Newark, N.J–Over and over the coach preaches defense. He tells his players to execute the coverages, give maximum effort, and stay after it even when (or especially when) things get hard. Most of his preparation time is spent on defense. Pretty much all of his talks are about stopping opponents.
And yet despite all of this, the coach says his team doesn’t do these things to his satisfaction.
Not, I’m not talking about L.D. This was Doc Rivers talking last night before his Celtics waylaid the Hawks. He was asked if things like defensive intensity and focus come from players and not coaches.
“It comes from both. As good as we are at times, last year we were up and down all year. I think that’s a sell every night. It’s just easier to play offense. Defense is hard, and defense is every possession. Defense is hunger and focus and being down on the weak side every single time. It’s amazing how many times we show film of guys standing straight up. It’s hard. Defense is hard. To do it every night is hard to do. As a coach and your whole staff, we harp on it every single day. We could have an 80-point game [allowed] and I could show you 10 times in a game we got lucky and they missed a shot and we were not right. [Defense] comes from all five doing it all the time, where on offense you can have one guy make a shot and it works out for you. Defense, it is just hard.”
While he was saying that I’m thinking: If Doc Rivers has to constantly prod proud, veteran, tough-minded players to get them to do these things, then what chance does L.D. have of getting his younger, volatile, fragile players to play that way?
Mo had the telling quote after last night’s debacle: “The Celtics know who they are. We don’t have an identity, unless it’s when things go bad we go the other way. Maybe that’s out identity and we don’t know it.”
Maybe that’s how it is. Maybe it takes certain kind of players to play the way the Celtics play, and maybe the Hawks don’t have any (or enough) of those players. L.D. says he “very rarely talks about offense” and harps on defense but maybe there’s nothing he can do to make this group of players buy in to that.
“You can look at certain teams with certain players and you can see when the game hits a certain point where players they seem to take over, see certain teams when the game hits a certain point they tighten the screws up,” Drew said before the Boston game. “You can certainly see that. I don’t think we are there yet. I think we have to keep working on it. I do think we can get there. We have the personnel to get there. But we are not quite there.”
The day after
The Hawks players talked after the Celtics game. L.D. said the team met for breakfast this morning and watched video.
“Didn’t want to dwell on it, just wanted to make some points on it and then get ready for New Jersey,” he said.
So I asked Al if he their minds are right.
“We’ll see,” he said. “I’d rather hold all of my thoughts until once we get out here and play. We cant talk about certain stuff but we have to go out there and do it on the floor.”
Smoove took a similar stance on all the talking.
“If that [stuff] penetrates, then we should be good,” he said. “If it gets shrugged off, then maybe not. We are about to see.”
L.D. elaborated on his postgame comments last night, in which he seemed to intimate the Hawks are doing too much partying before games.
“I didn’t say party,” he said. “We are not starting the game with a lot of energy. I don’t know if I am practicing them too hard. I don’t know if I am not practicing them hard enough. I don’t know if they are out at night. I don’t know what it is. It is something that is zapping our energy at the very beginning of our ballgame. It is something I have got to figure out what is going on with our team because we are too athletic to start at such a low energy level. Hopefully we will bounce back tonight.”
No rest for J.J.
One of the items the !$%^# blog monster ate last night concerned J.J.’s sore left hand. He got hit on the top of the hand during the preseason and still grimaces and favors it at times.
Good luck trying to get him to reveal how much it’s really bothering him.
“I’ve just got to deal with it,” Joe said. “The only thing that can keep it from hurting is resting but we don’t have time for that. I have to play through it. It’s nothing major.”
The fact that J.J. is wearing that bulky glove on the hand suggests it’s a problem. He said he would continue to wear it (”Got no choice) and that it doesn’t bother his shooting. The hand is not as sore after games when he wears the glove.
L.D. thinks the hand is bothering Joe more than he’s letting on. Would he consider taking the decision from Joe and giving him an extended rest?
“I will consider it, but a high probability of giving him time off? No,” Drew said. “We will probably just try to rest him days that we are not playing, especially when we have a couple days in between. Let him get it treated and keep him out. With those type injuries they always start to feel good and then you get it banged again and it becomes a lingering thing through the season.”
No T-Will for Nets
Nets swingman Terrence Williams (Go Cards) is out for two games due to disciplinary reasons. Dang, T-Will, get it together and rep The Ville right.