“They gave us a chance to win it. it’s just remarkable, because truthfully I did not think we had a chance to win this ballgame.” – Paul Silas
The dog days of March. Another midseason slump. There’s plenty of ways to explain another disappointing setback for the Boston Celtics as they blew a 13-point lead fourth quarter lead against the likes of Gerald Henderson, Kwame Brown, and Dante Cunningham. I’ll save most of the the direct game analysis for Brendan Jackson on Saturday morning, just know, from courtside, this was easily the Celtics worst loss of the year.
The Bobcats, as their coach indicated above, had absolutely no business winning this game after starting out 1-of-12 from the field and scoring just 4 points in the first 7 minutes of the game, all without two of their best players in Stephen Jackson and Tyrus Thomas.
Afterwards, the Celtics locker room reeked of frustration, disgust and flat out bewilderment, while reflecting on the variety of problems that caused this team to drop its fourth game out of its past six. Here’s a collection of the disturbing reaction, starting with the top dog Doc Rivers:
On The Shock of The Loss: “The way we’re playing shocks me. Our attitude, shocks me. We’re just not ready to win any games right now the way we play, the way our approach is to basketball games. I told them that with about five minutes left. I said if we win great, you find your own way. Right now I just think we’ve become very, very selfish. Not just as far as trying to get our own, but everything is about how we’re playing individually. Instead of how the team is playing. You can see it, a guy struggles, he pouts, he mounds. Everything is me, me, me on our team right now. Feeling sorry for themselves, instead of giving themselves to the team and playing. You can just see it manifest throughout the team. Until we can get through that we will continue to have results like we had tonight. Clearly should have won the game. I thought the starting unit in particular, came in casual in the fourth quarter, assuming they were going to win the game. No urgency. Then all of the sudden when the game got won, their butts got tight. When you got that eleven point lead, the shots aren’t easy anymore. I always say it, you screw around with the game and the game will screw around with you. Either I’m doing a terrible job getting to them or right now they just aren’t there. I don’t know why, it’s my job to figure it out though.”
On Slumps Affecting The Team’s Play: “I could care less about their slumps. It’s not hard, you keep playing. You play hard. You’re not going to play well every night, but it can’t be about you. It’s got to be let me do something else to help the team.”
How Will Team Get Through It? “Themselves. I’ve used it before, but sometimes you have to find your way. The guys have to. They have to be honest with each other first though. Until that happens we are going to have these results.”
Is This The Most He’s Ever Been Discouraged With This Team? “I don’t have a particular date when the last time was I was discouraged, I’ll try to look that up. It’s up there. We played great the first 8 minutes, then right when adversity came, and adversity came from we started turning the ball over, but that happens in games. Then heads dropped, to me the game was (over) from that point on.”
Is This Anything Like Last Year? “Nothing like this. Last year I shut them down. They were injured. They’re not injured. They’re not playing well. Last year we lost game 7 on the road.”
PAUL PIERCE (In contrast to Doc, notice how much Paul was worried about the defense)
Did Celtics defense get uptight as Bobcats when on run in 4th: “ I wouldn’t say that. It’s just our defense really broke down in the 4th quarter. We played good defense for three quarters, solid for the most part. Then we give up 30 points in the 4th quarter. Regardless of how our offense if going, which we’ve been struggling as of late; we still should be able to pull together a defensive run and hold this team off, especially when we’re up by 10 point in the 4th.”
Are Celtics playing bored: “I can’t speak for everybody. I’m not bored, if you’re asking me.
Need greater sense of urgency? “It has to come from all of us. One player can come out here and say it and “hoo-rah” around the locker room, but it has to come from everybody. We’re all veterans, we’ve all been here before, and we all know what it takes. It’s got to come from each individual to take a look in the mirror, and look inside and decide if that’s what they want to do. We can talk about it everyday, but until we look at ourselves in the mirror, that’s what it’s going to be.
Celtics playing selfish? “From time to time. That’s the reason why we don’t shoot a high percentage, or score a hundred points, because the ball is sticking when we usually make extra passes that’s when the offense is flowing, and we’re able to get out there on a break and get easy opportunities. You haven’t been seeing that, and that’s why we’re shooting a low percentage and that’s why we’re not scoring.”
How to fix the problem “We’ve just go to go to work. It seems like there’s a lot of thinking being done throughout the whole team, throughout the whole game, instead of us just playing; get out there and just play basketball. Offensively it looks like we’re thinking just transferring from the defensive end. We just need to go play basketball.”
Ball not moving as much “I don’t know. I know the ball starts to move early in the game, and it feels like it’s moving pretty well. By the second half, there’s just no rhythm or motion there offensively.”
Celtics playing selfishly “No, because I think most of the guys on this team are unselfish. It just takes each person to move the ball around. It’s such a weird scenario when I think about it. We can go games where we over pass, and turn the ball over. Now we’re in the situation were, if you’re saying we’re selfish; I don’t believe that any one is selfishly not passing the ball. It’s just a matter of swinging the ball once, twice, three times and somebody gets a shot and it goes in, and that catches fire and that’s how you create a rhythm. That’s something that has to happen. As much as it happens in the first unit, in the first quarter, you got the second unit to do the same thing, and some how we lose that throughout the game.
For the record, the Celtics had just 15 assists tonight, their 3rd lowest assist output total of the season. They have lost all three of those games with 15 or fewer dimes. And in more good news, Delonte West aggravated his ankle sprain once again on Thursday, which limited his shooting Friday night (1-of-6) and caused an early exit for him in the fourth quarter. He will return to DC tomorrow for a court appearance regarding his gun charges and meet the team in Minnesota Sunday.
The team will also have a practice tomorrow in Waltham before it departs later that afternoon. With just 11 games left, there’s clearly a lot to sort out and not a lot of tie left to do it.