Rivers: 'Selfish' Celts a 'me-first' team

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Rivers: 'Selfish' Celts a 'me-first' team

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Boston Celtics take pride in being a self-less group of players.

But something has changed. Something isn't quite what it used to be.

And this change, is definitely not one for the better.

The Charlotte Bobcats became the latest squad to hand the C's an unexpected defeat as they rallied in the fourth for an 83-81 win.

As you talk with the players, the reasons for the team's less-than-stellar play of late runs the gamut.

But of all the issues the C's face, none seems more paramount than the team's lack of ball movement.

Nowhere does this appear more obvious than the assists totals - or rather, lack of assists.

Against the Bobcats, the Celtics tallied just 15 assists - a number that Rajon Rondo has frequently racked up by himself.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers believes the struggles of late have a lot to do with the players being selfish, a stinging indictment that comes on the heels of him calling his team "soft" in the first half of Monday's win at New York.

When guys make mistakes, lately they tend to mope instead of making it right.

"Everything is 'me, me, me on our team right now," Rivers said. "Feeling sorry for themselves, instead of giving themselves to the team and playing. You can just see it manifest throughout the team. Until we can get through that, we will continue to have results like we had (Friday night)."

Kevin Garnett echoed similar sentiments following Friday's loss.

"Everybody is trying to do it themselves," Garnett said. "I know Doc is stressing ball movement to the whole group, the whole team. (Saturday) we'll go and watch the tape and try and better ourselves."

While the Celtics' defense gave up a staggering 30 points in the fourth quarter, they only gave up 83 for the game - a total that on most nights, should be enough to win.

Generating more scoring has been one of the C's biggest issues during this late-season lull that they're currently in.

While players don't completely buy into the idea that they're playing selfish basketball, even Paul Pierce acknowledged that it does happen "from time to time."

He added, "That's the reason why we don't shoot a high percentage, or score 100 points, because the ball is sticking when we usually make extra passes. That's when the offense is flowing, and we're able to get out there on a break and get easy opportunities. You haven't been seeing that, and that's why we're shooting a low percentage and that's why we're not scoring."

Or winning against teams like the Bobcats that the Celtics know they have no business losing to.

"I'm pretty sure they are over there and still can't believe they won this game," said Boston's Delonte West. "Disappointing how we closed it out, but that's us."

For now, he's right.

But this kind of basketball won't cut it, especially if the C's are to have any shot at bringing home Banner 18.

"We just have to figure out a way to come out of it," Garnett said. "Every team is going to go through little something. We all have to do this together. Everybody has to pick it up and change this."

Added Pierce: "We're all veterans; we've been here before, and we all know what it takes. It's got to come from each individual to take a look in the mirror, and look inside and decide if that's what they want to do. We can talk about it everyday, but until we look at ourselves in the mirror, that's what it's going to be."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

With Thomas drawing attention, Stevens turns to Rozier in big moment

BOSTON – Prior to Saturday’s game, Terry Rozier talked to CSNNE.com about the importance of staying ready always, because “you never know when your name or number is going to be called.”

Like when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter with less than 10 seconds to play?

Yes, Rozier was on the floor in that scenario and the second-year guard delivered when his team needed it.

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But Rozier’s fourth quarter heroics which forced overtime against Portland, did not provide that much-needed jolt that Boston needed as the Blazers managed to fend off the Celtics in overtime, 127-123.

For Rozier’s part, he had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

The 15 points scored for Rozier was the most for him since he tallied 16 in a 30-point Celtics win at Orlando on Dec. 7.

But more than the points, the decision by head coach Brad Stevens to draw up a play for him in that moment, a time when most of what Boston does revolves around the shooting of Isaiah Thomas who has been among the top-3 scorers in the fourth quarter most of this season, was surprising to many.

And at that point in the game, Thomas already had 13 fourth-quarter points.

Stevens confirmed after the game that the last shot in the fourth was indeed for Rozier, but Thomas’ presence on the floor was important to its execution.

“He (Thomas) also draws a lot of attention,” Stevens said. “So I think you just weigh kind of … what kind of shot you’re going to get, depending on who it is.”

Rozier had initially screened for Thomas, and Thomas came back and screened for him.

“I was open as soon as I caught … and I let it fly,” Rozier said. “Coach drew up a play for me and it felt good to see the ball go in.”

Being on the floor at that time, win or lose, was a victory of sorts for Rozier.

He has seen first-hand how quickly the tide can change in the NBA for a young player.

After a strong summer league showing and a solid training camp, Rozier had earned himself a firm spot in the team’s regular rotation.

But a series of not-so-great games coupled with Gerald Green’s breakout night on Christmas Day, led to his playing time since then becoming more sporadic.

Rozier, in an interview with CSNNE.com, acknowledged it hasn’t been easy going from playing regular minutes to not being sure how much court time, if any, he would receive.

But he says the veterans on the team have been good about keeping his spirits up, and one in particular – Avery Bradley – has been especially helpful.

Like Rozier, Bradley’s first couple of years saw his playing time go from non-existent to inconsistent. But Bradley stayed the course and listened to the team’s veterans who continued to tell him that his hard work would pay off sooner or later.

Those same words of wisdom Bradley received in his early days, he passes on to Rozier.

“It’s big,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “He (Bradley) tells me things like that. I felt I was ready for this (inconsistent minutes) after all that he told me. It’s big to have a guy like him that has been through it all with a championship team, been around this organization for a while; have him talk to you is big. It’s always good. That’s why I stay positive, and be ready.”

Which is part of the reason why Stevens didn’t hesitate to call up a play for the second-year guard despite him being a 33.3 percent shooter from 3-point range this season – that ranks eighth on this team, mind you.

“He’s a really good shooter,” Stevens said of Rozier. “I think with more opportunity that will show itself true, but he made some big ones in the fourth quarter. We went to him a few different times out of time-outs, and felt good about him making that one.”

And to know that Stevens will turn to him not just to spell Thomas or one of the team’s other guards, but to actually make a game-altering play in the final seconds … that’s major.

“It helps tremendously,” said Rozier who added that his confidence is through “the roof. It makes me want to do everything. You know defense, all of that. It’s great, especially to have a guy like Brad trust you."