Commentary

Celtics can't linger in the moment

Team has been good in recent seasons at leaving forgetful performances behind

Updated: June 6, 2010, 7:00 PM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

LOS ANGELES -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers is fond of joking about all the ailments his team suffers from because of its advanced age. Here's one he can add to the list: memory loss.

That's a blessing for a Boston team that, in the past three seasons, has shown an ability to put ugly losses behind it when another team might let them fester.

[+] EnlargeDoc Rivers
Mark Ralston/Getty ImagesDoc Rivers isn't sure why the Celtics didn't show up for Game 1, but he doesn't think it will have a lasting effect.

So the day after an uninspired performance in a Game 1 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Celtics acknowledged their shortcomings but refused to lament them at Friday's practice session at Staples Center, noting there's little use sweating what's now in the past.

They can't go back and fix Game 1, but they can surely atone in Game 2.

Asked whether the Celtics ever let a loss stick with them, center Kendrick Perkins said, "Never. As a matter of fact, today [Game 1] is gone. Sure it's hard to watch film, go over it again. But we practice and once this day is over, we put it behind us and get ready for Sunday."

The Celtics last found themselves in this position a month ago after the Cleveland Cavaliers stormed into TD Garden and handed Boston its worst home playoff loss in franchise history while taking a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Boston awoke to find what was essentially the obituary of its 2009-10 season in the morning papers. The Celtics responded by showing up for their own funeral and winning the next three games to bounce the Cavaliers.

Point guard Rajon Rondo was asked Friday if the team could use anything from that Game 3 loss to Cleveland in getting ready for Game 2 against the Lakers. He simply shrugged and noted that the situations are not similar because Thursday's loss was the first game of the NBA Finals.

"It's one game," Rondo said. "In the Cleveland series, [the Cavaliers] were up 2-1, right? That's closer to elimination. We still have a couple more games to play here."

Rondo tried to relate the situation to a game against the Detroit Pistons during the 2008 title run and unintentionally showed that even a 24-year-old on the team suffers from occasional memory loss.

Said Rondo: "The only thing I can probably relate it to is maybe a couple years back, 2008, when Detroit came in for Game 1 and stole a game from us. That's how I feel. I feel like they stole a game from us."

Trouble is, the Celtics actually won Game 1 of that series -- though the Pistons did steal Game 2 at the Garden, Boston's first home loss that postseason.

But it served as another example of how losses don't stick with Boston. It's a rare blessing as the Celtics realize that what's done is done, and it's on to the next challenge. Each game is a new opportunity.

This is exactly why Rivers doesn't put much stock in historical numbers. Like the fact Phil Jackson is 47-0 when his team wins Game 1 of a best-of-seven series. The way Rivers views it, none of those 47 came against the current Celtics roster. Until this Lakers team beats the Celtics, Jackson's slate reads 0-0.

In fact, when a reporter referenced the Game 3 loss to Cleveland, Rivers spent little time reflecting on it (though he did joke, "Thanks for that," when reminded of the game).

Rivers acknowledged that teams sometimes come out flat and there's no rhyme or reason. The key is making sure it doesn't happen twice.

"It says a little bit about us, the fact that we were able to gather ourselves after that shellacking, and it was the nature of the game," he said. "It's rare that your team shows up not to play. It happens sometimes for whatever reason. It just happens. No matter how much you prepare -- our team, I thought we had tremendous practices leading up to [Game 1]. I thought the day before was one of our best practices in some ways with our effort and how alert we were. And for whatever reason we didn't show up with that same stuff, and it happens."

The Celtics can't exactly explain why they're so good at putting games behind them, but all that matters is that they can.

Kevin Garnett summed it up most succinctly when asked what the Celtics plan to do to respond to their Game 1 effort.

Said Garnett: "Just that. Respond."

Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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