WALTHAM The NBA you see on TV isn't the same as the NBA you see on a gaming console. A click here. A dragged icon there. Within minutes, you have a championship team ready to roll toward a simulated NBA title.
But in this place called Reality, putting together a title contender isn't quite so easy. It takes time and patience -- neither of which most fans have in droves. Take the fans of NBA Goliaths like the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics as an example. They are in near-panic mode because their teams have gotten off to not-so-stellar starts.
Still, those teams are taking it all in stride. Why?
They both expected to feel increased pressure to win with their overhauled rosters, knowing that it would probably take time for things to click.
While were trying to . . . win, we still got to do things right," Lakers coach Mike Brown told reporters recently. "Its going to be tough."
Jason Terry is a 14-year NBA veteran who has seen and done quite a bit during his career. Still, he thought the road to success with the C's would not be this bumpy right away.
"No question, you thought it would be a lot smoother," Terry said. "It ain't as easy as you think a lot of times. It's good. It's good that we're going through it."
That said, the Celtics still aren't where head coach Doc Rivers expected them to be at this point. When asked about the team's progress at this point in the season, Rivers said that the Celtics were "probably behind" schedule.
Saturday's 89-86 win at Washington was a great example of what Rivers meant.
The Celtics came out with a 17-2 run and spent the bulk of the game smothering the woeful Wizards with their in-your-face defense. But it took Boston keeping the Wizards scoreless for the final 2:56 in order to get the victory.
"The first seven or eight minutes, they struggled to get a shot off let alone make a basket," Rivers said. "But then as the game went on, you could slowly see us moving away from it. I don't know if that's breaking old habits from other places or conditioning. When you watch it on film, you think it's a little bit of both."
Rivers has maintained all along that the Celtics would have to go through a period of transition, adding that no one -- not him, his staff or any of his players -- would have a clue as to how long it would take the eight new players to get on the same page with the returners.
"Everyone is starting to figure out in order to be a good team, you have to work at it," Rivers said. "It's hard work. You just don't show up because you have good names on a piece of paper and become good. You have to work at it; you have to work hard at it and it's exhausting."
Added Terry: "There's an adjustment period here for everyone involved. We'd like it to happen fast, but sometimes you have to do things slowly just so you can get every little small detail. That's what we're working on. We're trying to shore up the things we know we're going to have to use down the stretch, and that's offensively, setting good picks, the little things. Getting each other open, knowing who we want to get the ball to, and defensively, knowing your assignment and executing within the system."
And when that all comes together, Terry is convinced he and his teammates will see that the headaches and setbacks of today will be worth the end result.
"What we're going to do is look back upon this journey and say that we had to go through something," Terry said. "This is definitely challenging."
Which is why the games are played on the floor and not left to a game console to determine a winner.