Pierce Vows to Keep C's on Track
January 10, 2004
STAYING ON TRACK IS VITAL PIERCE VOWS TO HELP TEAM KEEP ITS FOCUS
Part of the Paul Pierce competitive mantra is that games are "mostly mental." Translation: Players need to keep their focus on the task at hand and not become distracted by trades, injuries, and other issues. Considering all that has happened to the Celtics this season, it is a good approach for the captain to have.
Director of basketball operations Danny Ainge has made two major moves, leaving only two players (Pierce and Walter McCarty) who were with Boston all last season. Raef LaFrentz underwent season-ending knee surgery. And on Tuesday, Vin Baker was suspended for three games and fined.
"You've just got to look at it as part of the job," said Pierce of dealing with distractions. "Nothing is going to be always smooth sailing. You're going to have your distractions. You're going to have your trades where a lot of things can really sidetrack you. But me, as an individual, as a captain of this ball club, I've got to be the one rock on this ball club to make sure that people don't get distracted by trades, people don't get distracted by this [Baker suspension].
"In the beginning of the year, we set goals to be one of the best teams in the East and make the playoffs . . . I've got to be the guy on the team that makes sure we stay focused no matter what goes on on a day-to-day basis. It's going to be a bumpy road, but hey, we've just got to get through it."
According to Mark Blount, these situations will only serve to toughen the team.
"Guys who don't know perseverance will learn it this year because this has been a very long year and there's still a lot more games to play . . . Everybody's got to step up now. Everybody's got to pick their game up. Raef is down. Vin's down, so everybody's got to pick up their game." Rotation in motion
Jim O'Brien continues to figure out how he wants to manage his rotation. Last night, he inserted Chris Mihm into the starting lineup in place of Walter McCarty. Mihm finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes, though O'Brien wasn't pleased with his 5 fouls. McCarty scored 12 points in 32 minutes. "[The change] gives us a guy [McCarty] that I'm real comfortable with coming off the bench," said O'Brien. "It gives us a [different] look. It gives us more size. Hopefully, it will make us more competitive on the glass." Since arriving in Boston, Mihm has worked toward earning a place in the starting lineup. "I was excited to get the starting nod," said Mihm. "I wanted to come in and make the most of my mintues. I got in foul trouble, but I kept myself ready on the bench. When I was out there, I was just trying to make things happen." . . . The Celtics had six blocks, two each for McCarty, Blount, and Mihm.
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