Struggling Celtics look to Big Four

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Struggling Celtics look to Big Four

By: Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

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.

Rich Levine can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

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Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

After the Clippers were elminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, a disappointed Paul Pierce told ESPN that he was "50-50" about retirement. 

In a video after Portland's Game 6 victory posted on oregonlive.com, the former Celtics captain said his "heart is broken" by another playoff elimination. 

Pierce signed a a three-year, $10 million contract to return home (he grew up in Inglewood, Calif.) and play for his old coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles.  He'll be 39 next season and coming off the worst season of his career. Pierce averaged 6.1 points, 36 percent shooting and 18 minutes a game, all career lows.

How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

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How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

WALTHAM, Mass. -- This past season, Isaiah Thomas took a major step forward to becoming more than just a solid NBA player, but one of the game’s best.
 
He knows he won’t stay among the elite for long if he doesn’t make some changes with the most notable being to his diet.
 
“I do not eat good,” Thomas acknowledged following his exit interview this week. “I eat like a young guy, a young guy who got a little bit of money, fast food every day. But I’m definitely going to change.”
 
The change becomes necessary not only in light of how the season ended for him and the Celtics, but also for his long-term goals, which include playing in the NBA until he’s at least 40 years old.
 
“I’m not that old but the greatest players took care of their bodies the best,” Thomas said.
 
Among those cited by Thomas who excelled at taking care of their bodies was former Celtic Ray Allen.
 
But Thomas was quick to add that he won’t go to the lengths that Allen did in maintaining good health.
 
“Because he’s a little crazy with that,” quipped Thomas. “I just want to play at a high level for a long time, like Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant. You have to take care of your body. That’s half the battle of performing out there on the floor.
 
Thomas added, “This is a big summer for me to start doing that.”
 
Eating right is just part of the transformation process for Thomas.
 
He’ll also modify is offseason workouts to include some work in the boxing ring with long time friend Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
 
“I’m definitely work with him a few times, get my conditioning right, probably train, do some boxing stuff on the side, just to get in that type of shape,” Thomas said. “You get in that type of shape you won’t get tired on the basketball floor. This summer is big for me, transforming my body, getting into the best shape possible and coming back and having another all-star year.”
 
For the Celtics to improve upon this past season, they will need Thomas to continue elevating his play as well as the play of those around him.
 
It is that latter point that was among the many reasons Boston’s season is over. No matter what he did, those around him could not step their game up to a level needed in order to get past the Atlanta Hawks.
 
Chalk it up to another lesson learned for Thomas.
 
“You can’t do it on your own,” Thomas said. “There’s no way you can do it on your own. Nobody can do it on your own; and how hard it is to win playoff games, a playoff series. It’s not easy.”
 
And when you come up short, for Thomas is created an uneasiness that he never wants to experience again.
 
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to not have this feeling again,” he said. “It really hurt me. I’m going to use that as motivation to continue to get better and to work on my flaws and make those into my strengths. I promise you’ll I’ll be back better than ever next year.”