Doc: 'We have to make more improvements'

777422.jpg

Doc: 'We have to make more improvements'

BOSTON Two games into the Eastern Conference finals and much of the talk has been about officiating.
For the Boston Celtics, that's almost never a good thing.
Regardless of how the first two games -- both Celtic losses -- have been called, they're done with.
Over.
The C's have no choice but to move on, because dwelling on the past doesn't do them a bit of good moving forward with a Game 3 matchup on Friday night that is indeed a must-win game.
Having lost the first two games, a third straight loss would put the Celtics in the kind of hole that no team in NBA history has ever been able to successfully dig themselves from underneath.
"We'll get past that distraction," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "I think we've already moved past it and by (Game 3), we'll be ready to play."
The bigger challenge for the C's coming into Game 3, is getting past the disappointment of their 115-111 overtime loss in Game 2, a game in which the C's did pretty much all that they felt needed to be done in order to win.
"We still know we have to play better," Rivers said. "Our guys are very confident going into Game 3."
That confidence to some degree stems from the play of Rajon Rondo, who had a game for the ages -- 44 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.
"Where I was happy with, Rondo had one of his best games in not predetermining what he wanted to do," Rivers said. "He took what they gave him, and made something from that. Of all the adjustments he made from Game 1 to Game 2, that was it. If they gave him the elbow jump shot, he took it. If they got on him, he drove. If they tried to double, he made the pass. He didn't predetermine his game, and he stayed aggressive, in attack mode. I thought that was very important for him."
So was getting Paul Pierce to be more assertive in Game 2. Pierce finished with 21 points on a number of jumpers, lay-ups and dunks.
Even with more aggressive play, the Celtics still came up well short on free throw attempts (29) in comparison to the Heat (47).
"Not gonna touch that, I can tell you that." Rivers said. "Paul Pierce attacked just as much as LeBron James attacked (in Game 2). I'll leave it at that."
The focus for the Celtics now is to continue finding ways to get better, and most important, find a way to win.
"We made improvements from Game 1 to Game 2," Rivers said. "We have to make more improvements from Game 2 to Game 3. I think we will."

It was still a banner year for Celtics, according to Bleacher Report tweet

It was still a banner year for Celtics, according to Bleacher Report tweet


Minutes after the Celtics were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, the folks at Bleacher Report tweeted a video that celebrated the C’s one victory in the series. 

Ouch. 

There are 17 Celtics championship banners that actually exist and hang at TD Garden. You won’t be seeing one for being a “finalist” or celebrating an actual sweep, such as Spurs over Cavs in the NBA Finals.

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

BOSTON -- Prior to this year, the Celtics hadn't been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012. That trip served as a curtain call of sorts for the last great C's dynasty.
 
But this one, which ended with Cleveland's emphatic 135-102 Game 5 victory Thursday at TD Garden, is very different.

MORE CELTICS

 
Rather than closing another chapter in the Celtics' longstanding legacy of greatness, it could serve as the beginning of a new narrative in the franchise's steady growth.
 
"For us to be in the Eastern Conference finals after the first year of this team really being together, adding additions like Al Horford and Gerald Green . . . I can go down the list of guys that we needed to learn to play with, and for us to talk about where we wanted to be and actually make it, it's a big-time accomplishment," said Avery Bradley.
 
Boston has been among the younger teams in the NBA, with the 31-year-old Green being the oldest player on the roster.
 
But what the Celtics lacked in experience, they made up for with great effort.
 
"The great thing about this is the experience," Bradley said. "We were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learned a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it's going to help us for next year."
 
But as we all know, the Celtics will look to strengthen themsevles this offseason, which means there's a very good chance they'll have a different look when they gather again in the fall.
 
How different is anyone's guess.
 
"It's difficult every year whenever you don't have guys back," said coach Brad Stevens. "I think you share a bond (over the course of a season)."
 
Stevens and this group have been together for eight months. Eight months of struggles, successes, frustrating defeats and euphoric victories that brought them to the conference finals, which is where their season came to an end.
 
But as disappointed as the players and coaches are inow, there's definite excitement about this franchise in the very near future.
 
Boston has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, with all indications -- for now -- pointing to Washington's Markelle Fultz as their choice.
 
And their top first-round pick from a year ago, Jaylen Brown, seemed to steadily improve as the season progressed. It was one of the few times in his life where minutes weren't just handed to him, which he admits was a learning experience unlike anything he had ever had, yet he adjusted and played better as the year went along.

"I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had opportunities, I've had mistakes," said Brown. "So I've been learning and growing and improving all year and I'm going to continue growing and improving and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong."
 
Having the season end the way it did has indeed left a bad taste in the mouths of many Celtics.
 
"I can use it as fuel," Brown said, adding: "I want to get back to the same place I'm at now."
 
Bradley, who was on the 2012 team that lost to the Miami Heat in the conference finals, knows the Celtics are going to do whatever they feel is necessary to give them the best chance at competing for a title.
 
"It's out of our control as players," Bradley said. "We had a great year together. If guys are here, if guys aren't, we all wish the best for each other.

"But I do feel this is a special group. We all gave our heart every single night, played as hard as we could. I respect all my teammates, and I really appreciated playing with all the guys I had a chance to play with this year; a special group."