After landing in Indianapolis and arriving at Conseco Fieldhouse yesterday, the Celtics held off on hitting the practice floor in order to watch film. The session was more or less a medley of all the open shots the Celtics missed in their Christmas Day loss to the Magic. But the issue wasn’t offense.
“We didn’t show the open shots to show them the open shots,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “We showed them the effect.”
The Celtics missed 15 of their 21 fourth-quarter shots, and their attitude dived with each one.
“You’re not thinking about defense,” Rivers said. “You’re thinking about you last offensive possession.”
While the Celtics hung their heads, the Magic knocked down 9 of their 14 shots, nailed four 3-pointers, and went 7 of 10 from the line, hanging 29 points on the Celtics and snapping their 14-game winning streak. In a game where Kevin Garnett was the only Celtic to make more than half his shots, offense clearly affected defense.
“We told them you have to be willing to miss 15 open shots in a row and still have the same defensive intensity,” Rivers said.
Even as the Celtics strung together all those wins, their defense had gone through spotty stretches. Against Philadelphia last week, they let the Sixers run up 27 points in the second quarter, feeding off the Celtics’ poor shooting. Boston missed 15 of 22 shots, the Sixers went 7 of 12 from the floor and 12 of 15 from the line and went up, 44-38, at the half.
“Even the guys would agree now, watching the tape yesterday, that our offense, or lack of, led to our bad defense,” Rivers said. “ Not that we took bad shots. We showed them how many open shots they had in the fourth quarter, and it was alarming how many wide open shots [we had] but we didn’t make it. But the disappointment of missed shots over and over again led to us letting up on defense because they were still thinking about the offensive end, and that’s something you can’t do.”