Doc: 'Our execution the whole game was terrible'

559944.jpg

Doc: 'Our execution the whole game was terrible'

BOSTON The assumption is that if you have a veteran team that has played hundreds of games together, they develop an innate understanding of how to play off one another, especially in close games.

But the Boston Celtics are living proof of how no amount of time spent in the past playing with one another can replicate the benefits of having practice time working on how to close out games, which the C's could not do on Thursday in losing 88-87 to the Los Angeles Lakers in overtime.

The C's had a chance to put the game away on two separate occasions, but failed to do so.

Near the end of regulation, the Celtics' Paul Pierce couldn't get a shot off for himself or Ray Allen. Pierce stopped his dribble too soon, which threw off the play's timing. The ball eventually wound up in the hands of Mickael Pietrus, who had to fire a desperation heave that just barely left his hands prior to the final horn of regulation sounding.

And in overtime, Pierce once again had a chance to lift the Celtics to victory. His fade-away jumper rimmed in and out, but the loose ball managed to wind up in the hands of Allen. He quickly got a shot up, only to have it rejected by Pau Gasol.

You have to give the Lakers defense their due. They did a really good job of making life tough as possible for all of Boston's shooters, which isn't all that surprising when you consider their scoring defense is ranked fourth in the NBA, while the C's are No. 1.

But there were too many opportunities, too many chances for Boston to win had they made a play or two down the stretch -- something their fans have grown accustomed to seeing.

"Our execution the whole game was terrible," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "This was an awful game, except for they won. If we had won it, it would've been an awful game that we had won. That's how I felt."

"For the most part," Kevin Garnett added, "I thought when we needed to get stops, we got stops. It came down to overtime. If you're in your building, that's what you want."

While there's no rhyme or reason as to why the Celtics seemed so off their game, Rivers isn't the least bit worried or ready to panic.

"It's called basketball," Rivers said. "Really. It happens. It happens in a playoff game. So I am disappointed, and I'm not happy with it, but it's not like it's been a trend."

Pierce, who led the Celtics with 18 points, said the C's had trouble getting into the kind of sets they wanted to, and having the ball where they wanted it to go.

"We were somewhat helter-skelter," said Allen. "But we still felt we had good control."

"We played too much random pick-and-roll basketball," said Pierce.

And that was among the contributing factors to the team's offensive woes.

"We weren't able to get to the hole," Pierce said. "We tried to get to the foul line. We only shot five free throws."

And all those free throws -- all five of 'em -- came in the first half.

Fortunately -- or unfortunately depending on how you look at it -- the Celtics have no time to lick their wounds after a disappointing loss.

The Celtics are in Toronto for tonight's game against the Raptors.

"That's the good and bad thing about our league right now; you have so much time to get over it," said Rivers, sarcastically.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

bruins_tuukka_rask_110315.jpg

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.