Boston Celtics: 2013Game40
Celtics coach Doc Rivers essentially threatened his team after Sunday's 103-88 loss to the Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. After winning a season-high six straight while rebuilding its confidence, Boston has lost three in a row to dip to 20-20 overall, and Rivers said a potential shakeup awaits if his team does not start playing with more intensity and consistency.
"I think this team wants everything easy," Rivers said. "They want the easy way out. They want to win easy. And I told them the only way you're going to win easy is you're going to have to play hard. The harder you play, the easier the games become. We're taking the wrong approach. I've got to either find the right combination, the right guys, or we're going to get some guys out of here. It's the bottom line. Because this group right now, they are not playing right. It's in them to play right. But right now they haven't been -- either because I'm not getting to them, or they are not getting to each other. But at the end of the day, either we've got to do that, or we've got to make changes."
So here's Boston's conundrum: When the Celtics play to their potential, they are pretty damn good. But, as Rivers stressed in his postgame outburst, the Celtics really have only strung together three consecutive solid efforts this season while beating playoff-caliber opponents in the Pacers, Hawks and Knicks to start the six-game winning streak earlier this month. Boston endured maddening lulls in play against the Suns and Rockets before topping the gritty-yet-woeful Bobcats to close out that stretch last Monday.
The Celtics promptly regressed amidst the hoopla surrounding Father vs. Son against New Orleans on Wednesday, then improbably coughed up a winnable game while falling to Chicago in overtime on Friday. While Detroit has played better basketball lately than its record might indicate, the Celtics came out flat, digging themselves a double-digit hole 4½ minutes in on Sunday. Boston rallied from an 18-point second-quarter deficit to tie the game before intermission, only to let Detroit race away.
And that left Rivers fuming.
Rivers spoke for a mere 90 seconds before ending his postgame press conference. Here's the transcript:
"[The start of game] was awful, we are playing awful. I’m clearly not doing my job with this team. And I’m serious, I’m not trying to take a bullet for the team. And I told them that. I said, ‘We've got to find something where every night, all 12 guys play the same way.’ We did it for three games in a stretch. I told them that games 4 and 5 in that [six-game] winning streak were garbage; we just won the game. I've got to figure that out. I told the guys that, I've got to figure it out. Because I don’t think the guys are honest with each other. I just don’t think we have committed to being a good basketball team.
"I think this team wants everything easy. They want the easy way out. They want to win easy. And I told them the only way you’re going to win easy is you're going to have to play hard. The harder you play, the easier the games become. We’re taking the wrong approach. I've got to either find the right combination, the right guys, or we’re going to get some guys out of here. It’s the bottom line. Because this group right now, they are not playing right. It’s in them to play right. But right now they haven't been -- either because I’m not getting to them, or they are not getting to each other. But at the end of the day, either we've got to do that, or we've got to make changes."
Asked if the six-game winning streak simply masked a need for changes, Rivers added, "I don’t know if we need changes, I’m saying that if we don’t get it right we may. The six-game winning streak was great, three of those six we played tremendous basketball. The other three we won the game. That’s it for me. Thanks."
Hop HERE to watch the full press conference video from Comcast SportsNet.
THE NITTY GRITTY
Greg Monroe (15 points, 11 rebounds) produced his fifth consecutive double-double while six Pistons finished with double figures in scoring. Andre Drummond did the most damage, converting 5-of-6 shooting into a team-high 16 points to go along with seven rebounds over 20 minutes. Will Bynum added 15 points and five assists (most of the alley-oop variety) off the bench for the Pistons. Rajon Rondo flirted with a triple-double while finishing with 8 points, 15 assists and 9 rebounds (but missed 12 of his 16 shots and committed a whopping nine turnovers). Courtney Lee (16 points) and Jeff Green (15 points) provided a nice bench spark, but the Celtics just didn't have it on a night they shot 39.8 percent from the floor (33 of 83). Boston never led in the game.
Even after rallying out of a monster first-half hole, the Celtics couldn't sustain their energy. Detroit put together a little 9-2 burst midway through the third quarter -- including three buckets at the rim -- to push its lead back to double digits at 68-58 with 5:23 to play in the frame. Boston got its deficit back down to four later in the third, but just couldn't get over the hump again, plagued by poor shooting and ill-timed turnovers.
C'S FIRST-HALF RALLY
The Celtics were down 18 early in the second quarter, but mounted a spirited comeback to tie the game before the intermission. Boston's Big Three returned to aid the turnaround as the Celtics embarked on a 10-0 run (in a span of just 79 seconds) that culminated with back-to-back triples from Lee to trim Detroit's lead to eight. Lee's free throws with 59 seconds to play in the first half tied the game at 48 (though the Pistons scored the final four points of the half to lead at the break).
WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics have lost three in a row and dip back to .500 at 20-20. Detroit has been a house of horrors and it lived up to its reputation as the Pistons opened the game on a 13-2 run and ran away again the one time Boston caught up. Thankfully for the Green, most fans were so despondent after the Patriots' loss in the AFC Championship Game, they probably never even bothered to flip over to check out the hoop carnage. The Celtics close out this brief two-game road trip on Tuesday in Cleveland before returning home for a visit from the New York Knicks on Thursday.
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