Doc: 'We can be very, very good'

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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.

Isaiah Thomas' recent shooting woes mirror those of Celtics

Isaiah Thomas' recent shooting woes mirror those of Celtics

BOSTON – As Isaiah Thomas walked off the TD Garden floor Monday night in the fourth quarter of the Celtics' 114-98 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the All-Star guard’s franchise streak of 43 games with 20 or more points scored was about to end.
 
Credit the Hawks, whose defense made life miserable for Thomas most of the game, limiting him to 4-for-21 shooting (19 percent) which stands as the worst shooting night for Thomas as Celtic when he has taken at least 10 shots from the field.
 
Thomas chalks up his struggles Monday as just one of those bad nights that comes from time to time in an 82-game season, but it’s part of what has been a stretch of inefficient shooting games for him.
 
And it’s not a coincidence that the Celtics (38-22) have lost three of their past four at the same time Thomas finds himself in one of his worst four-game stretches for shooting the ball this season.
 
In fact, Thomas has shot just 35.4 percent from the field in Boston’s past four games. In that span, he has made less than 45 percent of his shots in each game, which is only the second time this season he has had a four-game stretch like that.
 
And while defenses certainly give him more attention than any other Celtic, he’s still getting to the spots he wants to get to while taking the shots that are best for him.
 
The only difference of late, is that more shots are off the mark than previously.
 
“I missed a lot of shots in the paint. I got where I wanted to,” Thomas said. “That wasn’t just me; that was our team. We missed a lot of shots we normally make.”
 
Which is why there’s no sense of panic or heightened concern on the part of the Celtics heading into their game Wednesday night against the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
 
Boston rookie Jaylen Brown was quick to credit Atlanta for doing a good job defensively against the Celtics.
 
But he too recognized that at times they were their own worst enemy with all of the blown opportunities.
 
“We missed a bunch of easy shots and I think that is just focus,” Brown said. “We’re not going to hit every shot every game, but I do expect us to play a little bit better than what we did and I think we’re more capable of being a bit more locked in. It happens; you just got to forget about it and bounce back Wednesday against Cleveland.”