Doc: 'We can be very, very good'


Doc: 'We can be very, very good'

BOSTON - Eight preseason games down, an 82-game regular season and a playoff run to go for the Celtics.

In spite of a 3-5 record, often the result of resting players and experimenting with various rotations, coach Doc Rivers has a very optimistic outlook for his team less than two weeks away from Opening Night.

"That I like I team, thats it," he said following the Celtics preseason finale, an 88-79 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. "I do. I like the team. Like I said before, I think we still will have to be a better defensive team consistently to be a great team. And I think theres a lot of growth in our team. So how fast we do it, who knows. Well figure that out as the season goes along. But if we do grow in all the different ways we can play, everyone kind of gets it, I think we can be very, very good."

Rivers has more options on his roster than he has had in years. Rather than a set starting five and clear cut second and third units, Rivers has the flexibility to tinker with different combinations based on opposing matchups. After being forced to insert bench players into the starting lineup due to injuries in recent seasons, he now has multiple options at various positions.

Once Avery Bradley returns after recovering from shoulder surgery, either he or Courtney Lee could start at the two spot (Jason Terry will most likely keep his award-winning role as a sixth man). In the immediate future, Rivers will look at veteran Brandon Bass or rookie Jared Sullinger for the starting power forward role. Both had solid training camps, both give Rivers versatility.

"I do think this is going to be an unusual team in that I dont think well have a starting lineup for most of the year," said Rivers. "I think we may move that one guy around a lot.

Rivers said he didn't discover any surprises throughout training camp, which kicked off in Europe. He praised the play of rookie Kris Joseph -- "I thought he played terrific and we put him in terrible positions" -- and noted Jeff Green's performance after missing last season because of heart surgery.

"Weve got the kind of team, you kind of know what they do," Rivers said.

He believes that could lead to a very promising season.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

Tune into CSN to watch the Celtics host the Hornets at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by McDonald's on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

BOSTON -- The last time Boston saw the Charlotte Hornets last month, both teams were streaking in the wrong direction with each coming in having lost three in a row.

Both come into tonight’s game streaking, although in two very different directions.

Boston (25-15) has won 12 of its last 15 games to firmly establish itself as the third-best team in the East behind Cleveland and Toronto. Meanwhile the Hornets (20-20) are on the cusp of falling below .500 for the first time this season after losing their last four games.

Still, Celtics coach Brad Stevens has seen enough of this Hornets team to know that a win tonight won’t come easily.

“This is a good team,” Stevens said. “We all know Charlotte. They don’t beat themselves. We’ve had to play really well against those guys. This is going to be a tough one, as we all know.”

Figuring out why these two teams are trending in opposite directions isn’t all that complicated.

For the Celtics, their success of late has hinged heavily on their ability to make 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s problems have had a lot to do with a tough slate of road games (all four of their recent losses were on the road) and their inability to make shots which has been an issue in some form for them all season regardless of the opponent.

Look at the last four games, all of which the Hornets lost while the Celtics won three of their four games in that span.

The Hornets rank 21st in scoring with a 101.5 points per game average while the Celtics average 110.8 points which ranks 8th in the league.

Charlotte ranks dead-last in the league the last four games when it comes to shooting the ball (40.5 percent), while Boston comes in 18th at 46.0 percent.

But it’s the 3-point shot and its impact on having an effective field goal percentage, that really separates these two.

Boston has averaged a league-best 15.3 made 3-pointers in the last four games while the Hornets and their 9.8 made 3’s ranks 20th.

And as far as its impact on eFG%, Boston comes in with the eighth-best eFG% in the league (54.8 percent) while the Hornets next-to-last in the NBA with an eFG% of .462.

So what does that mean tonight?

Boston will look to continue being fueled offensively by good ball movement and attacking the rim which in turn should result in lots of good looks from 3-point range which is clearly a strength of this team.

Charlotte will search for other sources of offense besides former UConn star Kemba Walker who is on the short list of candidates for a spot on this year’s Eastern Conference all-star roster.

As was the case in Charlotte’s 102-93 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, an off-night shooting for Walker (17 points, 7-for-23 shooting with three assists) left the Hornets extremely vulnerable to defeat. Similar struggles tonight will provide a similar ending for Charlotte which would allow both teams to continue streaking along … something the Celtics wouldn’t mind at all.