Practice report: Power of positive thinking

May, 8, 2010
5/08/10
3:58
PM ET
WALTHAM, Mass. -- A collection of news and notes after the Boston Celtics practiced Saturday at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint in advance of Sunday's Game 4 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Cleveland Cavaliers:

The rundown (a quick look at practice headlines)
* Power of positive thinking as Celtics return to practice floor
* Worst home loss in playoff history leaves odds against Boston
* Loose balls: Rivers ponders sending entire tape for review; Perk's restless

Power of positive thinking as Celtics return to practice floor



Celtics coach Doc Rivers and his troops employed the power of positive thinking Saturday on the heels of Boston's worst home playoff loss in franchise history.

During film review, Rivers asked his team what the closest a series could be after three games. The answer, of course, is 2-1, which is the deficit the Celtics are staring at after Friday's grisly 124-95 loss at the TD Garden. So how exactly did Boston plan to shake off a demoralizing defeat?

"You start with film, then you go right back on the floor," said Rivers. "Listen, it happens. It happened last night. You hate that it was at home. But it's one of those things. I did ask them, after three games, if a series is as close as possible, what would be the number? It'd be 2-1. Well, it's 2-1 and we're down -- or is it even? I don't know how you look at it. But we have to show up and win [Sunday], then get back to Cleveland."

As Rivers alluded, the Celtics can take the position that the series has played out to form if you operate under the mentality that the home team should win each game. Sure, each team has stolen a game on the opponent's home court, but had both sides simply taken care of business, the Cavs would still be up, 2-1, at this point.

So if the Celtics ignore the fact that they gave away the homecourt advantage they had previously ripped away and fumbled away all the momentum in the series, then, yes, there's no tremendous reason to get too worked up over Friday's loss. And, given the final score of Game 3, the Celtics were perfectly willing to travel that route.

"To tell you the truth, today I was a Monday quarterback," said Kevin Garnett. "I critiqued myself, critiqued the tape. We came in, shared our views, and now the focus is on Game 4."

These Celtics aren't living in the past. Or at least they're trying not to.

"We let the game get away, but we gotta move on," said Kendrick Perkins. "Doc said it, we can’t live in the past. We've got a chance to tie it up, 2-2, and get back to Cleveland. I feel like it's a must-win for us tomorrow."

And after what he dubbed two "lousy" practices before Game 3, Rivers felt like the Celtics ended practice on the right foot Saturday.

"We had a good day today, and that was good," said Rivers. "It should be after [Friday]. That doesn't guarantee [a strong effort Sunday], but we had a great focus today -- focus in film was great and the limited work on the floor was phenomenal. That's how we have to stay. Stay in that mode and we can't relax. We can't take our eye off what we're trying to do."

Worst home loss in playoff history leaves odds against Boston



A handful of leftover notes from Boston's dreadful Game 3 performance:

The Celtics have played 292 postseason home games during their storied history, but Game 3's 29-point defeat was the worst loss on their home turf ... ever. Here's three more of the worst, along with how they fared in the next game:

2005 First Round -- Game 7 vs IND -- Lost by 27 -- Ended series
2004 First Round -- Game 3 vs IND -- Lost by 23 -- Lost Game 4 by 15 points
1972 Conference Finals - Game 1 vs NY -- Lost by 22 -- Lost Game 2 by 1 point

The Celtics went on to lose all three of those series listed above. Will Cleveland be the fourth? The stats certainly are not encouraging for the position the Celtics find themselves in for a couple of reasons.

1) The Cavaliers have never lost a best-of-seven series when leading, 2-1. Cleveland has won all five previous series when they've been in this position. 2) In NBA history, teams leading 2-1 in a best-of-seven series go onto win that series 82.3 percent of the time.

Of course, the Celtics spent all Saturday preaching how they're not living in the past, so they'll take their standard route and note that, while they can't change what's happened before, they can certainly affect the future. And that starts with Game 4.

Loose balls: Rivers ponders sending entire tape for review; Perk's restless



* Rivers couldn't resist a playful little jab at the foul discrepancy over the first three games. "I'm going to do what [Cleveland] did and send like 40 clips [to the league office for review]. I was going to send the whole game film in, but I figured that would take too long. No, I didn't send much. I do send a little bit in, but just a little." Rivers joked, but continued to stress that Boston needs to do a better job of getting to the line and being aggressive to get there.

* Like with his knee for much of the season, Garnett didn't care to chat about his health very long. Asked about how the midfoot injury held up in Game 3, he simply said, "I'm feeling good." The fact that both Garnett (right midfoot strain) and Perkins (right knee strain) were present and talked to the media, only reinforces the notion that both are healthy after being hobbled a bit earlier this week.

* Rivers on Shaquille O'Neal's big effort in Game 3: "I think Shaq stole [Rasheed Wallace's] Hot Tub Time Machine. No, he was terrific. Shaq had great energy. He made shots, hooks shots at the elbow, he was phenomenal. He had a hell of a game against us. He got into good position, but there were several were [Perkins] guarded terrific and he just made shots. We'll live with those. Then there were some where he was point blank and then he's pretty much unguardable."

* Kendrick Perkins noted that a lot of players didn't sleep well last night, acknowledging that he was one of them. "Guys know what we have to do. It's a veteran team. Guys were disappointed. A lot of guys didn't sleep last night, I was one of them. But there were no pep talks. Either you want it or not."

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Isaiah Thomas
PTS AST STL MIN
19.7 5.0 0.6 26.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsE. Turner 5.1
StealsM. Smart 1.4
BlocksT. Zeller 0.7