CHICAGO With a slew of veterans with varying levels of experience, the Boston Celtics have the appearance of a veteran team.
But as Celtics coach Doc Rivers points out, there's more to having a veteran team than simply throwing together a bunch of guys who have been around the NBA block a few times.
"Where I think people get mixed up, there's a difference between a veteran team and a lot of veterans on a team," Rivers said. "This is not a veteran team. This team hasn't been together."
That is quite apparent in their up-and-down play that has them at just 12-11 heading into Wednesday's game against a red-hot Chicago Bulls team that comes into tonight's game at Memphis having won five of their last six games.
With so many new faces, Rivers was optimistic that they would develop a good rhythm about their play quickly.
But more than a quarter of the way through this season, it's clear that has not happened yet.
Rivers pointed to fatigue as a potential factor in the team's play following Saturday's loss at San Antonio.
While players did indeed look a step or two slow most of the game, Rivers is more concerned with the Celtics being worn down mentally rather than physically being tired.
The team watched video from the loss at San Antonio prior to practice on Monday, with Rivers acknowledging that many of the miscues they made in the Spurs loss had more to do with them simply not being as strong as they need to be mentally.
That was at the heart of why they could get close to the Spurs but consistently failed to get over the hump either with a score, a rebound or a defensive stop, that was needed.
When teams are out of shape physically, having them run more usually does the trick.
But mental fatigue? That's a tricky one, for sure.
"You work on habits, you have to improve your habits," Rivers said. "We see it on film. We'll do it. And then we never sustain it."
Said Brandon Bass: "We know what we need to do. We just need to keep on doing it for longer stretches, that's all."
The Dallas Mavericks are in some ways like the Celtics in terms of adding a lot of new faces to their roster this season.
And like Boston, they too have not had the kind of early-season success they are used to.
The injury to Dirk Nowitzki has certainly been a factor in them not getting off to the best of starts. But coach Rick Carlisle would be remiss if he didn't acknowledge that having a lot of new faces -- even if they have prior NBA experience -- only adds to the learning curve needed in order to be a team that plays consistently.
"It just takes time," Carlisle told CSNNE.com. "I know fans don't like to hear that, but it's true. Obviously every team is different. But the better teams out there will figure it out sooner or later. And Boston is one of those teams."