Post-game Reactions

There has been a lot made about “mental toughness” in this postseason. I’m not a big believer in it, feeling that 9 times out of 10 time, the team with the best players and best gameplan will prevail, regardless of a team’s mental makeup.

However, I may be beginning to to change that mentality, after seeing the way these Boston Celtics have sucked the life and confidence out of their opponents this postseason.

It was seen in game 6 of the Cavs series, when Cleveland threw in the towel in the closing moments of the contest, even though the deficit wasn’t completely out of reach.

Then, came game 3 Saturday night, where the C’s did whatever they want on both ends of the floor for literally 48 minutes of that contest. Boston led big in both games of Orlando, but the Magic made a run in both contests to make it at least interesting in the closing moments.

There was no such run in game 3, just hopeless, defeated looks from the defending Eastern Conference Champions.

That defeated attitude has appeared to carry over for at least Dwight Howard into tonight. How so? I direct you to the 1:20 mark of his interview yesterday with Cheryl Miller below from yesterday’s practice. A full transcript of the comments and some thoughts on Howard, after the jump

Cheryl Miller: I’m going to say if, but if Boston closes out tomorrow night, how would you view this season?

Dwight Howard: Uh, well I think we had a great season. I don’t think the season is over with, but we had a great season. We did a lot of great things this year, we grew from the first half to the second half. We got a lot better. All you ask for with a new team is progress. We done that. We know we got a lot of work to do, but we had a successful season.

Miller: You still have one more game!

Howard: We still got one more game. We don’t want to look at it that way. We want to come in and get this game and go home and get another game, and the series can change from there.

I watched this interview live on Inside The NBA last night, and I couldn’t help but do a double take at Howard’s remarks.

First, we have the initial question. All due respect to Mr. Howard, but there is no way anyone on the Celtics, or simply anyone with a Championship mentality, answers that question in that manner.

To be perfectly honest, if the roles were reversed, with Boston down 3-0 and anyone on the Celtics fielded that question, I am supremely confident they wouldn’t even answer that question.

Instead, they would politely inform Cheryl Miller, that, “hey I respect the question, but our season isn’t over yet, so I can’t answer that. There will be plenty of time to reflect onto the season when it is over, but we don’t plan on it ending anytime soon.”

Something like that. It sounds like a vanilla answer, but it’s the one you want coming from your team leader when they are in a deep hole. A sign that they aren’t willing to give up, aren’t willing to throw in the towel, and aren’t satisfied with an impressive playoff run for 2 rounds, only to be blown out of the water in the Eastern Conference Finals. That’s just a defeatist attitude.

Then there’s the “great season” stuff from Mr. Howard. You guys made progress this year Dwight? Really? Didn’t you make it to the Finals last year? How is this year progress then?

I understand that, this Orlando team had a lot of new faces, and that yes, the Magic likely made progress as a team during the year, still those remarks would alarm me if I’m a Orlando fan.

That’s loser talk right there, the talk of someone who doesn’t crave a Championship. That’s the talk of someone whose season is over, not someone who still has something to fight for!

Listen, Orlando is in a hole that is too big to climb out of against a better overall team. That locker room may not believe they can come back, but to openly reflect on a season of “progress and success” in public when you are down 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals?

That’s not a player with a driven winning mentality. That’s a guy who is satisfied with something less than the ultimate goal and quite frankly isn’t a person I would want leading my team.

So why am I surprised by all this talk? I guess it’s because I hadn’t heard any of it in awhile. It’s easy to take for granted a team like the Boston Celtics, when after three years, you’d never hear anything close to a sound bite like we just heard from Superman. That kind of attitude would not be accepted in that locker room from anyone on the roster, much less the team’s best player.

So be thankful Celtics fans, that you have a team that plays tough as nails on the floor, and is just as mentally tough off of it.

Dwight’s ready for his season to be over…..let’s see if the Celtics can give him his wish tonight.

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Brian Robb

Brian Robb co-founded CelticsHub in 2009 and is the currently editor-in-chief. He is a producer and reporter at 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston and also contributes to Boston.com and Bleacher Report among other outlets.
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  • sacbobv

    Agree 100 %. If your “star” player has that kind of attitude, may as well confirm those off-season plans a little sooner than you thought you would have.

    Go Celts, finish them off tonight!

  • mitch

    I don’t believe Dwight Howard, he is gonna come out aggressive tonight and turn some heads…I’m a c’s fan but the magic won’t go down quietly…if the c’s dont put this game away in the first half….the magic have a good chance to get a win…not likely, but anything is possible

  • s8anicfalcon

    This is the type of attitude that infuriates me when it comes to Dwight Howard. He seems to be more interested in “having fun” on the court & in the off-season (you know, shooting movies & tons of commercials) rather than working on his “post” game and becoming a dominate force on both ends of the floor.

    A couple of examples I’m sure C’s fans have noticed. 1) Towards the end of Game 2 in Orlando after Vince Carter gave the Magic that 1 point lead, the C’s were coming out of a timeout and there’s Howard, sporting a huge grin and yucking it up with fans right before the most important defensive possession of his team’s season. Well, we all know how that turned out. 2) Check out the interview on NBA.com Cheryl Miller did with Dwight walking down the tunnel prior to Game 3. She asked him about the team’s preparation leading up to the game and Dwight responds by saying something along the lines of “We’ve had good practices, having a lot of fun.” Are you kidding me? Maybe that’s an indictment of the way Stan Van runs his practices, but given Howard’s non-chalant, happy-go-lucky attitude, I can’t say I’m suprised. If I were a Magic fan, I wouldn’t be suprised my team is about to be swept since the “leader” of my team finds everything on & off the basketball court so damn hilarious.

  • CG

    Dwight Howard is talented. Dwight Howard is apparently a good Christian, smart, and an exceedingly nice guy. Dwight Howard is also a chump. He isn’t going to show anything different than what he has already shown, because he can’t. This is what he is.

    Rajon Rondo has a reputation as somewhat stubborn and difficult, but you can see how that helps him much of the time. He isn’t joking around and yucking it up all the time. He is playing basketball, and that’s it.

    This has the feel of an “old school vs. new school” debate, but I don’t really by that. Some guys are cut-throat competitors and some aren’t, and it is probably pretty well decided which they are by the time they hit their teens.

  • MP
  • Perry

    At this level, and the stakes being what they are, it’s hard to carry out a game plan without mental toughness. If shots aren’t going down there’s no reason why you can’t turn effort into a net gain. Rondo’s hustle play was indicative of a team wanting it more. That is why it was so special. Down by 17, it should have been J. Wil diving to the floor. Maybe that explains his post game rant. The Celtics owned every 50/50 loose ball because the Magic flat out quit.

    Why is mental toughness important? If the Celtics didn’t score a point in the first quarter they still would have won the game.

    Over the years the Celtic mystique has paid off big time, and against more worthy opponents than the Magic. I’ve heard many players and coaches complain about the dead spots and the room temperature in the old garden. The absence of mental toughness cost them a series.

    In this post season our guys demonstrated the wherewithal to rise above a 14-point deficit, a suspension in game one, and went on to demoralize Miami.

    They were mentally sound enough to play as team instead of individually competing against Lebron. We watched Cleveland quit in game 5, and as a result it dovetailed into the firing of their head coach.

    The Magic could come out robotic tonight and play much better, but at some point they will be tested. So far they’ve flunked every exam. As for Howard, his comments are a microcosm of how hundreds of NBA players view their season versus players who wear green uniforms. Their success can only be measured by a title.

  • NHBluesMan

    i’ll admit, coming into this series i was hoping we stole one at home and could take the series in 6. I thought it would be Celtics in 6 games or the Magic in 7,but game 3 clearly showed the difference between the Celtics and Magic. Celtics are a much more well-rounded team, a team that knows what it takes to go all the way, and a team that will be satisfied with NOTHING less than hanging banner #18 in the rafters.

    I think that could be the difference if/when we face the Lakers in the finals. All the Laker fans are talking about getting revenge, while the Celtics are focused on the prize. Lakers defense is based around having length down low (just like the Magic) whereas the Celtics defense works as a team unit.

    It’ll be a hard fought battle, but if the Celtics can steal one on the road (preferably game 1), and can take care of business at home for at least 2 of the 3 games, i think they can win it in 6.

    Cavs folded against our defense, Magic did it last night, and the Lakers did it in game 6 in 2008. It will be a tough battle, but we can make them fold again!

  • DRJ1

    Yeah, people are saying Dwight looks beaten, etc. But if he came out all positive and confident, personally, I’d wonder about his sanity. It’s arguable that what he is saying is just realistic. He knows they have no shot anymore, and that’s that. He’s not gonna lie and say otherwise.

    They were overwhelmed. Not an easy thing to come back from… for anybody.

    Btw… after watching the Lakers play last night… I don’t think that series is going to be so very hard. At all.

  • Rocci

    Just as disturbing is the sheer number of Magic fans ready for their season to be over, as shown by this poll on Orlando Pinstriped Post. Incredible.

  • rondo-is-love


    What he was saying was definitely realistic, but that shows zero confidence… and when a team’s leader doesn’t show confidence, what are they to do? This is why I don’t like him and don’t think he could lead a team to a championship (unless they bring in someone with a strong personality who isn’t all fun and games, someone KG-esque, to play alongside him).

    When Manu Ginobli was reminded of the fact that no team in NBA history had ever overcome a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs, you know what his answer was? It was something along the lines of, “Well, I guess the odds are in our favor, then, because it has to happen some time.”

    That right there shows confidence and pretty much promises that even if they get swept, they’ll go down fighting, giving their absolute all (which, in truth, is what the Spurs did–they may have gotten swept but those games didn’t feel like a sweep). THAT is what a leader of a top team should be saying, not reflecting on their season that isn’t over yet.

    Of course… being a Celtic fan, I don’t really mind Dwight losing his confidence 🙂

  • What More Can I Say?


    I agree. The Lakers D looks so bad…I really can’t see them winning anything in Boston. The first two games of the Finals will be key. If we can get 1…we may not go back to LA.

    But the game tonight will be tough. I expect the Celtics to play extremely well though.