“That’s an unacceptable effort for us. I don’t say it very often; I don’t think I’ve ever said that. That was a crime,” a frustrated Rivers said after the game. “We have to be better. I don’t want to hear about us winning crap. Not with that.”
“I had to use two timeouts in the first half to remind us that we actually had an NBA game to play and that we needed to play” he said. “I thought that was the worst loss for us this year, with the way we approached the game.”
The Celtics had an 11 point lead at the half, but after holding Chicago to 38 points in the first half, the C’s fell asleep and gave up 55 points the rest of the way.
“Then in the second half, I just thought Chicago, they were too tough for us,” said Doc. “Their toughness made us let go of the rope. You could see it; we wanted to use all the excuses all night. I just thought Chicago was too tough for us tonight.”
“We were cool tonight. We were the cool Boston Celtics, that’s who we looked like,” Rivers continued. Walking the ball up [and] we couldn’t get the ball inbounds. No one wanted to work. We were the cool Celtics, and there’s nothing about me that’s cool, I can tell you that. We don’t play basketball cool.”
Rivers wants to see more mental toughness from his team, especially against an elite club like the Bulls.
“I think this team has shown great resolve, but right now, that’s twice now [the Celtics have lost leads in Chicago]. They get into it, they get frustrated, and our guys let go of the ropes. Bottom line. We’re not going to go a lot of places playing with that type of mental toughness. Chicago’s tougher than us right now.”
The Celtics had won five straight until Wednesday night’s loss to the Spurs in Boston. With their toughest stretch of the season upon them, and with the playoffs three weeks away, the last thing Rivers wants to see is a lapse in his team’s play.
“I’m just so pissed at the way we played. Honestly the playoffs are the furthest thing from my mind right now,” said Rivers. “We have three weeks, because the way we’re playing, we play like that tonight we’ll be playing one of those guys in the first round.”
The Celtics currently sit a game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers in the Atlantic Division, and trail the Indiana Pacers by three games for the number-three seed in the Eastern Conference. They play both of those teams this weekend.