an NBA title running the point. But still, one look at Rondo’s lean body and you see the need to preserve the Rolls Royce of the Celtics engine for all 82 games.
But Rivers took it a step further after practice Monday when he said it’s not the number of minutes but how Rondo is playing on the court that he has to watch closely. Rivers wants to be the one pacing Rondo from the bench, not Rondo himself.
“I’m concerned but not as far as him getting tired but I don’t want him to save himself on the floor,” Rivers said. “There’s a minutes number for him. We don’t know what it is yet. We’ll figure it out where he can play his minutes at full pace instead of knowing he’s going to be on the floor too long and then he starts pacing himself. We need him to be a fast, quick, aggressive player.”
And the number?
“I think it’s 39, 38 but it’s not much lower than 40 but it’s in that area,” Rivers added.
Rivers has said in years past just what a physical drain it is for a guard like Rondo to not only run the offense but play top-end defense that is a staple in the Celtics scheme.
The answers right now off the bench are Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa, with the latter coming to Boston in late October as Danny Ainge realized the need for ball-handling depth on the roster. Courtney Lee can also help lighten the load, switching from his starting role as shooting guard to the point.
But the biggest help of all will come when Avery Bradley comes back with two healthy shoulders – likely in December – to take a big defensive burden off Rondo.
Until then, Rivers will be watching Rondo very closely.
10. No self-respecting team loses to the Wizards: “I had said [Saturday night] was a must-win. The reason is when you play a team like Washington, which has had some injuries and might be short a man, you definitely want to win these games. These are the type of games you just have to win.”
9. The difference between Sully and Bass was negligible: “I know the starting lineup was changed a little bit with Jared Sullinger starting and Brandon Bass coming off the bench, but really I didn’t notice that much. Everyone who came into the game tonight was focused on our defensive coverages.”
8. Terry is clutch, according to Terry: “I was happy to contribute in our win with two free throws down the stretch. It’s definitely in my DNA to make big shots, especially when the game is on the line, whether that’s with free throws or making a play or an assist or a shot to win or tie the game — that’s just who I am.”
7. The JET hasn’t quite arrived in Boston yet: “I’m still trying to get comfortable within the structure of the team. I’m a work in progress. I’m very optimistic. I know we have the making of a championship team. I know we have to continue to grow and there are going to be some speed bumps along the way.”
6. For now, the Celtics are going to struggle against elite teams: “The Heat are the champions, and the core of that team has been together and had two full seasons for the most part. They’re going to know each other very well, while we’re still trying to figure it out. We’re going to struggle in a situation like that.”
|Rajon Rondo: ‘I’ve got to do a better job on the ball’||11.03.12 at 1:48 am ET|
Rajon Rondo pointed to himself as one reason for the Celtics 0-2 start to the season. Rondo finished with 14 points and 11 assists but couldn’t get his teammates into any consistent offensive rhythm for a second straight game as the Celtics lost their home opener, 99-88, to the Bucks Friday night at TD Garden.
“Just trust one another defensively,” Rondo said when asked what’s missing in the Celtics’ game right now. “It starts with me. I’ve got to do a better job on the ball and go from there.”
As was the case against the Heat, the Celtics were again beaten in transition throughout the game.
“I don’t know [if we trust each other defensively],” said Rondo. “I mean, we can say we do, but on the court it shows, we’re not pulling in weak side. But it’s a lot of things. We’ve got to start from somewhere. The good thing about it is we could start [Saturday].”
The Celtics play the Wizards on Saturday night in Washington.
|Doc Rivers: ‘I don’t see the urgency yet’||at 1:39 am ET|
Doc Rivers admitted a couple of things Friday night after his team lost in stunning fashion to the Bucks, 99-88, in their home opener at TD Garden.
The Celtics coach doesn’t think his team has played with any urgency this season. And on Friday, he had to – for the first time in his recent memory – remind his team to actually pass the basketball.
Those are two developments no one could have foreseen with this particular veteran Celtics group after two games and two losses.
On Friday night, the Celtics didn’t allow 100 points like the 120 Tuesday night in Miami. But they still allowed the Bucks to get out in transition easily and they were having all sorts of problems consistently defending the low post as they were outscored 52-36 in the paint.
‘I don’t know if I’m upset, concerned ‘ I’m all those, probably,” Rivers said. “We just ‘ I don’t see the urgency yet. At times think we thought we would show up, because we have a lot of players on the team, and that would mean we would win. And when you make this many changes, I think our guys have to understand you have to invest, invest into the team to become a team. And I don’t think we’ve done that yet. I think we will. I think guys are, their minds ‘ their spirit is right; we’ve got to get the minds right too.
“But I thought offense was bad too. I thought we fumbled, I thought we had no rhythm. And we haven’t graduated to the point where you can play bad offense and stay defensively. You know what I mean? So I thought it was both; I thought our defense was bad all night. But I thought our offense ‘ you know, that thing where you start struggling on offense, you get down, and then you start not playing defense ‘ I thought that was a lot of it. I thought early on we got open shots, then I thought we pressed, I thought we little ‘every man for himself,’ and then selfishly I thought every guy was trying to win the game for us. But I thought there was very little ball movement, extra passes. I thought each guy, when he tried to make the play, I thought that was out of frustration. I really thought they were pressing.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|Kevin Garnett’s ‘pack of hyenas’ Celtics speech||at 1:07 am ET|
Needless to say, Kevin Garnett didn’t enjoy the Bucks embarrassing his Celtics a few nights after the Heat dropped 120 on their defense, so he privately addressed his teammates in the locker room afterwards.
“When we came in the locker room, KG spoke,” Courtney Lee said. “What he said is that we’ve got to go into every battle like we’re the underdog, like we have nothing, like we’re scrapping. He used the hyena as an example. The hyena, when they go for the kill, they eat in packs. And that’s how we’ve got to do it. We’ve gotta go out there, have each other’s backs, play for each other, make the right plays and be on the same page.”
Garnett, Lee and even the very vocal Jason Terry wouldn’t go into much detail about the postgame speech about hyenas, but it’s safe to say it wasn’t anything like Zach Galifianakas‘ wolf pack soliloquy from “The Hangover.”
(If it was, it might’ve gone like this: “You guys might not know this, but I consider myself a bit of a loner. I tend to think of myself as a one-man hyena pack. But when I met Rondo, I knew he was one of my own. And my hyena pack, it grew by one. So there were two of us in the hyena pack. I was alone first in the pack, and then Rondo joined in later. And a month ago, when Rondo introduced me to you guys, I thought, ‘Wait a second, could it be?’ And now I know for sure, I just added nine more guys to my hyena pack. Fifteen of us hyenas, running around the Garden together, in Boston, looking for strippers and cocaine. So tonight, I make a toast!”)
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