Celtics fight to balance present with future

Celtics fight to balance present with future
April 11, 2013, 1:15 pm
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MIAMI  — In the moments that followed Boston's 101-93 home loss to Brooklyn on Wednesday, Celtics head man Doc Rivers didn't mince his words when talking about how the Nets "took it to us."

"They had a clear sense of purpose," Rivers said. "I thought we kind of showed up to play."

Not having a clear sense of purpose is among the many concerns the Celtics have as they head into these final four regular-season games and, from there, into the playoffs.

You hear words like "continuity" and "rhythm" used by Celtics players to describe what they're looking to accomplish in these remaining regular-season games.

It sounds good, but what does that really mean?

And is four games enough to achieve that?

And if you plan to keep Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce fresh for the playoffs, how can you do that AND establish the kind of team-wide continuity and rhythm that's necessary to be successful in the playoffs?

Those are just some of the many questions the Celtics have to be asking themselves at this point in the season.

The fact that there are no clear-cut answers to any of them underscores how challenging this stretch of the season can be for a team like Boston to play with a clearly defined sense of purpose.

Boston will likely finish with the seventh seed, a position that's unlikely to change regardless of how it fares in these final games.

But because the C's have given away so many games this season and have a number of players still learning how to be effective on the floor together, the value in playing guys who otherwise would sit or see limited action, is immense.

And one of the biggest side effects in trying to balance all that is for there to be an unclear sense of purpose, which is what was evident against the Nets and has the potential to become an issue in the playoffs.

"You gotta understand, we have to raise our intensity at this point in the season," said Paul Pierce. "We gotta start prepping our mind, our mindset, our game plan and everything we do for the playoffs."

Kevin Garnett will be the first to tell you that establishing the kind of mindset needed for success in the postseason is indeed a trait you want to hone this time of year.

But all this talk about the playoffs, he says, is more harmful than helpful right now.

"We're focusing on too much of the playoffs and that's not here yet," Garnett said. "We need to focus and lock in on these games that we have left and put our energy behind that."

Listening to Garnett and Pierce speak is like hearing a Congressional debate in which both sides of the aisle have accurately identified the problem, but offer up two significantly different solutions to fix it.

And for the sake of the Celtics and their postseason aspirations, they better hope they can figure this out better - and sooner - than the folks on Capital Hill.