For C's, best course is to tread lightly
Boston engaged in a light 75-minute session that included film work, a walkthrough, and some shooting exercises. In the middle of a grueling November that sees the Celtics play 18 games in 30 days, Stevens knows he must preserve his squad over the first month of the season.
"I’ve never been a long-practice guy, over just getting done what we need to get done," said Stevens. "I’m not very smart, but I’m smart enough to know you can’t run them into the ground today."
Echoed Jared Sullinger, "Some of the guys wanted to be intense, but it’s less intense because we’ve got to think about the longevity of, not only our careers, but this season."
In film work, Stevens noted how, "we showed some things that were less-than appealing." There were plenty to pick from on Wednesday and Boston players were shown instances where Charlotte displayed more effort for 50/50 balls, or times when players were Boston simply got lazy with fundamentals.
Stevens is confident his team will have better energy on the floor Friday.
"I don’t see any hangover effect," said Stevens. "One of the things I’ve been pretty pleased with is they’ve responded pretty well through those first four games when things were not going our way. The response in that fourth game at Memphis was excellent, and then the response after that’s been good. I have no reason to think that they won’t respond from a competitive standpoint."
One thing Stevens tried to hammer home on Thursday was the idea of consistency, and how Boston can't give anything less than the all-out effort it often displayed during its four-game winning streak.
"We all get out of bed on different days and say, ‘Man, I can’t wait until tomorrow.' You can’t do that," said Stevens. "You have to get better every day. You have to strive to do that. That’s a hard thing to be. And it’s hard to be consistent. We used to have a saying, ‘Consistency is a mark of a champion.’ I believe that."
Avery Bradley, who had a couple notable missteps in key spots in the fourth quarter, seemed particularly hard on himself, but pledged to bounce back.
"Some games you might not come out there and play as hard. I feel like that's mental," said Bradley. "I don’t feel like I gave my all [Wednesday], and I'm going to make up for it [Friday]."
Teams have off nights, but the Celtics were particularly upset at themselves for allowing visiting Charlotte to set the tone early and simply outwork Boston for much of the night.
"I thought you could tell they were more aggressive to the basketball than we were," said Stevens. "Whether that shows itself in an assertiveness to come off the screen to get a shot, whether it means getting to a loose ball, whether it means getting to the offensive glass, whether it means just getting to a body first -- I just thought they were more aggressive than we were right out of the gates. I thought it was, for the most part, true throughout the game. You’re going to have games like that, but, nonetheless, you don’t want very many of them. I think everybody is frustrated by that."
Sullinger, who missed Wednesday's game due to a bone bruise on his right knee, lamented not being able to give his team a jolt. Sullinger is expected back for Friday's game visiting from the Portland Trail Blazers.
"I just through we were missing a little bit of energy," he said. "[The Bobcats] really outplayed us with energy. They played really hard yesterday. I just felt like I could’ve matched their toughness, matched their energy, and hopefully pick the team up."
How does this team stay more consistent?
"The pace," said Sullinger. "We’ve got to keep running our sets with pace. And defensively, we’ve got to turn some of those defensive stops into points [on the] fast break. I think that’s really what helps us out, when we get out and run. Those four games, we were running the ball. Every steal seemed like it was almost a layup. We’ve just got to keep pushing it up."
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