Practice notebook: Turning the page
WALTHAM, Mass. -- On a day when Avery Bradley's impending return and Rajon Rondo's possible return to inactivity dominated pre-practice access with the Boston Celtics, here's a handful of New Year's Day leftovers from the afternoon session:
* TURNING THE PAGE: Celtics coach Doc Rivers said the team couldn't lament an unsightly finish to a four-game road trip with Boston losing the final three games by 18 points or more. "We have no choice -- if we had been 3-1, we would have had to turn the page and if we were 1-3 or 0-4, then you have to turn the page," Rivers said. "We just have to keep grinding and keep trying to improve. It’s amazing, just for us, the difference when we win and lose games. The numbers are startling and that’s where we have to improve."
* WIN/LOSS DISPARITY: Rivers harped on that disparity in numbers between when the Celtics win and lose games. Multiple times he referenced how his team's defensive numbers shouldn't be so contrasting based on game result. In Boston's 14 wins, the team has held opponents to 42.8 percent shooting and 89.6 points per 48 minutes; in the Celtics' 16 losses, opponents have shot 47.9 percent and averaged a whopping 101.9 points per 48 minutes. Rivers said it's frustrating because it's about a 50/50 proposition if Boston is going to bring the proper defensive intensity. "In those games we’ve won, we’ve proven in those games that we can do it, and in those games we’ve lost, we've proven we can’t do it. One of those two sides are going to win and I’m hoping it’s the defensive side of it." Rivers later added on the topic: "The numbers are so drastic, and that’s the only thing that I don’t like. In the past, when you lose -- they are always different, obviously the other team has to be scoring more in your losses -- but it’s a 10-12 point difference on both sides, and that’s just too big. That means you’re fluctuating, as far as the way you are preparing or approaching games. That means something. We've got to figure out what it means."
* C'S WILL STAY BIG VS. GRIZZLIES: Despite the team's recent struggles, Rivers reaffirmed that he'd like to stay big with Jason Collins running with the first unit. "At times, we may change that, but right now we like it," Rivers said. "There’s certain teams it’s hard to do it against. I don’t think [Memphis is] one of those teams. You better do it tomorrow night, because they have two terrific bigs. I do think it’s helped Kevin, even though the numbers wouldn’t say it right now, because none of us -- we played pretty poor on this road trip, other than the first game. We couldn't make a shot, I thought at times we looked tired, old and slow -- not Kevin, but I’m saying as a team. We have to do better." How exactly does Collins help Garnett? "No. 1, he doesn’t have to bang against the bigs all game, which I think, physically it helps Kevin. I think, mentally, it helps Kevin ... [with] rotations. He’s as good as Kevin at calling them out, and so Kevin feels like he doesn't have to do everything, and again, that may just be an emotional advantage for Kevin, but it’s still a good advantage for Kevin."
* PIERCE: REWIND THE TAPE: Celtics captain Paul Pierce playfully declined the invitation to chat with reporters on Tuesday, joking that media members should simply hit rewind on their tape recorders and play back what he's said after each of the team's last three losses. Pierce instead engaged teammate Brandon Bass in a brief pre-practice shooting contest, where he good-naturedly badgered Bass about stepping in too far on jump shots from different locations around the perimeter.
* HAPPY NEW YEAR: A new year means a chance for a bit of a fresh start for these staggering Celtics. As rookie Jared Sullinger noted, "It's a new year, so hopefully we'll bounce back. I have trust in these guys, in these vets. We're coming in and we're still working, still doing our job. But things are going to come. I'm pretty sure about that."
* RIVERS DISAPPOINTED IN BEARS: Rivers admitted he was disappointed with the decision of his beloved Chicago Bears to fire head coach Lovie Smith after a 10-6 season. "I’m really disappointed. I always look at it, when a guy gets fired, it shouldn’t be because someone else lost. When you think about it, if the Packers had beaten the Vikings, then Lovie keeps his job. That makes no sense to me. I think he’s been a very, very, very good coach -- over his tenure, I think he’s had the best record in the NFL. Listen, this is our jobs. And we all know that’s how you leave most of the time."
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