With Preseason Behind Them, C’s Set Focus on Regaining Team Unity

CLEVELAND – The Boston Celtics have shown tremendous passion on the practice court this fall, according to coach Brad Stevens, but for unbeknownst reasons, the team’s tenacity has yet to carry over into any of its games.

Saturday night’s preseason finale against the Cleveland Cavaliers was the latest episode of frustration for the C’s, as their record dropped to 1-3 with a 113-102 loss at Quicken Loans Arena.

“I just want to play with spirit, passion and togetherness,” Stevens said following the game. “We just have to find that kind of joy in playing together. The last couple of nights, for whatever reason, have not looked like practice. They looked like we were just kind of waltzing through the motions. We’ve got to be better than that.”

The C’s have no more exhibition games on their schedule, so they’ll have to make all of their adjustments back in the practice gym. Boston will have 10 days to prepare until the regular season tips off, and the team will have its hands full during that span.

“We have a lot of work ahead. That’s just the reality of it,” Al Horford sternly stated before boarding the team bus out of The Q. “There’s no excuses. We have a lot of work to do.”

The first order of business will be a collective attitude check. Terry Rozier senses that the team, generally speaking, was overconfident entering the preseason. He hopes that the recent stretch of mediocre play will help bring everybody back down to Earth.

“I feel like we need to get our mind right. Take some time off,” said Rozier, who tied for a team-high 17 points against the Cavs. “But at the same time, we gotta get out there and just find our way.

“I feel like we arrived like we already won something,” the fourth-year point guard continued. “Teams know that people are talking about us every time you turn on the TV, so that’s going to motivate them to want to beat us no matter if it’s the second string, third string, no matter who it is. We’ve got to stay grounded and go back to playing Boston Celtics basketball and being who we are instead of thinking we’re above everybody.”

One thing that the C’s had against them entering preseason play was having a lack of time to prepare. They only had two days of training camp before their first game, while some teams had as many as 10 days from the start of training camp until their first contest.

Boston, however, will not let that be an excuse for how they played.

“It’s different,” Horford said of the schedule, “but one of the things that Coach always talks about is being able to deal with adversity. Things are just different sometimes, and that happens to be the schedule and we have to go through it.”

The one advantage of having a top-heavy schedule is that the C’s will now have a week and a half to bond behind closed doors and figure out all of their issues before Opening Night.

“This week has to be completely focused on team, completely focused on we, and that’s what we’re going to get to,” said Stevens. “There can’t be any more feeling out. There are no more games to feel out. So, we’ll see. We’ll see if we’re good enough 10 days from now, and then it will start.”