BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics have won their last two games by a combined total of 38 points and have held their opponents to an average of just 75.5 points.
Their commanding victories in back-to-back contests against the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers have made their disappointing loss to the Chicago Bulls last Thursday seem like weeks ago.
But Doc Rivers comments after that game are still fresh on the Celtics minds.
I think it kind of woke us up and let us know, man, we were bull-expletive-ing, said Brandon Bass, who scored 18 points in Sundays 103-79 win over the 76ers. Thats what it was. After that, everybodys just been locked in. I wasnt surprised by Rivers comments because that wasnt even bad to me, I didnt think. Not with the way we played.
After the Celtics blew an 11-point halftime lead, Rivers deemed the 93-86 defeat the worst loss of the season. He said the Derrick Rose-less Bulls were too tough for his team, who he thought played like "the cool Boston Celtics," that night. Rivers called the game "unacceptable" and, when asked about the postseason, said the playoffs were the "furthest thing from my mind right now."
Just four days later, the Celtics (32-24) have a three-game lead in the Atlantic Division and are seeded fourth in the Eastern Conference with 10 games left in the regular season. They were not pleased with their loss to the Bulls, or their one-point defeat to the San Antonio Spurs the previous night at home, and are motivating themselves even when Rivers isn't speaking out.
He was frustrated, but we all were frustrated, said Paul Pierce (17 points, five rebounds, 3 assists against the 76ers). Of course we were frustrated from losing a game that we all feel like was a very winnable game. As veterans, we know how to respond, we know how to take our game up another level. You felt the frustration from the coach, but we felt it ourselves. Even if Doc didnt express it, I think we would have come out and played the way we played the last couple nights.
This weekends bounce-back wins were critical as the Celtics begin one of the most challenging stretches of their season on Tuesday with upcoming opponents including the Miami Heat (twice), Atlanta Hawks (twice), Orlando Magic, New York Knicks, and Milwaukee Bucks.
They will play their final 10 games, including two awayhome back-to-back series and a back-to-back-to-back series on the road, of the regular season over the next 17 days.
We all were disappointed, said Greg Stiemsma (2 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks against the 76ers). We all kind of felt like we let the San Antonio one kind of go before that. In the Chicago one, we just didnt have it. We know weve got to be better than that. Weve played at such a high level at times that weve got to stay at that high level all the time to finish this stretch out. Everybodys got a tough stretch left. Ours is really tough. So we cant make excuses, weve just got to go out and play our games.
We all kind of felt that he (Rivers) was just resonating how we were feeling. He didnt have to say a whole lot, but what he said was meaningful enough to get us going.