Wallace: Celtics lacked 'effort' vs. 76ers

Wallace: Celtics lacked 'effort' vs. 76ers
October 11, 2013, 11:30 pm

NEWARK, Del. — Some of the offseason moves made by the Philadelphia 76ers were head-scratchers, like trading away their lone all-star (Jrue Holiday) for the draft rights to Nerlens Noel, a rail-thin big man who is still recovering from a torn ACL injury,  and a future first-round pick from the New Orleans Pelicans.

Soon after that trade was made, "tanking" became a synonymous word with Sixers in the minds of many.

Maybe some of the Celtics came into Friday's game thinking that too, which may have been a contributing factor in the Sixers having so little trouble in keeping the Celtics winless after they pulled away in the fourth for a 97-85 victory.

"We started the game off like, like we were cool and we were supposed to win this game," said Celtics forward Gerald Wallace. "And they were just going to hand us the game and they came out and hit us dead in the mouth."

Boston head coach Brad Stevens knows his players did not put forth their best effort on Friday. But that grouping did not include Wallace, whose 3-pointer in the fourth quarter brought the Celtics within five points, which was the closest they would get for the remainder of the game.

"He's doing a great job leading in that regard," Stevens said of Wallace who had nine points, four rebounds and three assists off the bench. "And we have a lot of guys that are doing good things, but we have a lot to improve on."

Said Wallace: "We just have to get everybody playing with the same effort.  We didn't start the game playing with effort; we didn't start the game playing together. We were five individuals out there playing against a Philadelphia team, they jumped on us quick. They ran the ball right down our throats. We started looking at one another, trying to figure out what was going on. And the whole time they were continuing to run at us, just attack us."

Stevens will continue to tinker with lineups, but pretty soon he has to figure out a starting five to go with that will try to do what none of the first three have - set the tone for success at the start of games.

Boston has found itself playing from behind early in each of its first three games, unable to put together the kind of consistent play at both ends of the floor needed to establish themselves as the team to dictate the pace and tempo of the game.

"If you look at it, we haven't started (games) great," said Stevens whose team has trailed at the half in each of their three preseason games. "I don't know if it's four out six halves now but it's certainly most of the halves ... we need to start better."

And it doesn't get any easier for the Celtics as they gear up for their first set of back-to-back games with a Saturday night matchup against the New York Knicks in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Regardless of whether it's a second game of a back-to-back, Wallace anticipates Saturday's game to be a tough one.

"We played a Philadelphia team that isn't quite as good as New York," Wallace said. "If we continue to play like this, we're going to get embarrassed every night. Teams like New York and Miami and guys like that who been together for a while, who've had guys play together for a while, they're going to embarrass us every night and I'm not trying to get embarrassed. We have to figure out how we can do this as a team, bring everybody together, be on the same page and start building something."