Rivers: 'This was a step backwards'


Rivers: 'This was a step backwards'

HOUSTON For weeks Doc Rivers has talked about the strides taken by his club even in the face of defeat.

But Friday's 101-89 loss at Houston was different.

There was no obvious silver lining in this loss for Rivers.

"We have to figure this out," a visibly disappointed Rivers said afterward. "This is the first game in a while - we've been trending well - but this was a step backwards in the way we play, this was a step backwards for us."

Boston's defensive rotations were as slow as we've seen this season.

And while the bevy of lay-ups by Houston might seem as though the C's big men were the problem, Rivers said the issue on Friday night was dribble penetration by Houston's guards which forced the big men to at times over-rotate and thus made for a slew of easy buckets for the Rockets.

No one feasted off the C's defensive problems more than unheralded Houston forwardcenter Greg Smith who had 20 points on 8-for-9 shooting to go with six rebounds and three blocked shots.

"They (Boston) were going to overcompensate to James (Harden), they were going to overcompensate to Jeremy (Lin)," said Rockets coach and former Celtic Kevin McHale. "So if you roll behind there's going to be some openings and Greg did a great job of presenting himself, catching and finishing around the basket."

Paul Pierce who led the Celtics with 18 points on 5-for-18 shooting, had similar thoughts on the C's regression on Friday.

"I thought we had our opportunities," said Pierce, who made note of the C's struggles in the first and third quarters sandwiching a strong showing in the second. "We're still trying to put four quarters together. That's what we need to do. You can't play (well) every other quarter and expect to win games."

Rajon Rondo was disappointed with the loss, but has a different view on Friday's loss and its impact on the positive strides Boston had made coming into the game.

"It isn't," Rondo said when asked if it was a step back. "It's one loss."

A loss that was in stark contrast to recent defeats in which the C's could in many ways see the pieces coming together for what they still believe will be a formidable club when it counts - playoff time.

Fortunately for them, it'll be clear in about 24 hours if Friday's loss was as Rondo put it, "one loss" that they move on from with a win at San Antonio, or whether Saturday night's game against the Spurs will end in defeat and put the C's right back to where they have been most of the season which is a slightly better-than-.500 ball club.

Buckets' List: Friars move up, Catamounts hold steady in latest bracket


Buckets' List: Friars move up, Catamounts hold steady in latest bracket

Each Monday through the Final Four, our own Robbie Buckets -- known in some circles as Rob Snyder, associate producer at Comcast SportsNet -- will take a look at the world of college basketball. From now until Selection Sunday, he'll be picking brackets heading into the tournament:

1. Villanova
16. Mount St. Mary’s/NC Central

8. Maryland
9. Virginia Tech

5. Notre Dame
12. UNC Wilmington

4. Florida
13. Vermont

6. Iowa State
11. Seton Hall/Illinois State

3. Florida State
14. Princeton

7. Michigan State
10. VCU

2. Kentucky
15. East Tennessee State

1. North Carolina
16. New Orleans

8. Dayton
9. Arkansas

5. Creighton
12. Middle Tennessee

4. West Virginia
13. Valpo

6. Saint Mary’s
11. USC

3. Oregon
14. Belmont

7. Miami
10. Marquette

2. Baylor
15. South Dakota

1. Kansas
16. Texas Southern/North Dakota

8. Wichita State
9. Virginia Tech

5. Virginia
12. UT-Arlington

4. Purdue
13. Bucknell

6. Minnesota
11. California/Vanderbilt

3. Butler
14. Winthrop

7. South Carolina
10. Providence

2. Louisville
15. Florida Gulf Coast

1. Gonzaga
16. UC-Davis

8. Oklahoma State
9. Michigan

5. SMU
12. Nevada

4. Arizona
13. Monmouth

6. Wisconsin
11. Xavier

3. Duke
14. Akron

7. Cincinnati
10. Syracuse

15. Cal-Bakersfield

Seton Hall
Illinois State

Rhode Island
Georgia Tech
Kansas State

Follow me on Twitter @RobbieBuckets for college hoops musings and off-the-cuff sports takes.

Dennis Schroder doubles down on claims Isaiah Thomas took family trash talk too far

Dennis Schroder doubles down on claims Isaiah Thomas took family trash talk too far

Dennis Schroder isn't backing down.

The Atlanta Hawks point guard again was asked about Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, and the budding rivalry between the two players that's turned into a rivalry between the two teams. Thomas, of course, was accused by Schroder of taking his trash talking a bit too far during the teams' last meeting, a 103-101 Celtics victory last month in which Thomas hit the game-winning shot with just seconds remaining.

Thomas' comments allegedly were about Schroder's family, per Schroder himself. Thomas has since repeatedly denied the claims. So does Schroder still deny Thomas' side of the story?

“I mean, yeah. Everybody heard it, too," Schroder said. "My family sat courtside too. And (Hawks teammate) Thabo (Sefolosha) heard some things, you know, and he was involved in it. But it is what it is. Like I said, we just try to compete. And you know, it’s getting heated in the game. It is what it is."

Schroder didn't dive much deeper than denying Thomas' claims of innocence. But is there something about Thomas inparticular that gets under Schroder's skin or runs him the wrong way?

Nah, I mean he’s a great player, he’s showing it this year," Schroder said. "I mean, what he did in the playoffs last year was just not, you know, professional. And I think nobody wants to see that but it’s fine. We just try to compete and try to help our team win the basketball game."

Schroder was referring to the back-and-forth physical play between himself and Thomas that resulted in flagrant fouls for both during the first-round playoff matchup betweein the clubs, a series Atlanta eventually won four games to two. Thomas' status was in doubt for Game 4 of the series after a hit to Schroder's head in Game 3, but the now two-time All-Star ultimately was allowed to play.

"Everybody’s competitive. Everybody tries to get out, get after it," Schroder explained when asked if his feud with Thomas fuels his team any extra. "I think it’s a big game tonight and the team knows it. I’m pretty sure the Celtics know it too. It’s getting close to the playoffs and every game counts."

Boston and Atlanta tip off from TD Garden at 7:30 p.m.