BOSTON Doc Rivers found himself doing something he hasn't been able to do in quite a while - praise his team's play defensively.
For all that went the Boston Celtics' way in their 96-78 win over Portland - and there were a lot of things working for them - it was the C's defense that stood out.
"Our defense was fantastic," Rivers said.
Boston's defensive success was due in part to some tweaking on Rivers' part in terms of their coverage schemes in addition to more trapping.
After Wednesday's loss to Brooklyn, the C's came into Friday's game looking to not just win but win on their terms.
And around here, that means putting teams away with strong play defensively.
The C's did just that, especially in the first half when they limited the Blazers to just 33 points on 23.3 percent shooting.
So much for the Celtics being "soft," huh?
That four-letter word - Rivers' description of his team after their loss to the Nets on Wednesday - resonated with the players in the hours leading up to Friday's victory.
"Me individually I took that personal," said Courtney Lee. "I feel that I'm far from being soft. And I think our team took it personal, too."
Especially on defense where the Blazers simply had no breathing room to speak off inside the paint or on the perimeter.
Portland coach Terry Stotts was well aware of how the C's were probably going to play with an extra bit of motivation following Rivers' comments.
"Boston came out really aggressive," Stotts said. "Doc called them a soft team and they came out aggressive."
In addition to limiting the Blazers shooting (they connected on just 34.8 percent of their shots for the game), the Celtics also forced 23 turnovers which led to 18 points.
"We did a couple things different, trapping, it was great," Rivers said.
But maybe most significant, the Celtics were playing Celtics basketball which starts with strong play defensively.
Rivers had a relatively hard practice on Thursday and the C's went pretty hard during Friday morning's shoot-around which is a bit unusual.
But when you look at the result, an impressive win at home, it's hard to argue with Rivers' method of motivation.
"We've got to get our culture right in that way," he said. "And we've got a long way to go, but we're getting better. You can see it, for sure."