We're Just Playing Basketball

Asked if the Celtics could "burn out" after a such a hot start, Rivers replied, "We're just playing basketball. We're winning, but we're playing normal minutes. So, the question should be, if we played the same amount of minutes and lost, would we be burning out? No. So, if we're going to play the minutes, I think we should try to win the game, and that's what we're doing."


I said from the outset that I didn't expect the Boston Celtics to start the season the way they did last season. Bob Ryan echoed these sentiments, saying the Green wouldn't start 29-3, wouldn't go 25-5 against the West, and wouldn't sweep Texas.

There were three reasons to believe this.

1) The Celtics had something to prove last year, and they wanted to make a statement by proving it with an exclamation point. They won the championship. So what's left to prove this year, at least until the playoffs start?

2) The Celtics were tired, too tired to play great basketball, and maybe too tired to care. The players had a short offseason, and just weren't in the mood to run it up the flag pole again. Rajon Rondo pretty much conceded this point earlier in the season.

3) Great starts don't necessarily get you anywhere. Look at Dallas a couple of years ago, Portland in 1977-78.

4) Playing at a high level takes more out of you than playing like you don't care.

This last point really gets to the nub of it all, and it is this point that Doc Rivers directly challenges in the above quote. If you're gonna play 28-36 minutes (OT games to one side), does playing at a high level take no more out of you than phoning it in?

I'm gonna disagree with Doc on this one.

After the Celtics started 29-3 last year, they proceeded to lose three of four. After the All-Star break they lost three straight. Why? They weren't bringin' it. It's called a letdown. So while the Celtics may "just be playing basketball" on their current 12-game streak, they are also playing intense, statement-making basketball, the kind that is played by a team in three-team race for the best record in basketball.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the Celtics are just so good they show up and play at this level without much effort. Or maybe they are so well-conditioned that playing at full-throttle really doesn't make a difference. But I say it does, mentally for starters and physically as well.


Anonymous said...

they are conditioned to play that minutes, they need to play hard to keep their focus (no pistons attitude please) so i agree with doc: just play at your best and let the others wonder if they can try to contend...

also winning is the best medicine for all troubles could happen

Lex said...

Makes sense.

As long as they can play less than 36 minutes per game, I guess that's cool.

Lex said...

Bill Russell used to say, "Looks like we got a game on the schedule tonight, fellas. We might as well win it."

Anonymous said...

I think they've had a few statement games recently - Detroit Philly Portland Orlando but for the most part they haven't been that intense. It almost frightening the way they clamped down on these teams and just torn away after the half. For the sub/under .500 teams they haven't really done that which seems like an acceptable as long as they win those games and save the intimidation for teams they'll meet in the postseason.

Lex said...

This team has many facets to their personality, but at the core is an unshakeable confidence.

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