"We're a defensive team first, we've got to be better defensively. And how we play on defense affects how we play on offense. When it's not going on defense it's not on offense and vice-versa. Second and third efforts really hurt. First effort is there every time. But second and third effort, that's where you get loose balls and rebounds
"We've played better on the road than at home for some reason. It's 48 minutes of concentration, you have to play through the game. You've got to finish the race. Hopefully things will get back on track." The Celtics began appearing vulnerable at home in the playoffs last year, eliminated by Orlando in the second round despite having home-court advantage. This season, the
Celtics (36-21) have a 16-11 home record "The most troubling of all things to me is how we've performed at home," coach Doc Rivers said. "I don't care if you have injuries, or whatever, you should win at home." But Rivers has seen plenty of other bothersome behavior by the Celtics, who are 13-16 since Dec. 25
"We had a good practice [yesterday] and we needed it," Rivers said. "And we need a couple more of them. We know the issues and we've got to keep working on them - nothing wrong, we've just got to do it right.
I've been using variations of the word "sickened" lately, as in the Celtics make me sick to my stomach. Pierce calls this team a defensive team first, and, indeed, I believe we are ranked in the top five in terms of fewest points allowed per game.
But come on, people. Let's get real.
Is this team a defensive juggernaut? We know what defensive juggernauts look like. We watched one play more than 100 games two years ago. They won just about every defensive battle there was to win (except we usually turned the ball over more than the opponent), garnering flabbergasted praise from just about every team in the league. We outrebounded, outblocked, out-stole, out-rotated, out-helped, and out-hustled the opposition better than 90% of the time. Our defense made the opponent feel bad about themselves, made them feel hopeless. That's why LA gave up on 12/31/07 at Staples and again on June 17, 2008. We made them cry uncle because we were suffocating the life out of them.
So I disagree with Doc. F our home record. F our road record. The problem is that we don't play defense, or at least not championship-level defense. Even back when our record was 23-5, we weren't playing 2007-08 defense. The other night 92-year-old James Posey pulled down 9 rebounds in 25 minutes. Garnett can occasionally come close to posting numbers like that, but he's also 5 inches taller than Posey. Nobody on this team rebounds. We are second-to-last in the league. Pathetic, and uequivocally so.
On Thursday I'm going to post an article written by Bob Ryan in March of 1988. It's entitled "The 61-Game Exhibition Schedule." Bill Walton's return was thought to be imminent at the time, and, Ryan felt, his return rendered the first 61 games of the regular season meaningless. Never happened. Even if it had, Walton's return was no guarantee that the team would turn around it's fortunes.
And that's where I am today. The Celtics don't play defense and they don't rebound. Nobody's gonna wave a magic wand and make KG and Sheed 25 again. Nobody's gonna change Kendrick Perkins into Dennis Rodman. I'm not saying our goose is cooked. But the team needs to start showing some signs of improvement, some signs of life in the next five games or I say the season is kaput.
Think about how well we played during the regular season in 2007-08. That consistent, high-level of play made the jump to playoff-level basketball much easier. Right now the chasm separating the current state of Celtics basketball from playoff basketball is the size of the Grand Canyon. That's not a gap you close over night via a flip of the switch.
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