Celtics coach Doc Rivers didn't sugarcoat anything following his team falling 100-89 to the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night for its third consecutive loss, noting afterward that Boston is "not a good team right now."
The Bulls scored 48 of their 100 points in the paint, won the rebounding battle 43-35, and registered 16 second-chance points, further stunting any signs of progress Boston had made in recent weeks.
"I just thought we had a team that played with more energy, played harder, got into us," Rivers told reporters in Chicago. "I thought their intensity was higher. I thought we came out in the first quarter, beginning of the game, and competed. We didn't sustain it. When we subbed out, they got that stretch, and we never recovered.
"We had a chance in the second half, I think it was seven minutes left, I think we cut it to three, and, it's funny, I told my coaches, 'This game's about to go one way or the other.' We took Kevin [Garnett] out again and, bam. So we're going to keep searching. I think we've got the group. We've got to find the right group and the right combination at the right time. But we're going to keep searching. This team is not a good team right now."
Boston didn't plan on getting swept during this three-game road trip. The Celtics entered the stretch hoping to build momentum and put together their first legitimate winning streak of the season. Instead, they suffered unsightly losses to the Rockets and Spurs on back-to-back nights and ended things with another poor effort on Tuesday (despite two off days before playing a Chicago team on the second night of a back-to-back). Boston dropped to 12-12, and Rivers wasn't about to anoint his team as better than what its record indicates.
"It's who we are right now," Rivers said. "I've been saying that. This is who we are right now. We're a .500 team, and we play like that. Again, we've won two games in a row for the season. Right now we're not a good team. We're going to find it. But we're not right now. We're just going to keep searching for it."
Rivers couldn't help but acknowledge the effectiveness of Chicago center Joakim Noah, who posted his second career triple-double Tuesday, finishing with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in a little under 37 minutes of floor time.
"Noah's terrific. He's such a great passer and at times without [Derrick] Rose, we really consider him their point guard," Rivers said. "He makes their decisions, he bails them out. I bet 10 times in the first half, it was late clock, he flashes to the ball, makes a play either by scoring or with his passing. He's just an extremely high-IQ basketball player. I've said it for four years now, and it's getting higher and higher."