Just four days ago, playing without a resting Paul Pierce, Boston was blown out by 26 points, good for its second-worst loss of the season. Charlotte has the worst record in the NBA (14-50), so the Celtics were left scratching their heads, not being able to pinpoint why they performed so poorly, even without their captain.
"We came out and we didn't play the way we usually played," Courtney Lee said prior to Friday's practice. "I don't know for what reason, but we weren't executing, we weren't getting back on defense, and that's not us."
All they know now is they're not going to let it happen again on Saturday.
"Of course there's extra motivation," Lee said. "We lost to them pretty bad at their spot, they were laughing, they enjoyed it, so we've got to make sure we take care of home court and we'll return that favor to them."
The C's have already suffered two losses at the hands of the Bobcats this season, which doesn't sit well with a club striving to play its best basketball and win as many games as possible with the regular season winding down and playoff positioning up for grabs. While Tuesday's loss is probably enough of a reminder in its own right that the Celtics can't take Charlotte lightly, head coach Doc Rivers will mention to his club that the Bobcats have already stolen away two winnable games.
"No matter what our excuses are, they beat us two games," Rivers said. "One game they beat us soundly, and one game we kinda sputtered down the stretch. And no matter what, you say to them, 'They’ve beat us twice.' They are going to have great confidence against us. When you beat a team, they don’t care about the excuses, they know they beat you and that makes them a better team the next time they play you. When they beat you again, that makes them even a better team the next time you play them. So tomorrow they are going to play great, and we have to expect that and we have to try to beat them playing great."
Charlotte received a significant scoring boost Tuesday from Gerald Henderson, who erupted for a season-high 35 points on 11-of-19 shooting (12-of-12 from the free throw line). Lee said that while the Celtics' schemes weren't off in any way on Tuesday, he and Avery Bradley took Henderson's scoring fest personally. As such, it's safe to say Henderson should expect a healthy dose of intense one-on-one defense on Saturday, from both Lee and Bradley.
"Well, we're very focused," said Jason Terry of Saturday's rematch. "That was a game that we know we should have won going in there, even without Paul. But Paul's back and we're at home. As you know, we've been playing very well here at home and we want to protect our home court. And if you're going to be a champion, you have to beat teams like Charlotte very bad."
Since Kevin Garnett arrived in Boston in 2007, the Celtics have gotten the better of Charlotte more often than not (14-6), but the perpetually woeful Bobcats haven't always gone down lightly. With a 2-1 record against the Celtics this season, their confidence against Boston is probably higher than it's ever been. The C's will look to wipe that confidence away on Saturday and put the Bobcats behind them for the rest of the season.
"(Since I've been in Boston) they've played like they're a playoff team, which they're not," Lee said. "So we've just got to bring them back to reality on (Saturday)."
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