March 19, 2002
Just because Jim O'Brien takes one game at a time doesn't mean he can't plan practice a day in advance.
Even before the Celtics lost to the Blazers last night, the coach had decided that today's workout would focus on defense, an area in which he has been less than pleased recently. According to O'Brien, limited practice time has caused some "slippage" over the last two weeks. Also, working Rodney Rogers and Tony Delk into the system has taken away some opportunities to fine-tune the defense.
In their last 11 games, the Celtics have held only two opponents to less than 40 percent shooting: Detroit (twice) and Orlando. Portland shot 47.3 percent last night.
"At this point in the year, if you're not practicing a lot - which we are not - I think you lose repetitions and as a result you have some game slippage," said O'Brien. "You have to find a way whenever you can, if legs will allow, to zero in on it.
"The practice time that we have had, we're trying to get two relatively new guys [integrated], force-feeding them offense and defense. You spend that much time just trying to learn things, then you don't get as much practice time as you want in specific areas, and that's hurt our defense." Thought process
With his team trailing by 4 and 34.1 seconds to go, O'Brien told his players not to foul. It was a decision that surprised many, including the Blazers. "We thought they'd pressure us for a steal and then foul if they didn't get one," said Scottie Pippen. "They let too much time slip away." O'Brien had his reasoning, and it went like this: "We're down 4 and we have a 20-second timeout to go. They have the ball in [Damon] Stoudamire's hands. He's an excellent foul shooter. The only chance of winning the game is to trap and steal. To be down anywhere from 4-6 points with 20 seconds to go and one 20-second timeout doesn't make any sense to me. The only chance was to try to trap them and make the steal and go down and score. Then, anything can happen." . . . The way the schedule broke, the Celtics were pitted against the two hottest Western Conference teams - San Antonio and Portland - one right after the other. The Spurs beat Boston Saturday night for their ninth straight victory. The Blazers now have won 15 of 16 and are 10-3 on the road against East teams. Rising to occasion
Portland again was without Dale Davis (two-game league suspension) but Shawn Kemp filled in well, averaging 16.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 41 minutes in the two games. He had 12 points (all in the first quarter) and 11 rebounds in 39 minutes against the Celtics. "Shawn was big," said Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks. "He was major league. He got off to a great start and helped set the tone." . . . Here's what Bonzi Wells had to say to referee Sean Corbin after being called for his fourth foul, a charge against Tony Delk: "Why'd you call that? You know that [guy] can't guard me." . . . The Celtics are 2-7 against the Big Six from the West, with games remaining against the Lakers, Dallas, and Minnesota . . . Fans started to leave with 38.4 seconds left and the Celtics down by 6. Had these people not seen this team all year? . . . A couple of reminders: The Celtics-Pistons game Sunday in Detroit has been moved to noon for an NBC broadcast. And when Boston plays Cleveland tomorrow, it will be Paul Pierce Bobblehead Doll Night at the FleetCenter. The first 5,000 fans through the turnstiles will receive one of the collectibles . . . Kedrick Brown turned 21 yesterday, but just because he's legal, it doesn't mean he'll get more playing time. He has had six straight DNP-CDs.