Celtics coach Doc Rivers made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning. The Celtics fell 90-87 to the Grizzlies Wednesday night, their fifth loss in the last nine games. The Celtics are now a full game behind the Bulls in the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
"We didn't play well, but I thought we should have won the game," said Rivers, who listed the 52-26 Memphis edge in points in the paint as a main factor in the game.
Former Celtics Leon Powe and Tony Allen played significant roles in the Memphis win, with Powe pacing all Grizzlies' scores with 13 points and Allen chipping in with eight points and seven rebounds. Rivers was asked if a loss is even tougher when former players contribute to a Celtics defeat.
"It's harder to take when you lose, period," said Rivers, who confirmed that the Celtics looked at Powe before the trade deadline before ultimately passed due to health concerns. "It doesn't have anything to do with Tony or Leon. What I didn't like was I just thought they were more aggressive than us throughout the game."
Rivers was asked about the continued struggles of Rajon Rondo, who made just two of his 12 field-goal attempts in the loss to Memphis. Said Rivers of Rondo's confidence: "It's coming back, I will say that. I thought he went through a little stretch where he was struggling. I would say the last three games you can see it coming back. Even last night, I thought he forced the issue a little bit, and that was good in some ways. Some shots aren't going in for him, but I think his attacking is back and that's good."
Rivers provided an update on the status of injured big men Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal. "Jermaine will join us in Indiana, but that doesn't mean he's going to play," said Rivers. "But he will join us in Indiana [on March 28]. Danny went down to look at him, I guess he looks great. Hopefully Shaq will be back within the next five or six days as well."
When asked if this recent slide is reminiscent of 2010's 27-27 finish, Rivers was quick to point out a couple of key differences between the two teams.
"Last year and this year are different, I will say that," Rivers said. "Last year was more us doing that on purpose, not losing games but resting guys. We used the last 15, 20 games as preseason because we were not healthy and trying to get healthy. This season we are waiting for a couple of our bigs, no doubt about that. We'll change our ration. When you think about Shaq starting and Nenad coming off the bench with Baby, that changes your bench, makes your bench stronger. But we still have to play better and improve. We have to get our rhythm back in some ways and we have time to do that. But that's why we need to work."
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