The Celtics have gotten rid of their morning walkthrough, but that doesn’t mean we have to. Here are a few Celtics links, and maybe even an NBA link or two, to help wake you up and get you focused for the day.
Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald – “In that the game will be against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, the defense will be tested even more. ‘I think we’re breaking down in just one area,’ said Paul Pierce. ‘Our pick-and-roll defense has to get better. I think it’s simple and plain.’ Asked if it was a problem of hustle or technique, Pierce said, ‘I think it’s a combination of both. When you play a team game, a team defense, if one person breaks down, it breaks down the whole team. It’s got to come from all of us.’”
Benbow/Washburn, Boston Globe – “The Celtics have lost three straight at home, abandoning defense but, more disturbingly, making mistakes that a team with so many veterans shouldn’t. ‘It was just point-by-point talk about X’s and O’s more than about who we are,’ said coach Doc Rivers. ‘It really wasn’t a talk about execution, it was a talk about the silly things we did that we don’t do, that were uncharacteristic.’ The Celtics have played their share of close games this season (49 decided by 10 points or fewer) where little things can swing the outcome. ‘Those little things can cause you to lose games,’ Allen said. ‘You take for granted a lot of times the games that you win when you win by a point or you win by a defensive possession, regardless of who the opponent is. This is why the good teams are who they are, because they beat everybody.’”
Peter May, ESPNBoston – “He drove a forklift in a tape warehouse. He worked in a liquor store as a stock boy and cashier. But he played competitively in local leagues and caught the eye of a community college coach, who was intrigued by what he saw. Jim White of Harbor Community College is the man who put Dennis Johnson on the path to a career in basketball, plucking him off the streets of San Pedro and offering him a spot on his team. The rest, as they say, is history. It’s an astounding story. Johnson always had a defiant streak in him and White saw it firsthand. He kicked DJ off the team three times. But Johnson always came back and played enough — and well enough — to get noticed. Harbor won the state title in his second season there. That was good enough to get him a scholarship to Pepperdine, where he played one year before entering the 1976 NBA draft. He was taken by Seattle in the second round, starting a remarkable career that spanned three teams (the Sonics, Suns and Celtics) and included the following: all-NBA first team (1981), all-NBA second team (1980), and from 1979 to 1987, either first-team or second-team All-Defense. He was MVP of the 1979 NBA Finals. He was a five-time participant in the All-Star Game. He won three rings, two with Boston.”
Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston – “Following Friday’s head-shaking overtime loss to the Houston Rockets, Celtics coach Doc Rivers noted that it would likely be an interesting day of film study. But when the Celtics arrived to practice Saturday, the film being dissected was game tape of the Cleveland Cavaliers. ‘We talked about [the Houston loss],’ said Rivers. ‘I didn’t think we needed to go back there. I thought we needed to move forward. Sometimes you still watch the film, work on it, and then move forward. But with a 1 p.m game [Sunday], we had to chose to move forward. And we have.’”
Mark Murphy, Boston Herald – “‘It’s something because of their injuries, and that’s what I’ve been saying with our group,’ Rivers said, comparing the Spurs and Celtics. ‘It’s not age – it has to do with injuries. People don’t realize that just because you’re back playing doesn’t mean your team is right again. When Paul and Kevin (Garnett) first came back, we started running their stuff, and they weren’t ready for it. I told our staff that we still had to run it, because they had to get back used to running it, and the other guys had to get back used to their roles. I actually told our staff in a meeting that (it) may hurt for awhile, but we have to do it. Otherwise we’re running out of time. If it was 70 games left we wouldn’t have to do that, but when everything happened with 43 games left you had to do it. I thought we could win games still, but I was wrong in that part.’”
A. Sherrod Blakely, CSNNE – “Despite the struggles, the Celtics still sound optimistic about their chances of doing some serious damage in the playoffs – even if their play of late suggests that they’re a prime candidate for an early exit. That unwavering faith within the confines of their locker room is what Paul Pierce believes is crucial to them getting back on track. ‘It’s very important,’ he said. ‘The tendency is to start pointing the finger; the tendency is to get mad at each other. But that’s not the case with this team, and that’s what I love. We still believe we can win a championship. We still believe in one another, and that’s why we do what we do after a loss. It’s about handling adversity, and I think this team has been through a lot of adversity this season. For us to still be together . . . I still have a lot of confidence in this ball club.’”
Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald – “The Celtics have shielded themselves this season by placing little overt emphasis on specific games. However, with just seven left before the playoffs and very little result-based evidence to support them, it would seem today’s exercise with Cleveland carries a bit more weight than ‘just one of 82.’ But in that the Celts are often critical of how the media characterizes such outings, it was decided they should be the ones to put this nationally televised game into perspective. ‘I put all the emphasis right now that we have, that we can muster, on (today),’ Ray Allen said. ‘We’ve lost three in a row at home, and you know, it’s a team that we’re going to have to beat if we want to hoist another banner. So I’d like to think the focus is going to be there and everybody will be ready to go.’”