BOSTON -- Even on the heels of a 108-100 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night at TD Garden, Celtics coach Doc Rivers sees room for improvement with his team. But he likes the direction his squad is headed: back toward a more familiar brand of basketball.
"I just thought our effort -- I told the guys at halftime and even after the game, 'That was the Celtics,'" said Rivers. "That’s the team that we’ve been looking for, but can we continue to do it? We’ve got to do it over and over again. I thought there were some mistakes made, we kept playing. We made runs, we kept playing. They made a run, we kept playing. No hanging heads, yelling at each other. We played through all the clutter; it was like a clutter-free game for us. That’s who we have to be."
With the Celtics (7-6) riding a two-game losing streak and in danger of falling below .500, Boston responded with renewed defensive intensity -- something missing in losses to Detroit and San Antonio -- while maintaining signs of being a revamped offense.
Beating a Western Conference power didn't hurt matters for a Boston team in need of a confidence boost.
"We just need to play right," said Rivers. "It’s great to beat Oklahoma, they were in the Finals last year and they’re the team to beat, I guess, in the West. But it was more how we played. We played with great force tonight and I thought that was the difference."
Did Rivers find out something about his team in a gritty win like this, one in which the Celtics were able to withstand a late charge by the Thunder?
"I think [the players] found out something about them," said Rivers. "I already knew this. But I think they found something out tonight. We gotta keep doing it. That's the key for us."