The season is still early, and the Boston Celtics have had a bit of an up-and-down start to their campaign. But that hasn’t stopped Gregg Popovich from calling them the NBA’s best team.
Via the San Antonio Express-News:
“The game’s a 48-minute game and you’ve got to play for 48, especially against a great team like Boston,” Popovich said. “Tonight, we played a quarter, and that’s not good enough.
Popovich found no fault with his players’ effort, but was perplexed by their lack of precision.
“They persevered all night long, but they were sloppy,” he said. “They turned it over, missed free throws, missed some assignments here and there, but against the best team in the league you’ve got to play for 48. You play other teams that aren’t the best and you’ve still got to play for 48 or it’s going to bite you in the butt.”
The Spurs were certainly sloppy. On a couple of occasions, they simply threw passes out of bounds. On another occasion, Richard Jefferson tossed the ball in directly to Rajon Rondo, prompting Mike Gorman to say, “Sometimes, Richard Jefferson just doesn’t pay attention to detail.”
But I pay attention to detail, and I read Pop’s quote carefully and saw him call the C’s the league’s best team. After the C’s played an uneven game — even in a win — against Pop’s team, missing a lot of outside shots and getting outrebounded like they were five guys the size of Muggsy Bogues, that’s high praise. Actually, it would have been high praise even after the Celtics played a flawless game.
But, coming from a coach who knows a little something about winning championships, that praise means a lot. The C’s have been playing very good ball lately, getting back to the two things that helped make them so tough the past two seasons: Defense and unselfishness.
So are they the best team in basketball? I don’t know yet. But I do know it was nice to hear Pop say they were.