About three hours before Glen Davis bricked a 3-pointer in the closing minutes of an 83-81 loss to the Hornets, Friday afternoon, Doc Rivers talked about players not trying to do more than they should. “We don’t need anyone to step up,” Rivers said. “We need you to step into your role and do what you do.” (Click here for a full recap).
Davis undoubtedly heard a variation of that sentiment after his ill-advised attempt, which capped off a rather dreadful 4-for-14 afternoon. Just in case there was any doubt, Rivers was asked that very thing to start off his postgame remarks.
“Who are you talking about? I’m just curious. Can you give me a name?” Rivers asked. Told the question referred to Davis, Rivers responded, “That’s a very good observation. I’m going to just let you say that. I mean, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that.”
No, it didn’t. Davis fell into the classic trap of trying to replace Kevin Garnett, who missed his first game with a strained calf, instead of just being Glen Davis. It’s not the first time this has happened, and it probably won’t be the last, which speaks to some of the frustration between player and coach.
For his part, Davis didn’t talk after the game. He cleared out in a huff before the media was allowed into the locker room. Paul Pierce, who also had a rough day with six turnovers, did talk and he took the blame himself.
“I really didn’t come to play today,” he said. The responsibility is on the guys out on the floor.”
Here’s the deal with the Celtics right now. They don’t have Garnett. They still don’t have Rajon Rondo (more on him in a bit) and they don’t have Delonte West and Kendrick Perkins. That’s 60 percent of the starting lineup and the guy who was supposed to be one of the key reserves. That’s not an excuse, that’s just the reality.
“If we want to be a championship-caliber team then we really can’t have any excuses,” Jermaine O’Neal said. “The conversation coming into this year was how deep we are. Do we say now that Kevin’s out for a while, Rondo’s been out for a while, we should lose? No, we shouldn’t say that.”
It’s also true that they can win games without all their key pieces, but they have to play smarter and they have to play tighter.
“We’ve been in survival mode now for a couple of weeks to months with guys out,” Ray Allen said. “It requires all of us to be better. Our mistakes have to be fewer. We’ve got to figure it out. It’s a new challenge. When Delonte went down it forced us to play one way. Then Rondo went down we had to change again, then with Kevin.”
They won’t win many games with Davis firing up 3’s and they won’t beat too many teams when they turn it over 19 times. All in all, it was a fairly regrettable way to close out 2010, but they will have to figure it out soon and help may be on the way.
RAJON RONDO IS CLOSER
There’s a feeling that Rondo is such a freak of nature that he can come back from anything. After all, he returned to the end of the Knicks game after he turned his ankle so severely that the ball of the ankle actually made contact with the floor.
He tried to give it a go Friday, but after playing one-on-one before the game, he realized he still couldn’t do the things he needed to do to get back on the court and be Rondo.
“It’s day to day,” he said. “Maybe Sunday, maybe Monday, maybe Chicago.”
As for his other ailments – plantar fasciitis and a sore hamstring – Rondo said they are feeling better but he won’t know for sure until he gets in a game. “They’re fine for now,” he said. “Those only trigger when I play and have a burst of speed.”
Regardless of how they’re playing right now, and losing three of four definitely qualifies as a slump for a team that won 23 of the first 27 games, it doesn’t do the Celtics, or Rondo, any good to bring him back before he’s ready. It doesn’t matter that the offense has now flow or that the assists have dropped with each game.
“It is what it is,” Rondo said. “They won some games without me too. That’s the NBA. Detroit game, this game, we should have won. With me, without me, with KG, without KG, we should have won these two games.”
RAY ALLEN NEEDS SOME ATTENTION
Ray Allen has been getting shots, the problem is he hasn’t been getting good shots. Coming into Friday, he had only one attempt at the rim in his last three games and his mid-range game has been pushed further and further out.
Part of that has to do with Rondo’s absence, but part of that is also the fault of the big men who’s job on offense is to set screens to get Allen open and create movement in the Celtics offense.
“The guy that’s suffered the most from the injuries is Ray,” Rivers said. “He can’t get shots right now. We have to do a better job of setting picks. Our pick-setting has been horrendous the last three games and Ray lives off that. We have to have an antenna, our players on the floor, that we have to get him shots and were not doing a good job of that.”
The antenna was still broken Friday, so Allen took it upon himself to create his own shots after getting just four in the first half.
It wasn’t until late in the third quarter when Allen even attempted a shot and he made three of his first four shots of the second half without the benefit of an assist. That’s tough work for a guy who gets 70 percent of his offense from passes. Allen still finished with a team-high 18 points on 13 shots and he was easily the most efficient player on the court. The only other candidate was Marquis Daniels, who had a strong game with 10 points, four assists and three rebounds.
“Whatever this team needs from me or Paul, I think he feels the same way, we just have to figure it out,” he said. “If we have to score 10 points a game to make it happen or if you have to have 20, you’ve got to do what you have to do to make it happen. It’s important that everybody feels that way too.”
They can start by getting Allen more involved.
JERMAINE O’NEAL LIVES
Rivers didn’t want to play O’Neal 33 minutes, but the temptation was too great, especially with the way he was defending the paint and rebounding. Rivers even called a timeout with three minutes and 39 seconds left in order to give him a breather.
As it turns out, that may have cost the Celtics because they didn’t have any timeouts left on the last possession, and after Pierce lost control of the ball, they didn’t have a chance to reset.
But if there was a silver lining in this loss, it was the play of O’Neal who, in the words of Rivers, did exactly what he wanted him to do. “He’s rebounding, he’s blocking shots and he’ll roll and make a shot,” Rivers said.
This was a huge turnaround for O’Neal who has been under the microscope since missing 19 games with a knee injury. He hasn’t been happy about the lack of practice time and he’s still trying to find his way with his new team.
“I’m having to do this on the fly,” he said. “It is a very difficult position because you don’t have time. You don’t have practice time to get it tested. I’m having to test it in games. 33 minutes, I didn’t foresee that, nor did I not want it. I wanted it. I feel like the more I play the better I’ll be.”
The Celtics need O’Neal to be what he was Friday. Sure, everyone would be even happier if he made a few more shots (he was 3-for-9), but that will come when he regains his timing. The Celtics desperately need his shot-blocking presence and rebounding. O’Neal blocked three shots and changed at least that many as they made their run to get back in the game.
It hasn’t been the most seamless of transitions, but for O’Neal and the Celtics it was a start, and something to build on after an altogether forgettable afternoon.