BOSTON (CBS) – For the umpteenth time this season, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers was not pleased with his team’s effort.
While most were busy watching the Patriots fall in the AFC Championship game, the Celtics were losing their third straight to drop back to .500. Boston fell to the Pistons 103-88 in Detroit on Sunday — another winnable game that saw the Celtics give less than a full-effort.
So Rivers, as he’s done before this season, called out his team while briefly addressing the media after the game. But this time, Rivers hinted at the possibility of roster changes — and not just a player or two finding their way to the bench.
“I think this team wants everything easy. They want the easy way out. They want to win easy. And I told them the only way you’re going to win easy is you’re going to have to play hard,” Rivers said after Sunday’s loss. “The harder you play, the easier the games become. We’re taking the wrong approach. I’ve got to either find the right combination, the right guys, or we’re going to get some guys out of here. It’s the bottom line. Because this group right now, they are not playing right. It’s in them to play right. But right now they haven’t been — either because I’m not getting to them, or they are not getting to each other. But at the end of the day, either we’ve got to do that, or we’ve got to make changes.”
While Doc was calling out his players, he was sure to take the blame as well.
“I’m clearly not doing my job with this team. And I’m serious, I’m not trying to take a bullet for the team. And I told them that. I said, ‘We’ve got to find something where every night, all 12 guys play the same way,’” he said. “We did it for three games in a stretch. I told them that games four and five in that winning streak were garbage; we just won the game. I’ve got to figure that out. I told the guys that, I’ve got to figure it out. Because I don’t think the guys are honest with each other. I just don’t think we have committed to being a good basketball team.”
It looked like the Celtics had turned things around on their six-game win streak, but now things are right back to where they were. They had a golden opportunity to climb in the playoff standings, but are back to .500 and the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference thanks to the current slide.
Doc has lashed out before to mixed results. But this latest threat is for far more than playing time, and if Rivers tells Danny Ainge it isn’t working, Ainge isn’t afraid to pull the trigger on any move.
Words are just words though, and it will be up to the players to respond. Doc can call his team out until he’s blue in the face, but if the effort still lags, it’s all for naught.
But the Celtics needed another verbal kick in the backside, for all to hear, and Doc delivered it. Now it’s up to them shape up or ship out.