Stevens: C's need to be 'a good 48-minute team'

Stevens: C's need to be 'a good 48-minute team'
October 16, 2013, 11:15 pm
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Brandon Bass (30) and Jeff Green try to deny the Raptors' Jonas Valacinuas the ball in C's 99-97 preseason loss in Toronto on Wednesday night.

(USA Today Sports)

TORONTO — There has been a lot of attention paid to the Celtics' struggles to start games.

But the last two nights have proven their end-of-game execution could use a bit of work ... Ok, a lot of work.

The Celtics came up short Wednesday in a 99-97 preseason loss to Toronto, the second time in as many nights they've lost by just two points.

Of course the circumstances of each nail-biting loss were different.

Still, the common thread of coming up short when it counted the most, speaks to how late-game execution is a major area in need of improvement between now and the start of the regular season for the Celtics.

This was among the messages coach Brad Stevens had for his players in the locker room after the loss, their fifth in six preseason games.

"We have to become a 48-minute team instead of 38-minute team," Stevens said. "We're pretty good for 38 minutes. We have to maintain that focus and level of play through that."

On Wednesday, the Celtics led by two points at the half and were in a back and forth battle through the bulk of the third quarter.

However, Boston found itself on the short end of an 11-0 run to close out the third which put them in an 80-70 hole going into the fourth.

While the losses were certainly disappointing, Celtics forward Jeff Green sees it as just part of this team's growth curve.

As much as the Celtics want to become a team that makes the right plays down the stretch, they must first establish that they are going to compete on a night-in, night-out basis.

Back-to-back losses on the road, each by two points is a start.

"We're going to fight until the end, basically," Green said. "That's what we do. We're going to keep playing until the end of the fourth quarter. We just have to keep at it."

When Green thinks about the loss on Wednesday, the 11-0 run they allowed Toronto to go on that ended the third quarter, sticks out prominently.

"We have to figure out a way to continue to apply pressure on the opposing team," Green said. "We had a good rhythm and we just let up."

Part of that rhythm that Green talks about involves the Celtics being able to play better defensively and with more force in order to close the gap that exists between their current play and them playing to their potential.

"We have to be aggressive," Green said. "We can't allow them to sit back and get the ball in the positions that they want to get them in. We have to continue to be aggressive, but we have to be smart."