BOSTON -- After Friday's win over the Atlanta Hawks, the Boston Celtics are now 14-4 since Rajon Rondo went down with a season-ending ACL injury. They endured the loss of two other key players since then and survived a trade deadline in which many armchair general managers screamed for their veterans to be flipped for future assets.
With the way this team has rallied from adversity, is there something special going on here?
"We're working hard. We haven't gave in to the bull---- --- critics," barked Kevin Garnett. "We're working hard, we're grinding, we're showing our character. Our coach [Doc Rivers] is a grinder himself and his team is just that. We're not looking for any handouts or sympathies or anything like that. We don't expect anybody to give us nothing and we're going out and working hard, gaining everything we're getting. We're giving ourselves a chance every night. We're leaning on each other, we're playing together. I can probably better answer your question later on in the postseason, see where we're at. It's still early."
Boston has now won five games in a row to move seven games over .500. The Celtics currently sit tied with Atlanta for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, and Boston has eyes on climbing higher.
Rivers doesn't get too caught up in what his team is accomplishing at the moment, but admits it's been a fun team to coach.
“I don’t know if I’m surprised at anything with this group of guys," said Rivers. "We just put them in there and hope they do well, honestly. I don’t look at it that way, I mean you can, but I just think they should. I really do. When they’re in, their job is to do what we do. And we talk about that. Doesn’t matter who’s on the floor.”
Read on for some more notes from Friday's game:
* WORKING OVERTIME: The Celtics played their franchise-record 11th overtime game of the season on Friday night, having already surpassed the previous record of nine set by the 1950-51 and 1953-54 teams. Boston's 16 total overtime sessions is also a franchise record, topping the 14 extra frames played by the 1953-54 squad. Boston improved to 7-4 this season in overtime games. Asked how the Celtics continue to win these games, Paul Pierce said: "Just the resiliency of this team, never getting down when we lose leads or when teams come back. We just continue to fight."
* TRIPLE THREAT?: Garnett connected on his second 3-pointer in as many outings during Friday's game, emphatically motioning to the crowd after a first-quarter triple. He is now 2 for 14 beyond the arc this season. Asked if he is a 3-point shooter, Garnett playfully noted, "I am not," before departing the arena Friday. A year ago, Garnett humorously sounded off after a similar uptick in 3-pointers, suggesting: "I can shoot 3s, OK. Let that go. I can shoot 3s. Y’all are acting all shocked like you ain’t seen a black guy hit a 3. The hell’s going on with y’all? I can shoot 3s, all right?"
* AUSTIN POWERLESS: Rivers' son, Austin, of the New Orleans Hornets, will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken hand suffered Wednesday in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Asked about the injury, coach Rivers said, "It’s a bummer, I thought he was playing great over the last six weeks. He was playing terrific. They were keeping him on the floor. The good part about it is now he knows he can play. He knows he can play well. He had 5-for-5, before he got injured. Then he took one shot with a broken hand, which tells you his mentality, right there. He thought he could make it. It happens, it’s late enough in the year and they are not going to playoffs that I just think it was important for him to be able to get it going before. If that hadn’t of happened, then it would be a tougher injury. But now it’s just another injury."