Doc: 'We're a soft team; we have no toughness'


Doc: 'We're a soft team; we have no toughness'

BOSTON NBA players are a prideful bunch who don't take too kindly to their manhood being questioned.
But there was no mistaking what Doc Rivers and all those Celtics fans at the TD Garden witnessed in Wednesday's 95-83 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
This team, as talented as they might be on paper and on the floor some nights, lacks a certain toughness that can no longer be ignored.
"If I'm Brooklyn and the league, you've got to think we're pretty soft the way we're playing," Rivers said. "We're a soft team right now; we have no toughness."
And for those who want to throw Rajon Rondo's incident -- lead official James Capers referred to it as a fight -- with Kris Humphries into the category of exuded toughness, Rivers isn't trying to hear that.
Especially when he knows that there's a chance that it will likely cost Rondo at least one game via suspension.
"That stuff's not toughness," Rivers said. "All that stuff, that's not toughness."
Inside the Celtics locker room, the disappointment was apparent on the faces of all the players.
And when told of Rivers' comments, players had no choice but to agree.
"It's the truth," said Jeff Green. "That's how we're playing."
Part of the Celtics problem might be that they are not taking these games as serious as their opponents.
The issue isn't whether the C's are showing up ready to play.
That's a given.
The real problem is that far too often, they're not showing up to win.
Boston guard Courtney Lee acknowledged that the Celtics didn't approach this game with the sense of urgency to win that their opponent did.
"I feel like they (Brooklyn) came into the game and approached it as a big game playing us, and we approached it like it was just a regular game," Lee said.
It was clear that the Nets, winners of four in a row now, came to Boston with one thing in mind -- a victory.
That "soft" play that Rivers speaks of has a lot to do with his players simply not understanding fully what it means to play for a team that has been the target of just about every team in the East for a number of years.
"When we play, every team is attacking," Rivers said. "It's a big game for them. What I saw tonight, honestly, was I thought Brooklyn looked at this game as a huge game. Huge game."
Following the victory, several Brooklyn players acknowledged the importance of not just playing with -- but actually beating -- the Celtics for a second time in as many matchups.
"Definitely a big game," said Nets guard Joe Johnson. "You know we're just trying to hold our own at this point. It's still early in the season, but this is a division game. We know if you want to do anything special in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics, regardless of their record, is still going to be right in the hunt. We definitely came in here trying to test ourselves."
Brooklyn's Jerry Stackhouse, who had 17 points which included 5 3-pointers, agreed.
"This is a team that we look at as a barometer, with their core guys," Stackhouse said. "I know it's different now, they made some changes. But with Doc as their coach, we know they're going to be good at the end of the year. We have to establish ourselves and if there's room for us to try and make up some ground or show that we're for real and be there at the end, I think we're doing that."
Still, Stackhouse believes the Celtics are a team that can't be taken for granted.
"Even with the new pieces, there are some champions over there," he said.
Maybe so, but they certainly aren't playing like ones.
Far too often, they have played a weak brand of basketball that doesn't resemble what Celtics fans have come to know and expect from them in recent years.
Garnett, well aware of the historical relevance of his play and those that donned the C's uniforms before him, does not take any of that for granted.
Getting some of his teammates to understand this is among the many challenges that lie ahead for both him and the Celtics.
"There's a lot of people who built this before me; there's due diligence and responsibility that comes with that," Garnett said. "We gotta get that back somehow."

Game notes: Patriots 27, Steelers 16

Game notes: Patriots 27, Steelers 16

Postgame notes from the Patriots' 27-16 victory over the Steelers, courtesy of the Pats' P.R. department:


-- The Patriots are 6-1 and have won at least six of their first seven games for the eighth time in team history and the sixth time under coach Bill Belichick. The Pats started 7-0 in 2007 and 2015, and 6-1 in 1974, 1980, 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2016.

-- The Patriots extended their franchise record of games at the start of a season without an interception to seven. (The previous team record was four, set last year.) The NFL record is nine, set by the 1960 Browns, and the 2008 Redskins had eight.


-- Rob Gronkowski tied Stanley Morgan's franchise record for most touchdowns (68) and most touchdown receptions (67).

-- The TD pass caught by Gronkowski was the 66th he's caught from Tom Brady, putting the two of them in seventh place in NFL history for most quarterback-to-receiver touchdowns. They trail Peyton Manning/Marvin Harrison (112), Steve Young/Jerry Rice (85), Dan Marino/Mark Clayton (79), Philip Rivers/Antonio Gates (79), Drew Brees/Marques Colson (72) and Manning/Reggie Wayne (67). Sunday's Brady-to-Gronkowski TD broke a tie at 65 with Jim Kelly/Andre Reed.

-- Gronkowski now has 5,930 career receiving yards, 14th-best among tight ends in NFL history. His 93 yards Sunday moved him past Todd Heap (5,869) and Todd Christensen (5,872).

-- LeGarrette Blount rushed for 127 yards, his third 100-yard game of the season and 13th of his career.