Paul Pierce wants the Boston Celtics to improve on last year’s regular season. Don’t we all? (WEEI)
Based on the bumpy ride that was the regular season and then how it all came together and lined up properly for the postseason, you made a good point: Your team was built sort of for the postseason. Having said that, and looking at what you have now, do you look at the regular season and say, “Maybe it’s not critical that we bust our [butt] every single night to try to get the first or second seed. We can be the fourth or the fifth or the sixth and still do damage in the playoffs”?
No, I don’t look at it like that. I still want us to be a better regular-season team than we were last year. I want us to play better at home. Because during the regular season, you build habits. What we did last year is the exception to the rule. Every team doesn’t go through the regular season and end up in the finals the way we did. The important thing, you’ve got to build habits in the regular season so when you get to the playoffs, you’re prepared. I mean, we had a team that won a championship, got the experience, but by no means, would I say that’s the way to go.
Building habits is the key. Last year, the Celtics built a habit of being an awful rebounding team. They built a habit of having no identity down the stretch. They built a habit of turning the ball over far too often. They kicked those habits for most of the playoffs, but in The Game That Must Not Be Named the bad traits all came flying back in.
So build good habits this season. Learn how to box out. Figure out a way to consistently score in crunch time. Stop throwing the damn ball to the wrong team. When push comes to shove, the regular season really does matter.
P.S. – I came across a column ripping apart last year’s Celtics, written by Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Bud Shaw. At the time, I probably wouldn’t have blamed him for his take. Here’s what he had to say about the C’s chances going into last year’s playoffs:
Boston in the playoffs? Be unafraid, be very unafraid…
LeBron James has won four consecutive Player of the Month honors in the Eastern Conference and one Diplomat of the Year award based solely on the kind words he recently had for the deceased Boston Celtics.
He was so diplomatic, in fact, he called them alive and well. The way the Celtics are going, to actually appear ready to pounce come playoff time will require an imaginative taxidermist.
The Celtics are dragging Kevin Garnett up and down the court like the whole bunch of them are auditioning for Weekend at Bernie’s IV. When the Celtics get in a running game with a more athletic team, they often need IVs administered at halftime.
Four out of five doctors recommend formaldehyde.
The Celtics aren’t just pacing themselves. Losing to Memphis by 20 at home isn’t putting the season on cruise control. It’s getting it stuck in reverse during a Demolition Derby.
Garnett is a proud competitor. But he simply has too many miles on him. Some nights he looks like Keith Richards does most mornings.
The worst stroke of luck in recent years for the Cavaliers was that Orlando outlasted Boston in the last postseason. Orlando was a bad matchup for the Cavs. Boston would’ve been a five-game Cavaliers win at worst.
This year, the Celtics don’t have anyone who can handle Shaquille O’Neal. And when they go to a smaller lineup, it gets even worse for Boston.
The Celtics’ step back coincides with James leaping tall buildings in a single bound all season long. He used to do one thing every night that you never saw before. Now he’s doing three things every night that you never saw before.
The upshot is there are only two teams that can beat the Cavs. Orlando and Los Angeles. Three, if you count themselves.
If Boston is lying in the weeds, it’s because the hearse hit a bump and the casket flew out.