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Thursday, November 22, 2012
Doc: 'We've got to play smarter'

By Chris Forsberg

Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesCeltics coach Doc Rivers sees plenty of areas for improvement with the Celtics.
The Celtics indulged in the Thanksgiving holiday, taking Thursday off after starting this week with back-to-back losses. Boston gets back to work on Friday with a visit from the Oklahoma City Thunder and, maybe after catching some of the gridiron action on Turkey Day, point guard Rajon Rondo likes the opportunity to put two disappointing efforts against the Pistons and Spurs behind the team.

"We don’t think too much about [a poor performance]," said Rondo. "The game is over, we have to try to bounce back. The best thing about the league is that you don’t have to wait a week to play another game."

Celtics captain Paul Pierce acknowledged Boston's defensive woes during Wednesday's loss to the Spurs and suggested he wants to see more fire from a team that's lost its defensive identity early in the 2012-13 season.

"We all have to look at each other in the mirror, it’s not just one particular person -- it’s the starters starting out, it’s the guys on the bench, it’s a team game. We gotta take it personal as a team and go out there and do something about it."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said more intensity is great, but it has to be harnessed properly and it must be combined with a renewed focused on executing the game plan in order for Boston to correct its lingering issues, particularly on defense.

“I think we’ve got to do our coverages better, just bottom line," said Rivers. "Harder and all that -- that sounds great. That’s what everyone says when you lose: 'You’ve got to play harder.’ Well, we’ve got to play smarter, we have to know our coverages better, and, when that happens, everybody is on the same page and it allows our rotations to be freer, it allows our bigs to get back to the paint."

Rivers sneaked home to Orlando, Fla. for Thanksgiving, but said he'd be right back to work on Thursday evening. It's likely he spent those five distraction-free hours in the air feasting on game film and trying to figure out the reasons for Boston's defensive inconsistencies.

What would he like to tighten up before Friday's game against the Thunder?

“A lot," said Rivers. "Like not letting a team score 112 points [like San Antonio did Wednesday] would be one. Actually, I thought our transition D was below average [Wednesday]... we’re getting back, but we’re not getting matched up. That’s our issue. Guys are running back, so that’s No. 1. Our pick-and-roll defense has got to improve. Right now teams are picking on us in our pick-and-roll D, so that has to improve.”