Celtics

Doc: Team's performance "un-Celtic"

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Doc: Team's performance "un-Celtic"

TORONTO Doc Rivers is a patient man.

He lost 18 straight at one time and survived, which is amazing in this NBA world.

But he has his breaking point every now and then.

Consider Rivers, broke.

He can be emotional, but he was in rare form during Boston's 86-74 loss on Friday.

Rivers saw first-hand how so much of the progress made by the C's in the past couple of weeks, was seemingly getting wiped out by the team's performance in the last two games - both losses.

In the first quarter, he called a timeout and then, visibly upset, had to call a 20-second timeout moments later because, "we couldn't even run a play out of our timeout".

"That's focus, or something," Rivers said. "We have to fix that. Because we've been playing too well to go back for this to go back down this road again. We kind of worked out all our kinks, and then all of a sudden these two games, it's returned back out of nowhere. It's part of coaching. It shouldn't be, but it is. You just have to keep finding the right button."

Rivers wouldn't point to any particular player, but he makes it absolutely crystal clear that there are some Celtics players not investing as much time as they should in understanding what they need to do once they're on the floor.

To Rivers, it's simply a matter of being professional.

"Not being a professional, drains energy," Rivers said. "Being a professional is knowing every set you run, knowing your rotations. It's draining for the pros who do know, who do the work."

While those words seem directed at the team's new faces, Rivers said there's at least one newcomer who totally gets what being a professional is all about - Mickael Pietrus.

"He's been here the least amount of time," Rivers said. "He knows every single rotation and every single set. Because he's a pro."

Being a pro also rules out using Thursday night's loss to the Lakers as a reason for Friday's disappointing performance.

Rajon Rondo, among the many Celtics who played poorly on Friday, said he thought there was a connection between the two losses.

"In a way, last night's loss kind of lingered on to this loss today," Rondo said. "I think it's a different story if we win the game Thursday night."

Rivers doesn't believe the two games should be all that interconnected to one another.

"If they want to use the overtime Thursday night (as an excuse for Friday's poor performance), then we are not mentally tough enough to be a winner," Rivers said. "If you're tough, if you're tough, you come in and grind this one out and win it, too. If you're not, then you use Thursday night as an excuse."

Making matters even tougher for Boston was the fact that the Raptors (9-19) would come in even more fired up than usual after their last matchup, a 100-64 Celtics blowout win on Feb. 1.

"We beat them by 1,000 last time we played," quipped Rivers. "And they're grown men. They're going to come back and think revenge. They just played so hard. They wanted it so much."

And his team didn't; not even close to wanting it as bad as they should have, or as bad as they'll need to be moving forward.

Several players will need to improve, including Rondo, who, according to Rivers, was "frustrated at halftime".

Rivers added, "He was like, 'Man, I'm playing like crap.' And I said, 'That's fine. But you gotta just keep on playing. You're going to not play well. But it can't affect your energy and effort.' "

But for too many stretches, it appeared as though his struggles did affect him energy-wise and in terms of effort.

By no means was Rondo alone in that department.

However, his position as the team's lead guard makes it more noticeable.

Meanwhile, Rivers and his staff will continue to look at ways to get more consistent play out of the team.

Rivers is all in for that.

But in terms of trying to motivate players to play harder, Rivers said, "I shouldn't beg you to play hard. It's just un-Celtic."

Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

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Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

PHILADELPHIA – For the third time in as many games, the Boston Celtics will field a different lineup.

It will have a domino effect on Boston’s usual starters, but no one more than Al Horford who will slide over to power forward with Aron Baynes inserted into the starting lineup where he’ll be charged with trying to defend Sixers 7-footer Joel Embiid.

Meanwhile, Horford will be assigned to defend Robert Covington who is one of Philadelphia’s better perimeter scorers.

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“I feel like one of my strengths is being able to play multiple positions,” Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “It presents a different challenge for me, which is making sure I do a good job of covering him out on the perimeter, staying between him and the basket.”

In Philadelphia’s 120-115 season-opening loss to Washington, Covington led all Sixers with 29 points which included him going 7-for-11 from 3-point range in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

While Covington will be Horford’s first defensive assignment, he knows he will also be called upon at times to defend Embiid who ranks among the best centers in the NBA despite having played just 32 games over the course of three NBA seasons.

In the loss to the Wizards, Embiid had a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Horford’s defense will be critical for Boston (0-2) to get its first win of the season, but the Celtics will also need him to take advantage of scoring opportunities as well.

“We have some guys down, but that creates opportunities for other guys to step up and contribute,” Horford said. “It’s going to all of us, the veterans, the young players, all of us to get that first win.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens agreed.

“I think that’s how we have to look at it,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have to make a few tweaks on how we do things, obviously. Hey, it’s gonna be something that we’re going to have to do really, really well on the fly.”

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