SEATTLE - While dealing with a three-game losing streak on the West Coast, the Celtics enjoyed the benefits of youth yesterday.
may take time for younger players - coach Doc Rivers includes Paul
Pierce, Ricky Davis, Jiri Welsch, Marcus Banks, Kendrick Perkins, and
the rookies in that category - to make progress and break bad habits.
But they tend to have short memories and great resiliency. That may
explain why, in the wake of a last-second 89-87 loss Thursday to the
Trail Blazers, the Celtics were far from depressed at practice at Seattle Pacific University yesterday.
sounded confident it could repeat its Nov. 21 performance and defeat
Seattle again. It didn't matter that Ray Allen and Co. boast the best
record (17-3) in the NBA.
The road-weary Celtics
also seemed unfazed by what transpired Thursday night before a national
television audience at the Rose Garden. Losing on a buzzer-beater by
Shareef Abdur-Rahim was simply filed away as part of the learning
"I like where we're
going," said Rivers. "I just don't like where we are right now. We
should be better. We've lost a ton of games that we've had a chance to
win. It hasn't gone our way. I'm not real concerned about it, to be
honest. This team is working on the right things and doing the right
things. Eventually, we're going to break through."
Pierce: "It's just little things that are hurting us every game. Once
we learn the little things that are going to [help us] in these close
losses, then we're going to be a tough team to beat, not only in the
Eastern Conference but in the whole NBA. A lot of teams really see what
we've got. When it all starts to come together, I think we're going to
be a beast over here."
then, the Green will have to take whatever satisfaction they can from
making small strides. Despite the result in Portland, very little about
the Celtics' performance disappointed Rivers.
saw good ball movement and effective defense. Even though Portland
outrebounded Boston, 62-39 (including 26-12 on the offensive glass), and
forced the Green into committing a costly shot-clock violation with 5.4
seconds remaining, Rivers said he "loved the way we played."
Every game is a learning experience. Did the Celtics
execute what they practiced? Were they unselfish on offense? Did they
avoid letting the offense dictate the defense? Did they maintain a fast
pace? Did the rookies gain valuable playing time? If the Celtics can answer yes to most of those questions, the night goes down as a success regardless of the outcome.
Against the Trail Blazers, the Celtics
exhibited better ball movement, just as they had practiced the day
before. If shots had fallen, they would have easily finished with more
than 20 assists. Though the Celtics
struggled offensively (39 percent from the floor), they still managed
to play solid defense, holding the Trail Blazers to 36 percent.
kept the game uptempo, outscoring Portland, 22-15, in fast-break
points. And finally, rookies Tony Allen and Al Jefferson saw significant
time and each finished with 8 points. Allen, who also had five
rebounds, scored all of his points in the opening minutes of the fourth
as he single-handedly helped Boston keep pace.
really has great confidence in these guys, putting them in tough
situations," said Pierce. "They're learning night in and night out. They
came in for the fourth quarter and sustained the lead out there for us,
kept the game close until the starters came back in the game. They're
gaining valuable experience for us in a nationally televised game.
They're coming along real well. As they continue to grow, I think this
team is going to continue to grow.
we can continue to grow and stay together, we can go a long way. If
everybody continues to get frustrated and we decide to be disappointed
with each other, it can go the wrong way. The key is for us to stay
together, regardless of what's going on."
For now, the Celtics (7-11) have time to grow. Growing pains are never fun, but they hurt a lot less in December than in March.
understand it's a long season," said Rivers. "You win four games and
you're in first place in our division. If at Game 60, we're still doing
this, then I would say their heads wouldn't be as high. They see there
are flashes out there. I think they're starting to enjoy playing with
each other more and more. That's what has got the spirit up. I don't
think they enjoyed playing with each other in the past. You can see them
"They're starting to like each other."