C's Discuss Bad Losses and Injury News

WALTHAM, Mass. – We’re more than halfway through the NBA season and the Boston Celtics have accumulated only 10 losses. In contrast, the C’s had already been defeated 13 times as of Jan. 24 of last season.

Doc Rivers and the C’s are happy to be sitting atop the Eastern Conference with only 10 defeats, but no one can deny the fact that a handful of those losses have come to underwhelming opponents.

“It’s been a terrific season so far, but in that terrific season we’ve had some bad losses too, and I tell our guys that,” Rivers said after Monday’s practice. “Some of the teams that have beaten us are under .500, and those are tough losses for a team that shouldn’t lose those games.”

Exactly half of the team’s 10 losses have come to sub-.500 opponents this season, and it’s not as if many those teams are making a push toward that .500 mark. In fact, Boston has lost to Cleveland (worst record in the league), Toronto (fifth-worst), Washington (sixth-worst) and Detroit (seventh-worst). All of those losses took place on the road, and three of them were in the second night of a back-to-back. Houston, which is 20-25 on the season, is the only sub-.500 team that has beaten the Celts in the Garden this season.

One of the oddest trends in those losses is that the Celtics have had the lead after the first quarter in three of those games. Saturday’s 15-point lead after the first quarter made it seem as if Boston was on its way to a second consecutive blowout win, but then the team became lackadaisical over the final three periods and squandered a road win.

Rivers attributes Boston’s poor play down the stretch against Washington to numerous factors, some of which have been typical in the team’s bad losses, and some of which were an anomaly.

“I saw us walking the ball. (We) just didn’t execute offensively,” said Rivers. “Having said that, we also missed wide open shot after wide open shot after wide open shot. Our problem with the shots are, even though they were wide open, they were all jump shots… even though they were great shots. I showed them, you couldn’t get better looks, but they’re all jumpers. At some point we have to think about points in the paint and we got away from our formula on how we win.”

The Celtics are at their best when the ball is flying around at the offensive end and the team runs its sets early in the shot clock. During most of these bad losses, none of that has taken place. You can be sure that Rivers will continue to point that out until tip off begins tomorrow night against Cleveland in the Garden.

Although the Cavaliers will come to Boston with the league’s worst record in the league, we’ve already learned this season that no win is automatic. Rivers said as much this afternoon when asked if his team might overlook the lowly Cavs.

“If we do then we’ll lose,” he said. “We’ve already done that four or five times this year, where I don’t know if we overlooked, I don’t think our team does that, I just think we come out and we assume wins, and sometimes they don’t happen.”

Injury Updates

Shaquille O’Neal is doubtful for tomorrow night’s game against the Cavs and his estimated return date is still up in the air. We’ve already learned this season that Boston will allow Shaq all of the time he needs to recover from these nick-knack injuries, and the assumption right now is that he’ll miss anywhere between one and five games.

“Probably will not play tomorrow, maybe on the West Coast trip,” said Rivers, alluding to Boston’s four-game trek out West following Tuesday’s home game. “But he may miss that trip. We don’t know yet.”

There was promising news regarding two other players whom the Celtics are eagerly awaiting to return to the lineup.

Kendrick Perkins continued to go through full-scale practice with no limitations and has not suffered any setbacks over the past week. Rivers continues to give the big man nothing but compliments.

“He looks great. He went through the entire practice because we needed him, so he went through the entire practice…” Rivers said of Perkins. “Perk went through live practice and he looks terrific.”

In other big news, Delonte West returned to the practice floor in a limited role today. He was cleared last week to begin working out without a brace, allowing him to catch passes and dribble with both hands. He is not yet able to participate in live practice with full contact, but he is clearly on the fast track back to the active roster. He was on the court for a good half hour after practice ended getting in extra shots with the coaching staff.