Last week here at SRI we revisited the Kevin Garnett/Kris Humphries altercation. Celtics head coach Doc Rivers believed his team was too soft. Paul Pierce contends his coach was trying to motivate the team. Either way, Boston sits at 10-8 heading into Thursday night’s action looking to play more consistent basketball. There is a ton of season left and let’s just say Pierce isn’t worried just yet. Paul Pierce joined WEEI in Boston with Mut and Lou to discuss the Boston Celtics playing a completely different style of game without Rajon Rondo, the Celtics starting out slow this season, Jason Terry’s veteran leadership in the locker room, the Celtics playing motivated because Doc Rivers called the team soft and Rondo’s maturity following his two-game suspension.
Do you feel it’s a completely different game when Rajon Rondo isn’t in the game? Like it’s a different speed and pace?
“Oh it definitely is. You probably got the fastest point guard in the league in the end. When he is putting pressure on the defense and pushing the ball and putting the pressure on the fast break, it definitely creates opportunities for the rest of us and it really picks up our pace.”
You started off slow last year and made the Eastern Conference Finals. Do you feel that way this year?
“Well the key is not to get too frustrated. You gotta understand what the end of the goal is. Right now we are building and you gotta understand the building phase. You might have slip ups here and there. You gotta be able to build with it. You can’t get too frustrated. You can’t get down. You can’t let your confidence waiver. The key is the things you see in practice. The things we are seeing in games is potential, and you know and understand what we are capable of and put it all together. Sometimes it comes quicker than others, sometimes it doesn’t. But I think with this team, we definitely understand we have the potential. Record-wise it’s not where we want to be at this point, but we know that in the long run we are going to get better and better and the end result is the only thing that counts.”
What kind of effect has Jason Terry had in the locker room?
“Oh he brings great veteran leadership. He’s been in the league 14 years now. He’s won a championship. He understands everything about building, about winning. He’s been on a lot of winning teams and he’s just great in the locker room. You can tell he’s going to be a coach one day, just the way his presence is in the locker room and how he talks to guys and makes guys confident. His confidence never waivers.”
What did you think when Doc Rivers said you guys were playing like a soft team? Did you believe that as well?
“Yeah, I had to agree with him [Doc Rivers]. We were playing that way. But you know, sometimes coaches do what they gotta do — if that means calling a team soft or whatever — if it’s going to push guys’ buttons, which I think it really did. You heard the way Kevin Garnett responded to it and some of these other guys. Nobody likes to be called soft. Coaches are always trying to find ways to motivate their team and push their buttons and I definitely think he pushed a few of our buttons here to go out there and prove to him that this is a solid ball club. We’ve been built on grit and grind. We’re a defensive-minded team that likes to be physical and by no means do we want to be called soft.”
After Rajon Rondo served his two-game suspension were there discussions with him? Did you tell him he was too valuable to lose?
“I think it’s a combination of all that. He’s sticking up for a teammate. Yeah, I think he understands how valuable he is, but then you get into the game and the emotions go flying sometimes, and you know Rajon Rondo, he’s an emotional player. He does some things maybe he shouldn’t have done that maybe costed us a win, but I think in the long run he is going to understand how valuable he is to us and get it out the way now. We don’t need that happening in the playoffs.”