Doc Rivers doesn’t sound like a man searching for answers. He sounds like he hasn’t a clue.
And if he’s not careful about the words he chooses, he’s going to sound like a coach that isn’t in control of his team.
Rivers’ Boston Celtics lost for the 5th time in 7 games last night, getting blown out of the Staples Center by the Los Angeles Clippers 106-77 – but this is just the latest in what is becoming a long string of poor efforts. He appears dumbfounded.
“Every individual on our team wanted to beat them and every individual tried to do it by themselves instead of just playing our game,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
Hate to tell you this, Doc, but throwing your team under the bus isn’t the answer – nor is joking about the loss, which will never adhere him to the hearts of the fans. But after a few light-hearted moments to try and lessen the sting of the loss, Rivers went on to be complimentary of Los Angeles.
“They are playing well and we played horrible – it’s a perfect storm,” Rivers quipped after the loss, “You hate those, you don’t have a lot of those, but we had one of those tonight.”
And while there is no shame in losing to the best team in the NBA on their home floor, getting blown out of the building from the opening tip is nothing to be proud of.
The Clippers roared out to a 24-9 lead to start the game – including an 18-4 run – toying with the Celtics with lineup changes in the second and third quarters, then embarassed Boston by limiting them to just 10 points down the stretch for a 29 point victory that easily could have been more.
Reserve forward Matt Barnes scored 21 points and Jamal Crawford chipped in with 17 as they led the Clipper’s scoring assault off the bench. Blake Griffin had 15 points and hauled down 8 rebounds while point guard Chris Paul scored 8 and dished out 11 dimes as Los Angleses registered thier 15th consecutive victory, including their 6th straight blowout win.
Paul played a game high 29 minutes for the Clippers, who rested their starters for most of the final frame.
“Shows we have a lot of depth. I’ve probably sat out more fourth quarters this season than any of my previous seven seasons,” Paul said. “It’s a really good feeling now, a good vibe because everyone is enjoying it.”
Caron Butler added 14 points and Lamar Odom crashed the boards for 13 rebounds as the Clippers improved the NBA’s best record to 23-6.
In contrast, the Celtics looked like just a group of guys in a pick up game, no energy, no continuity.
Kevin Garnett scored 16 and Paul Pierce 12 before they were pulled from the game, playing just 26 and 27 minutes respectively. Jason Terry and Rajon Rondo each scored 10 points while Courtney Lee had 12 off the bench for Boston, who dropped to 14-14.
The Celtics were outrebounded by the Clippers and committed 10 more turnovers than the Clippers, a disturbing trend that has dogged Boston all season.
Another trend that may be even more disturbing is the roller coaster of energy that the Celtics have been riding, hovering right around .500 for the entire season. On some nights, they are just good enought to win – on this night, they didn’t even belong in the same building as the Clippers, and the Clippers accomdated Boston by showing them the door early.
The only life the Celtics showed was when rookie forward Jared Sullinger horse collared Clipper’s star forward Blake Griffen as Griffen rose for a trademark face-flush in the thrid quarter. Sullinger was having none of being posterized.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t help the Celtics from being on a blotter as the 15th consecutive victim of a Clippers’ team that is more athletic than any other in the league.
And that’s where the Celtics fall short.
Boston’s lineup is plodding and reactionary, choosing to take what the opposition gives them instead of taking what they want…and the Clippers’ gave them nothing last night.
The good news is that there is no team more athletic than the Clippers in the NBA, so the Celtics’ escape Los Angeles and head to face more traditional lineups in the Warriors and Kings before returning home to Boston.
Rivers’ task is to figure out a way to become more consistent and more competitive before the players quit on him all together, and the Celtic’s management throws him under the bus.
Maybe it’s time to end the wasted Fab Melo D-League experiment and call him up to the parent club. Given their lack of athleticism and lack of defensive prowess, what could it hurt?