Just came from the post-game briefings of both Doc Rivers and Paul Pierce, and it should surprise you to know that neither was especially thrilled with the team’s 86-79 loss to Orlando, particularly in the first half.
"One thing that’s the mainstay of this team is the defense, and that wasn’t there," Pierce said.
Said Rivers, "We’re picking and choosing right now a little bit in terms of our focus."
Which is to say nothing of the injuries.
A few notes:
* Rivers actually questioned himself for starting Stephon Marbury at point guard over Eddie House, saying that his instinct was to start House (despite a lesser ability to handle the ball) because House had better command of the Boston offense. He ultimately chose Marbury because the Celtics need to get Marbury involved and opportunities of the like may be hard to come by.
Rivers described the situation as a little bit of "a Catch-22," but it should speak volumes that House was on the floor (and Marbury was not) when the Celtics made their most spirited run in the fourth quarter. At that time, Rivers went largely with a lineup of House, Ray Allen, Pierce, Miki Moore and Leon Powe.
Marbury played just 5:49 in the second half and 20:30 overall. He had four points, no assists and three turnovers. House played 30:21 and finished with five points, five rebounds, two assists and one turnover.
"It’s going to take time," Rivers said of Marbury’s performance. "The only way he’s going to get right is by playing."
* The Celtics actually outscored the Magic in the second half, 46-35, and held Orlando to 30.6 percent shooting in the second half. Rivers said he was "proud" that the Celtics made a game of it despite early indications that the C’s would merely implode in the absence of Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Brain Scalabrine, Tony Allen and, ultimately, Glen Davis, the last of whom sprained his right ankle during the game and did not return.
* After playing so well on Friday against Cleveland, Pierce had a wretched outing. He shot just 5 of 15 from the floor and 6 of 10 from the line while committing six turnovers.
Without Allen (32 points on 12 of 25 from the field and 7 of 7 from the line to go along with nine rebounds) the Celtics might very well have lost this game by 30.
* Both Pierce and Rivers acknowledged that it could be some time before the Celtics can put their best team on the floor again. The Celtics have 18 games left and trail the Cavs again by two in the loss column for the best record in the conference.