Pierce: 'We need better communication'

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Pierce: 'We need better communication'

WALTHAM The sound of squeaky sneakers, Kevin Garnett barking out instructions and Rajon Rondo's voice raising a few octaves, is blaring out of the walls surrounding where the Boston Celtics practice.
It is the kind of vocal practice that C's head coach Doc Rivers would love to bottle up and then unleash on game day.
Transferring that high level of communication from practice to games -- particularly on defense -- is among the challenges that lie ahead for the Boston Celtics.
"We have to do a better job of talking to each other," said C's forward Paul Pierce. "Transition defense, number one. That's something that we emphasized (Thursday) morning, we need better communication."
And the obvious reason given for the communication breakdowns is the C's having a relatively new roster.
Of the 15 players Boston has around, only four -- Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Chris Wilcox (whose season was cut short because of heart surgery) -- were with the club last season.
While players and the C's coaching staff agree that part of their struggles has to do with so many new faces, there were many more problematic aspects of their season-opening loss.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said players understand the concepts that he and his staff are installing.
"The concepts are not hard; the trust is harder," Celtics coach Doc Rivers told CSNNE.com. "The trust part, not wanting to change, not wanting to do the easy way out, that'll be in time. It's going to take some time. I still want them to be offensive-minded, but I also want them to play our team defense."
And he's not speaking to just the new guys, either.
Boston's problems defensively are a team-wide issue.
That's why Rajon Rondo is so quick to acknowledge that the team's lackluster play defensively in the opener at Miami should not be totally blamed on the new guys.
"It wasn't just those guys, it was myself, Kevin, who was thinking a lot," Rondo said. "That stretch in the third quarter, I was thinking too much. It's not just the new guys, it's the core as well. We'll get better, starting tomorrow."
If Boston is to once again be among the NBA's top teams defensively, several players are going to have to find their loquacious side.
Better communication defensively is among the many talking points that Rivers preaches to his players about every season.
"You have to," Rivers said. "It's the only way the guy guarding the ball, knows what's going on. If the guy about to set the pick isn't yelling it out, how is he going to know what's happening behind him? It makes common sense, but you would be amazed at how many people don't do it."
"That's part of the game; communication, being on the same page, coming in here," said Pierce. "You see how everybody is talking to each other now? That's how it has to be on the court."

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics surge at end of second quarter

BOSTON –  For the second time in as many games, the Boston Celtics were hosting a team eager to get off a losing skid.

But a strong surge near the end of the second quarter gave the Celtics a 65-56 halftime lead over Portland which came into the night having lost four straight.

Boston opened with a 12-4 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Jae Crowder – his second within the game’s first couple minutes.

But the Blazers were being carried by C.J. McCollum, half of the most explosive backcourt in the NBA. His 12 first-quarter points were crucial to keeping the Blazers within 28-26 at the end of the quarter.

McCollum continued to out-perform everyone else on the floor, even Isaiah Thomas who had a quieter than usual first half.

But the 5-foot-9 Thomas continued to make all the plays needed to put the Celtics back on top courtesy of a 12-3 run that put them ahead 57-49 with 1:55 to play in the half.

From there, Boston was able to maintain control of the game.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Saturday’s game.

 

STARS

C.J. McCollum

While there’s still talk about whether Damian Lillard will be an All-Star this year, McCollum has played well enough to where he’s at least worthy of a mention in the All-Star conversation. He certainly carried Portland in the first half with 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

As usual, Thomas drew a considerable amount of attention from the opposing defense. And slowly but surely, he found cracks that he could exploit. At the half, he had 17 points, four assists and three rebounds, one of which was an offensive board that he put-back in for a lay-up.

 

STUDS

Jae Crowder

He put the Celtics on a good path from the outset, knocking down a couple 3’s in the first couple of minutes. He finished the half with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting which included a trio of 3-pointers.

Meyers Leonard

He was 3-for-4 in the first half which included a pair of powerful dunks over Boston’s Jordan Mickey. At the half he had eight points and two rebounds.

 

DUDS

Damian Lillard

It was a rough half for the two-time All-Star, tallying just three points on 1-for-5 shooting. A big part of his problem? Foul trouble. He played just 10 minutes in the first half due in large part to having three personal fouls.