Rivers: Celtics' veteran experience is deceiving

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Rivers: Celtics' veteran experience is deceiving

CHICAGO With a slew of veterans with varying levels of experience, the Boston Celtics have the appearance of a veteran team.

But as Celtics coach Doc Rivers points out, there's more to having a veteran team than simply throwing together a bunch of guys who have been around the NBA block a few times.

"Where I think people get mixed up, there's a difference between a veteran team and a lot of veterans on a team," Rivers said. "This is not a veteran team. This team hasn't been together."

That is quite apparent in their up-and-down play that has them at just 12-11 heading into Wednesday's game against a red-hot Chicago Bulls team that comes into tonight's game at Memphis having won five of their last six games.

With so many new faces, Rivers was optimistic that they would develop a good rhythm about their play quickly.

But more than a quarter of the way through this season, it's clear that has not happened yet.

Rivers pointed to fatigue as a potential factor in the team's play following Saturday's loss at San Antonio.

While players did indeed look a step or two slow most of the game, Rivers is more concerned with the Celtics being worn down mentally rather than physically being tired.

The team watched video from the loss at San Antonio prior to practice on Monday, with Rivers acknowledging that many of the miscues they made in the Spurs loss had more to do with them simply not being as strong as they need to be mentally.

That was at the heart of why they could get close to the Spurs but consistently failed to get over the hump either with a score, a rebound or a defensive stop, that was needed.

When teams are out of shape physically, having them run more usually does the trick.

But mental fatigue? That's a tricky one, for sure.

"You work on habits, you have to improve your habits," Rivers said. "We see it on film. We'll do it. And then we never sustain it."

Said Brandon Bass: "We know what we need to do. We just need to keep on doing it for longer stretches, that's all."

The Dallas Mavericks are in some ways like the Celtics in terms of adding a lot of new faces to their roster this season.

And like Boston, they too have not had the kind of early-season success they are used to.

The injury to Dirk Nowitzki has certainly been a factor in them not getting off to the best of starts. But coach Rick Carlisle would be remiss if he didn't acknowledge that having a lot of new faces -- even if they have prior NBA experience -- only adds to the learning curve needed in order to be a team that plays consistently.

"It just takes time," Carlisle told CSNNE.com. "I know fans don't like to hear that, but it's true. Obviously every team is different. But the better teams out there will figure it out sooner or later. And Boston is one of those teams."

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

BOSTON – The final score on the Jumbotron Friday night said the Celtics beat the Phoenix Suns 130-120.
 
But there was a clear and undeniable sense of loss on the part of the Celtics, even if Friday’s victory was their third in a row and sixth in the past seven games.
 
The Celtics (47-26) hope to continue on their winning ways tonight against a Miami Heat team currently among a handful fighting for one of the last playoff slots, but are doing so without Dion Waiters (ankle) who has been instrumental in their surge after an 11-30 start to the season.
 
Beating the Heat (35-37) will require Boston to play better than they did against the Suns, a game Boston won, but in many ways had the feeling of defeat.
 
Yes, Devin Booker’s career-high 70 points was very much a blow – a huge blow – to the pride of a team that takes tremendous pride in its defense.
 
But the sense of a loss came in the form of purpose while playing as close to their potential as possible.
 
The Celtics fell short on both fronts Friday night.
 
Being just one game behind Cleveland (47-24) for the best record in the East, the Celtics understand getting as many wins as possible is the mindset right now.
 
But coach Brad Stevens knows that while winning is important, how the team plays is even more valuable.
 
“Like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”
 
Is this Stevens’ way of trying to motivate his players after a not-so-great performance?
 
Or is he seriously concerned that his team isn’t as good as their record?
 
The Celtics, by their own standards, and to those of us on the outside looking in, know they are a better team than the one we saw on Friday night.
 
Not having Avery Bradley (sick) certainly hurt Boston’s efforts defensively.
 
Still, a Friday night’s game wore on, Booker’s confidence only grew and the Celtics’ desire to shut him down or at least slow him down, began to dissipate like an ice cube in hell.
 
And that’s a problem - a big problem - for a team that has to be connected at both ends of the floor for an extended period of time in order to play at the level their capable of and, most important, give them the best shot at emerging victorious in the postseason.
 
That’s why Stevens isn’t too caught up in the team’s chances of catching Cleveland, or whether they go into the playoffs riding a fat winning streak.
 
“I’m not going to get caught up in winning a couple of games in a row and all that stuff,” Stevens said. “I want to get caught up in playing well. We’ve shown ourselves capable of playing well, we have not sustained it throughout a game. And it’s been pretty consistent.”
 

Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

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Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

BROOKLYN, NY – It wasn’t particularly entertaining and it won’t be all that memorable down the ride aside from the timing and importance of the meeting between the Bruins and Islanders. But it was a solid 2-1 team win for the Bruins over the Islanders at the Barclays Center on Saturday night with the B’s grinding all the way down to the end while protecting a one-goal lead through much of the third period.

Nearly everybody across Boston’s roster contributed in the major victory over the team trying to bypass them in the wild card standings, and it was a beautiful thing. Anton Khudobin stepped up when Tuukka Rask couldn’t start Saturday night’s showdown with a lower body issue, and Riley Nash supplied both Boston goals from a fourth line that’s played some of their best hockey lately.

It was unlikely heroes all around for the Black and Gold in the tightly-wound contest, but that diversity of talent and production can be a very good thing for a team looking to make that playoff push.

“You have to stay with it. You have to stay in the moment and stay with the game no matter what’s happening during the game. That’s how you get results, and that’s how you find ways to persevere through adversity,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We just got back to playing stingy, especially in the neutral zone. We got away from it the last few games, and it was nice tonight to be back playing a low-scoring game like what we’re used to playing.”

When it was all said and done the Bruins only allowed 19 shots on net and also killed off six penalties in the kind of grinding defensive showdown that you haven’t seen all that much out of the Black and Gold lately. It was exactly what Cassidy was looking for to snap the four-game losing streak, and once again start pushing the Bruins upward into the playoff chase.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard and fighting that hard to see pucks and find pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Cassidy. “From the goalie on out, everybody was in there [in the win]. It was a tough game. It was a nice Bruins win. We had been doing it with offense earlier, and we’ve got to be able to do it both ways. You need to be able to win 2-1 hockey games, and it had been awhile.”

Now it’s simply up to the Bruins to be feeling good about their latest win while going back to basics, and looking for more next time around after ending their worst losing streak of the season.