Howard Smith/US Presswire
The fourth quarter belonged to the likes of Rob Kurz during Monday's blowout in Philadelphia.At least they got some cheesesteaks.
There's little else the Celtics can pluck from their trip to Philadelphia, where Boston got frustrated early on during Monday's exhibition tilt against the 76ers and wound up on the shellacked side of a 107-75 decision at the Wells Fargo Center.
Sure, it's the preseason and the Celtics played without Kevin Garnett (or any of his typical intensity). That said, the 76ers didn't have offseason big-splash acquisition Andrew Bynum, and they didn't seem detoured in the least. Boston carelessly turned the ball over 21 times, with 14 of those giveaways coming before intermission when Philadelphia built a 14-point halftime lead.
Despite losing for the third time in four preseason games, Rivers wasn't about to flip over any tables in the visiting locker room.
"I get upset, but, listen, I'm not going to use any bullets or whatever you want to call it now," Rivers told reporters in Philadelphia. "You kind of wait. But I think it's a good lesson for us. Some of our guys, I thought, got frustrated early because other guys forgot plays or didn't know things, and I think that's a lesson too.
"You've got to be able to grind a game. We're going to play 82 regular-season games, and I guarantee you we're not going to be great in all of them. But you can still win the game if you have mental toughness. Today, I just thought we started out OK, the game was kind of close, and then things went wrong and we kind of caved in quick, and I told them that's not a good sign."
To Rivers' credit, he didn't try to lean on the absence of Garnett to explain Boston's lackluster play.
"Kevin always makes a difference, clearly, but I think the way we mentally approached the game today, on a whole -- what did we lose by? With Kevin we'd have lost by 22. We still would have lost the game," said Rivers, who added, "Today we just kind of showed up. I thought we had poor intensity throughout, and that's obviously unacceptable."
So what can Boston hang its hat on?
Rivers continued to heap praise on Jared Sullinger's on-court IQ, even after maybe his most unremarkable performance of the preseason (the rookie started and chipped in nine points and five rebounds over 23 minutes). Brandon Bass connected on 5-of-9 shots for 11 points off the pine, showcasing again his ability to provide offense even if utilized in a reserve role. Camp invite Rob Kurz chipped in a couple of buckets (5 points) and a couple of rebounds in 10 fourth-quarter minutes.
Otherwise, it was pretty bleak. Boston hasn't been able to lean on its defense, whether that's preseason rust or lack-of-chemistry combinations on the court, there's strides to be made at that end of the floor.
"It's funny, I thought the one game we played with an attitude was the second game in Europe because we lost the first game," Rivers said of the team's lone preseason win, which came in Milan. "I thought the New York game [Saturday against the Knicks in Hartford], second quarter we came out and played good defense, and then, other than that, we've been pretty poor defensively."