By: Rich Levine
WALTHAM Doc Rivers isnt blaming anyone for the Celtics' recent struggles.
If anything, he says he can only blame himself for the mental lapses and general apathy that led to the teams latest frustrating lossFriday night against the Bobcatsas well as their overall inconsistent play down the stretch.
But while not blaming any specific player, Rivers says that its up to four players to help the team collectively overcome. And not just any four, the Big Four.
Im not blaming anybody, but it is their responsibility, always, Rivers said before practice on Saturday. It always starts with your best players, and everyone else follows. Thats how we constructed this team, on purpose. It was the Big 3, and now Rondos been added to that group, and they all have their own responsibilities.
Touching more on the recent slump, and the post-game interview when he called the Celtics out for being selfish, Rivers was very clear on where the the issues lie, but also reassured that he has complete confidence in his team pulling through.
Its all mental, he said. Theres no physical.
We just have to play better and act better. Well get there. I have no doubt about that. But were not there right now.
Ray Allen believes that the key to breaking through these mental blocks lies in the art of communication. This Celtics team has never shied away from being brutally honest with each other. Its the reason theyve been able to achieve so much in the face of other turmoil over the last three-plusand theyre not about to stop now.
You come into the locker room, you look your teammates in the eye, and you conversate, Allen said. Communication is big because on the flip side of it, on bad teams, you come in the locker room and youre mad at everybody but on our team you just come in and have a conversation. You might not even talk about the game, you just have to remember to stay brothers and communicate.
You just have to take whatever it is, and move forward, in terms of criticism.
And he agrees with Doc that moving forward is only possible if the Big Four takes them there.
Between the four of us we need to play better. Whether its making a shot down the stretch or making a defensive stop, we have to be better. We have to be vocal because were trying to get other to understand what were doing, Theres no point when you cant be a leader, both on and off the floor.
On the other hand, Rajon Rondo isnt ready to put as much of the burden on the teams stars. He obviously realizes that the team can only be better if he, Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett do, but also thinks that only way they can get through the tough times is if the entire team steps up.
Its up to the team, he said. It starts with me, it starts with them but its still a team game, no one guy is going to win it for us. Statistically you could say its the Big Three, but its a team effort.
Everybody has to do a better job of just taking care what they have to take care of individually, he continued. We all have to take a look in the mirror and get better. Its frustrating right after the game but today is a new day. Weve got to look forward.
And with the Celtics set to take the court against Sunday night in Minnesota, Rondo knows theres only one way to make that happen.
With a win, he said.