Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers on Thursday morning expounded on a comment he made that his team was “soft” even after a heated altercation Wednesday night that is likely to get Rajon Rondo suspended.
To Rivers, the altercation wasn’t proof of the Celtics’ intensity, but rather its lack of it.
“What needed to be done was for us to join the fight, and I don’t mean fight literally,” Rivers said in an interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. “You could see Brooklyn came into that game like it meant the world to them … they’re trying to establish an identity. I thought we showed up to play the basketball game but we weren’t ready for their intensity.”
Following the Brooklyn Nets’ 95-83 victory over the Celtics, during which Rondo was ejected for tangling with Kris Humphries as part of a melee that spilled into the stands beneath the basket, Rivers said his team “didn’t come to play” and added “we’re a soft team right now; we have no toughness.”
“I was more relaying what I thought that Brooklyn, what they were saying actually and what they were thinking. They looked at us as soft,” Rivers explained Thursday morning. “I think we’re playing soft right now, yes.”
He went on:
“The game started out with us not being soft. The game started with us not being as into it emotionally invested like the other team. You watch our transition D, which has been great lately. It was horrendous to begin the game, they got 3s off of that. We turned the ball over, they got layups after that. And that led to the frustration, and to me that led to us turning soft. And it may be more mental than physical. But whatever it is, it is.”
Rivers said specifically that the Celtics needed to improve their one-on-one defense and mental preparation for each game. The Celtics have had an inconsistent season so far, sitting at 8-7.
“I don’t think this is not going to be a good team,” Rivers said Thursday morning. “I think we’re not a good team right now.”