Rivers: It's an error if Celtics are relying on history


Rivers: It's an error if Celtics are relying on history

ATLANTA With the all-star break less than a month away, the Boston Celtics find themselves for the second year straight year fighting their way from a sub-.500 hole record-wise.

That team rebounded with a strong regular season finish after the all-star break that catapulted them into the postseason and eventually the Eastern Conference finals.

While there are indeed parallels to be drawn between the two, it becomes a dangerous comparison if relied upon too much.

And no matter how much Doc Rivers preaches that this team is different than that, his fellow coaching brethren repeatedly remind him that the C's have had their problems during past regular seasons only to play some of their best basketball when the games truly mattered - the playoffs.

"Not this group," Rivers said following Friday's 123-111 double overtime loss at Atlanta. "The groups in the past, yeah, we had to do that. We had to not play Shaq many minutes, or rest Rasheed (Wallace, now with the New York Knicks) and Kevin (Garnett) and Ray (Allen, now with the Miami Heat) and Paul (Pierce). We got nine new guys here. They've never done this."

But Rivers wouldn't rule out that some of his players may in fact be relying on the C's track record for bouncing back from slow starts, as for the reason they don't play more consistently or with a greater sense of urgency.

"They may be thinking that," Rivers said. "If they are, it's an error."

Kevin Garnett agrees that past success doesn't necessarily make it an accurate predictor of the future.

During the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 season, the Celtics went into the all-star break with a record of 15-17 only to emerge from it by posting a 24-10 record.

"Man, we can't rely on that," Garnett said. "That's the past. This is a whole different group of guys. Guys in the past, that's the past. We're dealing with the present. If we're sitting around waiting on that, then that's a joke. It's about now. It's not about tomorrow, it's about now. Everybody has to look at themselves and see what they can do better to help this team."

Rajon Rondo was instrumental in the Celtics' ability to turn around their season a year ago.

Ditto for Garnett, whose move to center full-time was arguably the biggest adjustment the C's made during their post all-star break surge last season.

But this season has presented the Celtics with a different set of challenges that will make the team's efforts to rebound from a poor start that much tougher.

Boston lost games last season in part because they rested players, similar to San Antonio's Gregg Popovich has done at times this season with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

But there has been no reduction in minutes or sitting core guys this season.

Which means they may not necessarily be as fresh for this second half run as they were last year or in past seasons.

'I don't try to compare any teams of the past of how we turned things around," Rondo said. "It's a different year."

But there is one thing he would like to carry over from past turn-arounds.

"Like in the past, we do have to stay positive," Rondo said. "Try to continue to move forward and dig our way out of this hole."

WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic


WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics host the 76ers at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Magic preview: Boston looks to improve shooting down the stretch


Celtics-Magic preview: Boston looks to improve shooting down the stretch

BOSTON – When Celtics coach Brad Stevens was asked about what he saw in the team’s newest (10-day) addition Jarell Eddie, his response was, “shooting  . . .  shooting.”

Indeed, shot-making has been the one area of play that has been problematic for the Celtics most of this season.

Boston comes into today’s game against Orlando (13-32) shooting just 44.8 percent from the field which ranks 25th in the NBA.

In the month of January, Boston has been even worse, connecting on just 41.8 percent of their shots which ranks 29th in the league this month.

While the addition of Eddie had more to do with the recent flu bug that has made the rounds throughout the Celtics lineup and the uncertainty a couple days ago surrounding Kyrie Irving’s sore left shoulder (it has improved and he’s expected to play today), adding Eddie speaks to a greater problem -- guys making shots -- that has to be addressed in some capacity sooner or later.

Boston always has the option to pursue a trade. They also have an $8.4 million disabled player exception they can use on free agent players, with the most likely pool of talent that they will choose from consisting of players who would have been bought out by their current teams.

Or there’s raiding the G-League for talent, which is what they did in signing Eddie to a 10-day contract.

Regardless, there’s a growing sense that this team has to add more scoring punch to the mix or at a minimum, improve the overall offensive execution of the roster as it stands now.

“We have to do our stuff better,” Stevens said. “The start of the season it was predictable, losing Gordon (Hayward who suffered a dislocated left ankle injury in the season-opener) and having to adjust. The middle portion of games we were pretty darn good. And then I thought we were reasonable in London, reasonable against New Orleans. But the other three of the last five games, we weren’t very good.”

Boston’s offense should get a boost from Irving’s return to the lineup after missing Boston’s 89-80 loss to Philadelphia with a sore left shoulder.

And while it was just one game, Irving understands the challenge that lies ahead in getting Boston’s offense to play better and more consistently.

“We have very unique talents on this team,” Irving said. “When you’re trying to put that together and guys are coming back into the lineup and getting their rhythm still and guys are in and out sometimes … big picture, down the stretch, we’re going to need everyone to be on the same page.”

Marcus Morris has been one of the players who has been in and out of the Celtics lineup because of a sore left knee.

However, the schedule has eased up to where he’ll be able to play more games, for longer stretches.

He comes into today’s game having scored in double figures each of the last three games.

“I’m just trying to get healthy. I know what I can do,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “My confidence is always going to stay high, no matter if I miss or make shots.”

In the last three games, he has averaged 15.0 points while shooting 45.7 percent from the field.

While Morris’ play of late is promising, it doesn’t diminish the concern Boston should have for an offense that for the most part, has been sputtering this season.