Rivers: It's an error if Celtics are relying on history


Rivers: It's an error if Celtics are relying on history

ATLANTA With the all-star break less than a month away, the Boston Celtics find themselves for the second year straight year fighting their way from a sub-.500 hole record-wise.

That team rebounded with a strong regular season finish after the all-star break that catapulted them into the postseason and eventually the Eastern Conference finals.

While there are indeed parallels to be drawn between the two, it becomes a dangerous comparison if relied upon too much.

And no matter how much Doc Rivers preaches that this team is different than that, his fellow coaching brethren repeatedly remind him that the C's have had their problems during past regular seasons only to play some of their best basketball when the games truly mattered - the playoffs.

"Not this group," Rivers said following Friday's 123-111 double overtime loss at Atlanta. "The groups in the past, yeah, we had to do that. We had to not play Shaq many minutes, or rest Rasheed (Wallace, now with the New York Knicks) and Kevin (Garnett) and Ray (Allen, now with the Miami Heat) and Paul (Pierce). We got nine new guys here. They've never done this."

But Rivers wouldn't rule out that some of his players may in fact be relying on the C's track record for bouncing back from slow starts, as for the reason they don't play more consistently or with a greater sense of urgency.

"They may be thinking that," Rivers said. "If they are, it's an error."

Kevin Garnett agrees that past success doesn't necessarily make it an accurate predictor of the future.

During the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 season, the Celtics went into the all-star break with a record of 15-17 only to emerge from it by posting a 24-10 record.

"Man, we can't rely on that," Garnett said. "That's the past. This is a whole different group of guys. Guys in the past, that's the past. We're dealing with the present. If we're sitting around waiting on that, then that's a joke. It's about now. It's not about tomorrow, it's about now. Everybody has to look at themselves and see what they can do better to help this team."

Rajon Rondo was instrumental in the Celtics' ability to turn around their season a year ago.

Ditto for Garnett, whose move to center full-time was arguably the biggest adjustment the C's made during their post all-star break surge last season.

But this season has presented the Celtics with a different set of challenges that will make the team's efforts to rebound from a poor start that much tougher.

Boston lost games last season in part because they rested players, similar to San Antonio's Gregg Popovich has done at times this season with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

But there has been no reduction in minutes or sitting core guys this season.

Which means they may not necessarily be as fresh for this second half run as they were last year or in past seasons.

'I don't try to compare any teams of the past of how we turned things around," Rondo said. "It's a different year."

But there is one thing he would like to carry over from past turn-arounds.

"Like in the past, we do have to stay positive," Rondo said. "Try to continue to move forward and dig our way out of this hole."

Has Isaiah Thomas proven that he deserves a max deal?

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Gary Tanguay, Lou Merloni, Michael Felger and Bob Ryan debate if Isaiah Thomas has proven that he deserves a max deal with the Celtics.

Bulls' point guard counsel spun to Isaiah Canaan in Game 4

Bulls' point guard counsel spun to Isaiah Canaan in Game 4

CHICAGO – The point guard carousel continues to swirl for the Chicago Bulls who will now give Isaiah Canaan a try as they continue to search for a suitable replacement for Rajon Rondo (right thumb) who is out indefinitely.

Canaan, a seldom-used backup this season, came off the bench and provided a major spark for the Bulls in 34 fairly productive minutes. 

He led all Chicago bench players with 13 points on 4-for-10 shooting which included a 3-for-7 showing from 3-point range. 

More than anything, Canaan looked like a serviceable playmaker which is a huge, huge upgrade to what Chicago got out of Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams. 

Grant, who struggled mightily in Game 3 as well, was not ready for the moment. He couldn’t make shots, slow down Isaiah Thomas or impact the game other than negatively for the Bulls which is why Fred Hoiberg benched him after less than five minutes of court time. The dude had a plus/minus of -10 in less than five minutes (four minutes, 41 seconds to be exact).

The Bulls will need better play than that to have any shot at winning, which is why Hoiberg named Canaan the starter and not Michael Carter-Williams who like Grant, struggled in Games 3 and 4. 

“I really thought he (Canaan) did a good job picking up the ball and pressuring the point a full 94 feet," Hoiberg said. "I thought his initial ball pressure was good. We have to get off to a much better start if we want to have any chance of winning another game in this series. That’s two games in a row now we’ve gotten ourselves down 20 points and fought all the way back. Game 3 cut it to 1. Last night we took the lead and then had five empty possessions in a row where they scored on the other end. You spend so much energy digging out of that hole. We need to do a better job of using that energy in a better start."

Playing with energy may become an issue for Canaan who readily admits that not being in the regular rotation while racking up a bunch of DNP-CDs this season made it more challenging for him in Game 4 to get into a good flow. 

"The way I play, I was more worried about my wind,” Canaan told reporters. “God helped me out as much as possible. I’m looking forward to that next game and getting that rhythm back."