CLEVELAND—Approximately 36 hours of reflection did nothing to change the mind of Celtics coach Doc Rivers. He is demanding his team improve and play with more consistency or, yes, roster changes could be in store.
The Celtics did not practice Monday in Cleveland, only going through a film session at the team hotel. But Rivers addressed the media Tuesday morning for the first time since threatening trades after the Celtics’ 103-88 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night.
“I think we’re a better team than what we’re playing and I think we have to (play better),” Rivers said before the team’s shootaround at Quicken Loans Arena. “I think we have to improve our play and we do have to improve the way we play and if we don’t, then something’s not working, either something I’m doing or something. It needed to be said.”
Rivers said he wasn’t concerned about the players’ reaction.
“We need to play better and we don’t need to play better for one night,” he said. “It’s not football where you get a week to readjust and then you get to play well and then you get a whole other week. We need to be a better, consistent basketball team. I’ve told our guys this 100 times (the solution) is in the locker room but it’s not on the floor. We have to get it on the floor and we have to be a consistent team.”
The Celtics were 20-20 entering Tuesday night’s game with the Cleveland Cavaliers, which could be tabbed the most important contest of the season considering Rivers’ comments.
“I think that we’re a better team than our record but you are always what your record is and right now we are a .500 basketball team,” he said. “That’s what we are. But what I see and my beliefs are we should be a lot better.
“I don’t mind the challenge. I’m up for that and I hope our guys are up for being challenged. We haven’t been consistently on the right path. We’ve had stretches but even when we have a stretch, we won six in a row, after the third game I was saying ‘We’re not playing well again, we’re just winning games.’ And it caught up to us and now we’re back to the way we were playing.”
Rivers entered training camp telling reporters how much he liked the revamped roster. During the season, he commented that he liked the roster when they were consistent. When asked if he likes his team now, Rivers said: “It depends on the day. It really does. I like individuals but we’re not a team yet.”