Celtics Need to Play Tougher aganist Ben and Rasheed

Celtics Need to Play Tougher aganist Ben and Rasheed

January 7, 2005

WALTHAM - Doc Rivers could not remember exactly when the Celtics last played the Pistons. And he wasn't exactly looking for a way to refresh his memory after practice yesterday afternoon. With Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, and Co. in town tonight at the FleetCenter as the Celtics put their five-game home winning streak on the line, some games might best be forgotten. For the record, Detroit trounced Boston, 100-88, last Sunday at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

"They really pushed us around, showed us what the champs are all about," said Paul Pierce. "I think we're a better team than what we showed."

   It wasn't pretty watching the Celtics allow the Pistons to score 100 points. At the time, Detroit ranked 28th in the league in points per game at 89.6. It was the 11th straight game Boston allowed an opponent to score 100 points or more, which in part explains why Rivers made defense the focus of yesterday's workout. Also, Rivers believes defense is the key to defeating a defense-oriented team like Detroit. That, and a lot of toughness.In summing up what happened the first time around against the Pistons, Rivers said, "We were soft. Even though they only scored 100 points, they should have scored 190. We were horrible. We were horrible with our effort, our rotations, with our toughness. They had a ton of guys looking us down, if you know what I mean. After they scored, staring at us, standing over us, knocking us down. I just didn't appreciate our effort in that game."

Payton healthy

Gary Payton will be available for all four quarters of tonight's game, a difference from the last time, when he strained his hamstring in the first quarter and continued to play until early in the third. The veteran point guard returned to action against Golden State Wednesday and participated in a full practice yesterday.

"I think he's fine," said Rivers. "If he can go through this practice and we were trying to string things out where the guards had to rotate and sprint, and I don't know if he took a break. If he did, it was a little break."

Rotation talk

If you like watching rookie Tony Allen and second-year big man Kendrick Perkins play, then stay tuned. Rivers is trying to find both more time.

"Perk, I've got to get more minutes to, and Tony Allen, even though he's in our rotation, has to play more minutes," said Rivers. "His plus-minus is starting to grow. His effort and energy is so good that it's good to have him on the floor."

Expect Perkins to become a more regular part of the rotation, though it will be tough when that pairs him with rookie Al Jefferson.

"The tough part with Perk is when you have Perk and Al," said Rivers. "Like [tonight] there's going to be a stint at some point where Perk and Al are on the floor with the world champion Detroit Pistons and Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, or [Antonio] McDyess. There's a chance [the Pistons] are going to enjoy that. But there's a chance our young guys are going to show they can compete with that. At some point, that's the way it's going to be maybe a year, two years from now anyway. So, they have to learn. Why not learn against the best?"

Pitching in

In an effort to aid victims of the recent tsunami in southeast Asia, the players, executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge, Rivers, and the assistant coaches announced yesterday that they will donate more than $40,000 to the Red Cross. That donation will be matched by the ownership group. Also, Pierce and Payton will donate $1,000 for every assist they record over the next two games against Detroit and Chicago. These funds are in addition to donations being made by fans. Tonight is the last night money will be collected at the FleetCenter. The Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation will make a donation and will match donations made by the fans.

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