Rondo a 'sore loser' as C's struggle with trust defensively

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Rondo a 'sore loser' as C's struggle with trust defensively

WALTHAM The losing ways of the Boston Celtics has impacted the entire team - even if they all don't necessarily show it.

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers has been around the game too long to get too caught up in how players are expressing their disappointment in the team's lackluster play thus far.

"I don't notice," Rivers said. "I don't know what that does. You still have to learn from losing and learn from winning at the same time. Clearly there are guys who are more emotional than others. That doesn't mean the other guys take it just as poorly. I've learned you don't read into that."

One player who isn't taking the Celtics losing too well is Rajon Rondo, who will be the first to acknowledge that he's a "sore loser."

The C's (14-17) are very much a team in search-and-recovery mode as far as searching for an identity that they hope will recover some of the success they anticipated having this season.

Rondo said the search for who they are as a team isn't the most frustrating aspect of what's happening this season.

"The frustrating part is we're losing," he said. "Regardless of how many combinations we've had, how many different starting lineups we've had, we're still losing. I'm a sore loser. It's tough to lose."

Avoiding that feeling won't get any easier with the Indiana Pacers coming to town on Friday and a road game at Atlanta the following night.

"I'm a confident player. We're a confident team," Rondo said. "We just haven't found our way now."

In some ways, the Celtics' struggles this year are similar to what they dealt with a year ago when they advanced to within one game of getting to the NBA Finals.

Sitting on a 14-16 record now, the Celtics were just 15-15 at this same point last season.

But as players and coaches will attest to, this is a different season and the Celtics are a different team.

"Right now, we're at a tough point in the season," Rondo said. "We've lost four in a row. We have some big games coming up. It's not an easy stretch."

For the Celtics' season-worst four game losing skid to end, it will require something that we haven't seen much of this season - trust defensively.

Rondo breaks it down.

"Say a guard gets beat off the dribble and KG comes to help. And the other guard, the weak-side guard, is supposed to crack back down on his big," Rondo explains. "Say KG tries to contest the shot, his man gets the offensive rebound for a lay-up. It's kind of hard to trust. He might be hesitant to help the guard when he gets beat off the dribble because he's worried about his man who the opposite guard didn't crack back on.

Professor Rondo's not done.

"Or say me and Paul are in a pick and roll, and I'm thinking he'll switch and he doesn't switch, then my man turns the corner ... there's a lot of different roles they can play in, breaking down trust defensively. It all comes with being on the same page. And right now, all five guys on the court are not. Maybe two or three guys know the rotation and what we're doing, but the other two may not and it leads to easy buckets."

Regardless of the reason, the end result far too often has been the Celtics coming up short which has Rivers continuing his search for the right buttons to push to get the C's back on track.

"You look at some of our seasons, we've had some great ones and some rocky ones and turn out to be good at the end," Rivers said. "But there's no guarantee. You can't push the button from last year or past years and assume that it's going to come. So every year it's hard in that way. You fight to get the guys back in their roles and this year, new guys to buy into their roles and your system; buy into less minutes. I don't think any year is any harder."

Strahan picks Steelers to upset Patriots in AFC Championship

Strahan picks Steelers to upset Patriots in AFC Championship

Michael Strahan saw the Patriots lose a Super Bowl first-hand, but he doesn’t think they’ll lose Super Bowl LI. That’s because he doesn’t think they’ll be participants. 

Appearing on The Tonight Show, the former Giants defensive end and current Person Who is Frequently on Television said that he expects the Steelers to upset the Patriots in Sunday’s AFC Championship.

“I think in the AFC, I think Pittsburgh might pull the upset this year,” Strahan said. 

When Jimmy Fallon objected, Strahan said Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ pass rush would be enough to beat the Pats if New England plays the way it did in the divisional round. 
 
“If you watched the Houston Texans, they had a shot; they just turned the ball over,” he said. “And the Houston Texans offense is in no way, shape or form near what Pittsburgh has. They don’t have the quarterback that [Pittsburgh has]. Defensively, Houston had the really good defense, but Pittsburgh [puts] the good pressure on the quarterback. And from my Super Bowl experience, Tom Brady does not like pressure. I’m just saying I feel like if there’s anybody who’s going to pull an upset, it will be them.” 

As for any rooting interest, Strahan said that he hopes the Falcons win the Super Bowl, citing Matt Ryan being overdue for a title and Julio Jones having a Brady-like quality of putting team goals before his own legacy.