Celtics

Notes: Celtics know they can't 'flip the switch'

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Notes: Celtics know they can't 'flip the switch'

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

CHICAGO The Boston Celtics suffered an embarrassing 97-81 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday.

A year ago this time, the Celtics were dealing with similar disappointing defeats.

But that team managed to regroup in time to make an unexpected dash towards the NBA Finals where they came up short in Game Seven of the Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Because most of the core players from that team are still back, there's a sense that they too can ''flip a switch'' and start playing better basketball.

Rajon Rondo has been around this group all season.

He knows them better than most.

Rondo will be the first to acknowledge that this team isn't built to surge like that group did in the postseason.

"It's not the same team," Rondo said. "We're not going to be able to turn it on like we did last year. Even last year we came up short. I don't know what we're waiting on. But these type of games, we have to find a way to win on the road."

When Tom Thibodeau was a Celtics assistant, he rarely strayed from the task at hand.

Getting too high off a big win?

Not under Thibodeau's watch.

So even as the Bulls celebrated an impressive 97-81 win over Boston, Thibodeau wasn't much in the mood to reflect on the night's events. Instead, he was thinking about Chicago's next game, against Cleveland.

"You guys may think it is a cliche and maybe it is a cliche, but it's what's important," Thibodeau said. "The Cleveland game is just as important as this game. It's actually more important now because this one is gone. They carry the same weight. You have to understand, that's how we got here. It has been our attitude and our approach. We have to focus in and get ready."

As for the Celtics, having another game less than 24 hours after a disappointing loss has its benefits as well.

"You chalk it up in the loss column. That's how you move on," West told CSNNE.com following Thursday's loss. "Of course, No. 1 and No. 2 in the East, you would want to send a statement or something. But right now, it's not about sending a statement the rest of the league. For us, we need to send a statement to ourselves, a memo to ourselves.

West added, "That's how it goes. If you don't bring it, somebody's going to bring it to you."

There was no question the outcome of Thursday's game had value for both teams. But there was a sense among the players that the Bulls, frankly, wanted it more.

"We treated it basically like a regular-season game," West said. "But they came at it like they were trying to make a statement. And they did."

But West is quick to add that dwelling on the disappointment of Thursday's loss won't do them any good in preparing for Friday night's opponent, Washington.

"We'll see tomorrow what the edge will look like," West said. "We just have to understand that there are no teams out there saying, 'Oh, it's the big, bad Celtics. We're shaking in our boots.' They want to win. They want to beat us. They want to beat the reigning Eastern Conference champions. Ain't nobody scared of nobody right now. It's not about initiating fear. We have to get up and fight."

One of the Celtics' strengths on most nights has been their ability to generate offense from the inside, and then out. But far too often lately, it seems the Celtics forget about going into the post.

That certainly looked like it happened in Thursday's 16-point loss to the Chicago Bulls, a game in which Chicago outscored Boston, 44-22, on points in the paint.

A good chunk of those points came on driving lay-ups by Derrick Rose (30 points), but he wasn't the only Bulls player giving the C's fits around the basket.

Boston's lack of scoring punch around the basket was a direct reflection of a team that continues to lack the necessary focus to stick with the game plan laid out.

"We're supposed to be that post-and-drive team," said coach Doc Rivers. "But we didn't tonight."

Of course, Chicago and its highly-regarded defense certainly had something to do with that.

But it seemed the C's were too quick to go away from the post, when things didn't work initially.

"For most of the night, we probably did settle for outside jumpers," said Paul Pierce.

When Boston came out to start the third quarter, they immediately got the ball to Pierce on the post.

That led to a basket.

In a matter of minutes, the Celtics were back on top.

And then . . . they stopped feeding the post and making the second pass, which led to them losing the lead.

The C's were never the same afterward.

"We were clearly a front-running team," Rivers said. "Then right when we got the lead, you could see guys jumping around, puffing their chests out . . . and they made another run and we hung our heads again. So, I just thought Chicago was tougher in every way."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Jayson Tatum vs. Markelle Fultz debate

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Jayson Tatum vs. Markelle Fultz debate

0:41 - Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions on the Celtics getting their first win of the season and a comparison between Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving in the 4th quarter.

7:17 - Phil Perry joins BST to break down the tale of the tape between the Falcons and the Patriots as he breaks down the quarterbacks, offense, defense, coaching, and intangibles between the two teams.

11:57 - Our crew on BST discuss number 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz and number 3 overall pick Jayson Tatum going up against each other and debate who seems like the better pick so far. 

16:35 - In this segment of Irrelevant Questions, Tom Curran interviews Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett as he asks him a bunch of random questions. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Larkin rises to occasion, says he's ready when Celtics call his number

Larkin rises to occasion, says he's ready when Celtics call his number

PHILADELPHIA – Near the end of a preseason game against Charlotte, Boston Celtics guard Shane Larkin was killin’ the Hornets with pick-and-roll action.

It was a preseason game that at the time, didn’t seem to have much value other than to get some of the end-of-the-bench guys a little run up and down the court.

But as it turned out, Larkin's play in that game was one of those things head coach Brad Stevens tucked away, knowing at some point he would count on Larkin to provide similar play in a regular season game.

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Well, that game was Friday night at Philadelphia, a game in which several players for Boston stepped their games up in helping the Celtics get their first win of the season, 102-92.

But you would be hard-pressed to find a bigger game-changer for the Celtics in this game, than Larkin.

He finished with 10 points off the bench, eight of which came in the decisive fourth quarter when the Celtics rallied from five-down to get a hard-fought, much-needed victory.

“You have to always be ready for your name to be called, especially when you have injuries,” Larkin said. “You never know whose night it’s gonna be.”

Boston was playing without Marcus Smart who suffered a left ankle sprain in their 108-100 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday. Smart was in the starting lineup having replaced Gordon Hayward who underwent left ankle surgery and is expected to be out for the remainder of this season.

“When coach (Stevens) called my name, I had to go out there and be aggressive, play my game,” Larkin said. “And it worked in our favor.”

And while Stevens had watched Larkin play prior to the Celtics signing him this summer, it was a preseason game against Charlotte that really convinced him that the 5-foot-11 guard could help when called upon.

“You’re always watching,” Stevens said. “And if you remember that exhibition game, he finished out that Charlotte game, just running simple spread pick-and-rolls. He’s such a handful with his speed and quickness, and he allows other guys to play off of him. He’s a small guy, but he makes up for it with his speed and skill.”

Al Horford benefited more than any other Celtic with Larkin’s pick-and-roll play which factored into Horford scoring nine of his 17 points in the fourth.

“Shane is a player who understands the game and for us, it was me trying to set a good screen for him and having him make a play,” Horford said. “He just made the right reads, when to shoot it, when to pass it. He just looked very comfortable in that position.”

And to think that Larkin’s big game came about in part because of how well he performed in a preseason matchup against the Hornets.

“I did not know it was that specific game,” Larkin said. “But whenever I step on the court I try to do my best. That’s offensively, defensively, and do what the team needs me to do.

Larkin added, “Whenever my number is called, if he (Stevens) calls it again, I hope he does. I’ll be ready to go out there and do it again.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE