The message could not have been more clear from Doc Rivers.
Even in a loss, the energy and fight needs to be there if the Celtics are to get back on track and make a second-half run to the playoffs.
“If I saw that effort every night,” Rivers said, ‘I’d be very happy.”
He wasn’t happy with the fact his team lost its fifth straight after winning six in a row. He wasn’t happy with his team’s execution down the stretch. But he was satisfied with making life tough on Carmelo Anthony again, especially in the first half 26 minutes, when they held him to 4-for-15 shooting from the floor.
He was happy with the fact that his team trailed 80-70 with eight minutes left and made a charge to make it a two-point game.
He says the signed are there.
“We missed a lot of open shots,” Rivers said of his Celtics, who finished shooting 40 percent. “But I don’t think it’s pressing; I just think we’re missing shots. [At the end] those were just two turnovers. Overall, you look at the whole total, we had 12 turnovers. That doesn’t sound like pressing.”
Paul Pierce had another miserable night from the floor, making just 6-of-15 shots. He had a key turnover with 7.1 seconds left as the Celtics were trying to tie the game but that’s not what really bothered Rivers. It was the play with a minute left and the Celtics down five. A bad pass from Jason Terry and a golden opportunity to cut into the lead with under a minute left went by the boards.
“The play before [Pierce's turnover] is what I was more disappointed in,” Rivers said. “I didn’t think we executed that great. That was supposed to be a hand-off to Paul coming off, and they got their hand in on the ball. And I had my three best shooters with Jet, Paul, and Kevin (Garnett) involved, and it just didn’t work out.
“It’s frustrating to lose when you give effort, because you’ve got to keep convincing your guys if you play that way every night, you’re going to make more shots than that. And you’re going to win a lot of games. But right now they’re sitting there thinking, ‘We lost.’ So, they know it. They know with that effort you’re going to win most nights.”