Celtics Need Time To Establish Identity

MIAMI — If they learned nothing from the first 48 minutes of their season, the Boston Celtics know they’re going to need a little more time to become the team that intends to challenge the Miami Heat for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

The crew that showed up here last night at AmericanAirlines Arena, however, barely resembled the Celtics team that scrapped with the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals last season.

Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo showed up. But something was clearly missing, at least until the final seconds when Rondo earned a Flagrant foul for a “clothesline” (if that’s what you’d call it) of Dwyane Wade. That was as close to the physical pounding we’re used to seeing these Celtics put on their opponents, win or lose.

Then again, these aren’t exactly the same Celtics we’re all used to. Garnett, Pierce and Rondo are just three of the five holdovers from last season’s team. The rest of that new-look locker room was getting its first real taste of the rivalry that will continue to set the pace in the East. And it showed.

Tuesday night’s 120-107 loss was a role reversal for the Celtics, one that Doc Rivers didn’t necessarily see coming.

“I thought they were the aggressor the whole game,” he said. “They got on the floor where they wanted to get, they took us out of the stuff they wanted to, you can see they played together longer than us and their continuity was good. We made plays on offense, but it wasn’t good offense. I didn’t think we had good continuity at all and that hurt us down on the other end.”

All of the advantages the Celtics had enjoyed for years against the Heat (and other members of the league’s elite) were turned against them, and that includes being the physical aggressor from start to finish and having the always-dangerous Ray Allen attacking from all angles.

That said, there was (and is) clearly a level of trust missing among these Celtics. You don’t revamp your locker room the way the Celtics did and not need a little time to adjust. Veterans Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Jason Terry and rookie Jared Sullinger will all need time to adjust to the Celtics’ style — in particular playing off of Rondo, who controls the action in ways that defy typical point guard play.

And the inability to slow down the Heat is something that certainly didn’t sit well with Pierce, who was brutally honest in his assessment of his team’s performance.

“We had defensive struggles. That’s not who we are,” he said. “We’re not going to be a team that gives up 120 points. We have to establish our identity and who we are going to be. We’re going to be a defensive team, we’re going to stop teams from scoring and we’re going to keep them out of transition. We have to be the enforcer out there, and [Tuesday night] we were pretty much on our heels.”

But even Pierce realizes that with all of the change it’s going to take time to become the team he spoke of, more time than the Celtics might imagined, but time that is no doubt needed.

“We got a lot of new guys that are trying to understand the philosophy defensively,” he said. “We had a lot of breakdowns. Our defensive is all about communicating and talking. We’ll get it together. [Tuesday night] was a good measuring stick for us. We played against a team that is the best team in the NBA … we’ve got a lot of work to do.”


  1. Lcdc says:

    The reason Barbosa got off was because KING JAMES was out of the game end of story!

  2. ThunderBoyGames says:

    the whole things was the celtics lost Allen and that loses 23% of that offense so if you face the heat you use Allen’s weaknesses to frustrate him and now that Avery is back you need to start taking 13 foot jumpers,fadeaways,and if your KG post up and go high or low and rondo take more shots!!!! your PG but you got to score and celtics team drive down the lane and box out the opponents transitions and that’s all I have to say

  3. bu says:

    most guys here saw the reality that it’s 1 game into the season, where Celts have a virtualy new team!!! Doc was giving a lot of time to most new guys on a certain rotation to work things out & getting used to each other. clearly the defense & tight pressure were not there as they made many glaring mistakes on switches & gambles, & many turnovers as guys are unfamiliar with their spots!!! besides, why would I throw everything in to win just the 1st regular season game & injure someone & screwed in the playoffs, esp for key guys like KG, PP, Rondo.

    notice that this Celtics team differs from the last 3 years in offense. the firepower is much much higher as they hv guys who can create offense either on 1-2 dribble & shoot or going to the rim. you also see the ability to score in the paint & rebounding improved.

    if the defensive sets & schemes are well done by mid season, this Celtics team will be right there.

    again, homecourt is important but not life & death, esp if Celts can crank up their defense.

    time will tell.

  4. Bill says:

    what the problem was that Rondo was trying to do too much he was missing open players and taking bad shots and making horrible decisions along the stretch. The turnovers hurt them as well

  5. HeatKingsofEast says:

    the truth is, celtics got lucky in this game having lebron out most of the 4th qtr and barbosa who as i remember made 6 out of 6 fg% 2’s and 3’s in the 4th qtr that make it 16pts. the celtics should’ve been down by 20+ if not for barbosa

  6. Omar Perez says:

    i think everybody should take a chill pill. it was the first game of the season yes the heat won and got good bench players like my boy ray allen but thats nothing this is my theory KG, Rondo, and JT did not play well becuz of one reason ray, allen. KG feels that out of the money offered by other teams why miami. to me thats looks bad becuz it looks like he went there for a ring. Rondo has his reason, maybe upset about ray. and jason terry he was to focused on how to be better than allen. once they get over that mentality we will have the big ticket(KG) last years triple double leader (rondo) and one of the top four 3 point shooter of all time (J.Terry). so heat fans dont celebrate just yet (dont take it as an insult and more of an advice). Never forget when boston’s big three got together in 2007-08 that year they won the championship. the heat tried doing that but they couldn’t, to them it was impossible which is understandable they weren’t and are not that nice. so i want to congratulate the heat for last years championship they played good enough for BOS and OKC. besides i couldn’t bare to see lebron not win a championship the thoughts made me want to cry. well miami heat 2 down 15 more to be the best. GO CELTICS !!!!!!!!!!

    • robin says:

      Boston Celtics,…Beat the Heatttttttt, beat iiiit. Celtics hate the heat

    • Average Joe says:

      I’d say 16 more because you already have 17. Possible, but not very probable, that the Heat franchise can match that what with the Lakers trying to take all the All-Stars in the NBA. As a LeBron fan, and bandwagon Heat fan, to a Celtics fan, all I can say is “Let’s beat LA!”

  7. GMAC says:

    either way you look at it. we won’t see many losses for the heat this season.. at all

  8. WHAt says:

    That dude winking at rondo after the play, was that his boyfriend?

  9. Royt says:

    It should have been great to see if DWADE did not stop himself on throwing that ball on the head of RONDO. But, I think retaliation and vengeance are your worst nightmare. Go Heat!

  10. Ricardo says:

    Soy fan de los Celtics, pero lamentablemente debo aceptar que sin mayores cambios en la plantilla este año acabará como el anterior: Cerca pero no campeones.
    Ya es tiempo que Ainge haga cambios relevantes…

  11. BP says:

    C’s are tough team to play with but NOT tough enough to get all the way to Championship….

  12. sweetdayo says:

    Its funny how people call Rondo immature for his move on Wade and how Wade said it was a punk move. However if you look at Wade’s track record he is ten times worse than Rondo has ever been; pot meet kettle

  13. lol says:

    the season just started calm down but they gotta play better agasint the heat
    and john youre the loser here every title the heat won was thanks to stern maybe stern should have a heat jersey too

  14. The Bucks had no NBA rival dude

  15. Cody says:

    Bottom line is it was the first game of the season guys. Both teams will be better come the playoffs. Of course Boston will need some time to mesh with all their new players but even so they still wont be better than the Heat. If Boston were playing last years roster then they would of had a chance but Miami’s bench improved dramatically with the additions of Allen and Lewis who also played well last night. Now like I said you can’t really judge either team based solely of last night but I thought Boston played ok but the fact that Miami won by 13 without Lebron playing the 4th quarter is still impressive. And for the first time in a long time Spoelstra sent out a lineup without James or Wade and they played great and outscored Boston. This team as a whole is just scary and has unlimited potential. If Rose comes back healthy then Chicago is always good but I don’t think they have the pieces to beat Boston or Miami in a 7 game series. I think Indiana will challenge the C’s for the right to challenge the Heat in the Eastern conference final’s.

  16. N.D says:

    How can you say that how long did it take for Miami to establish there identity

  17. ajnoyz says:

    In every game, there’s always a reason why a team wins or loses. There’s no guarantee that each night of play, a team will win. I won’t buy any excuses for having a team loses a game and give them their due. Each game, win or lose, serves as a learning process.

  18. thejerr says:

    barbosa showed he wants some of terrys playing time imo, and i saw jeff green look lost way to much for being in his second year with the team (having played or not). Either way i think they looked ok for having their first game be against the heat.

  19. Matthew welsh says:

    Barbosa is the key, he can be the new Ray Allen, only younger and faster! He will thrive off Rondo. He didn’t play one preseason game because he was signed too late. I can see him starting at the two very soon. Look at his points per 48 the last few years, not a great stat, but it proves if he gets some minutes he can put up some points. Leandro could very well end up being their leading scorer this year!

  20. Banks says:

    You can’t beat Miami with Lebron out for most of the 4th quarter, and you pulled within 4, you are sorry

  21. Christian says:

    To “SA” WAY UP THERE^^^ KG isnt a traitor to the TimberWolves…. He got traded…. dont talk about NBA if you dont know anything about it

    • Average Joe says:

      Yeah, and it was Kevin McHale (the Wolves’ GM or coach that time, I forget which) who facilitated the trade with former teammate Danny Ainge. And you don’t call McHale a traitor to Minnesota. You get your info straight first before you badmouth others.

  22. THA BEAN says:

    hopefully lebron is injured hahaha

    • Average Joe says:

      Yeah, that’s right. Because the only way the Celtics are getting by Miami this year is if LeBron AND Wade are injured.

  23. Bazen says:

    So when the big three got together…how did they start off, they didnt gel till the end of the season…Still didnt win that year, it took them more than a year,,,cmon son

  24. Cristian says:

    Last night scene on court was a debut of a team that needs time to develop themselves. The Big 3 has new players, such as Lee, Terry and Green who will come up on top of their skills in a couple weeks ahead. But Celtics only scape from a bigger trail then 13 points, because of Leandro Barbosa (the sixth man of the year in 06-07 season). Scoring 16 points in a quarter, mainly the last one, is something to expect from him to support our C team this year.

  25. TTKIN says:

    Shouldnt Midol take care of Lebron’s cramps?

  26. Kris says:

    Wait for Avery Bradley. The Celtics D will be LEGENDARY

    • Average Joe says:

      Funny how you cite some sophomore’s defense contributing to legendary defense. If a 3-time DPOY’s (Dwight Howard) team didnt have “legendary” defense status, as you put it, how will Bradley make the Cs defense a legend? Get over yourself, fanboy.

  27. mike says:

    C’s will be ok, give em some time

  28. keithmon says:

    A good litmus test for the Celts. Let’s hope Jared, Darko, and Wilcox slowly mix in as the season progresses and Avery comes back as strong as he showed last year.

  29. flitcherz03 says:

    if lebron have no cramps in this game it would be lead to 20points in the final score and pound the celtics under …and much critics for the boston… but i can see improvement for boston they will be a tough defender in the east playoffs but the heat will be the last team standing until finals……Lets go heat!!!03

  30. Tore says:

    Heat fans forget that Boston Celtics have changed their lineup. New players and abilities. Adaptation to eachothers style and tactics will come in time. And the funny part is that Celtics played bad and lost by 13 points. Celtics team is at maybe 60% as a whole in terms of function.

    SO lets recap:
    Boston Celtics – new lineup, new players, played bad.
    Miami Heat – Same lineup(+), played good, won by 13 points.

    Boston Celtics are rebooting, adapting and shaping their team into a force of power. Just wait and see. Boston Celtics will put Heat in place. IN the end I think its gonna be Celtics vs Miami, or the way it is supposed to be: Cetlics vs Lakers.

    And not to forget that Princess Wade is a hypocrite and a douce. Remember what he did to Rondo back in 2011?

    • WizardsFan says:

      LOL. Yeah, yeah… Rondo deserves the “fair play” award. C’mon! He’s one of the dirtiest player the league has ever seen.
      Finally Cs are 3rd or 4th in the line… Bulls are the real Heat contenders.

      • celtic533 says:

        Rondo takes a pounding every game and he always takes 2 time more when he is playing against the heat with their rigged refs and wade hacking away.But when prima donna wade is on offense the slightest suggestion of contact get him to the line for an and 1 or something.I dont blame rondo.I’m not being biased here.Any random fan in the Nba will tell you that.

    • TTKIN says:

      I remember what he did to Rondo, I also remember him giving Kobe a broken nose and concussion in the frikin all star game, a game about having fun that doesnt even count. Wade is hypocritical woman. I’d like that Princess name you gave him…except that means he is royalty haha.

      • Game Time says:

        How is he a hypocrite you moron? Wade isn’t saying anything about it. While you’re talking about dirty players realize Kobe is on that list for most people. Last season he grab a guy (forgot who) in the crotch.

    • JStack23 says:

      You also forget that Lebron didn’t play pretty much the entire 4th quarter.

      • aaaaaa says:

        What’s new about that?

      • Bballfanatic32 says:

        @Tore….U must be an idiot or something,so it means nothing for Miami to win a game by 13 WITHOUT the reigning MVP…have you any idea what the game would of looked like if Lebron went off in that 2nd half MOST DEFINITLY A BLOWOUT.Stop your nonsense,Boston has work to do if they want to match up with Miami, Miami has matured and you saw in there cuts,plays and even defensively they look really good and that was without Lebron..so well stated @JStack23.Y’all need to realize things…it was just the first game but you clearly saw Miami this year is about business and I don’t see any team in the East really competing with them unless Boston wakes up.

    • ajnoyz says:

      It’s funny how you make excuses in behalf of the Celtics. In case you may have forgotten that Doc Rivers has always been adamant about facing the Heat and how he often feeds up the minds of his players with films of Miami Heat this and Miami Heat that until such time Jason Terry bites in how he hates the Heat and Darko Milicic willing to fight anyone on the Heat should the Celtics ask for it. It’s never about how dominant must the Heat had been since the Celtics were in the rebuilding process or they were having some new guys. The Celtics were capable of beating the Heat last night like any other team, rebuilding or not rebuilding or whatever you call it. It’s just the Heat had played better offense and defense than the Celtics that’s why they won regardless by how many points. There will come a night that the Heat will struggle against them or any other team. That’s the game of basketball. Forget these excuses and nonsense blah blahs. The Heat beat the Celtics last night. That’s the story now, so stick with it.

  31. SHINK213 says:

    the celtics aren’t even relevent anymore, i’m sure they will make a push in the playoffs like usual and beat up on some weaker teams, but allen left the celtics for a reason….because he didn’t feel that the they could compete with the heat anymore, and i don’t blame him. can’t wait for the heat to roll everyone this year again, all they did in the offseason was get 2 better shooters, one of which is good at defense as well.

    • aaaaaa says:

      Really cause the Celtics are debatablely the deepest team in the NBA (with the Spurs, Clips, and Nugs). They were also the second best defensive team in the league last year, and with the addition of Courtney Lee, that’s only getting better. You clearly forgot last year’s ECF. You know, where the Celtics took the Heat to 7 games with a down-right horrible bench? Well yeah, now look at their bench: Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, Leandro Barbosa, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, and Chris Wilcox. And the Heat? Oh they just added 2 shooters, and their main rival has the best perimeter defense in the league. You just wait til the playoffs when the Celtics destroy the Heat. Good day sir.

      • Average Joe says:

        What perimeter defense? They had poor perimeter defense last postseason when they had more defenders and Ray. They surely have an even more inferior one now. The only ones who can defend the perimeter on their roster are Bradley and Lee and one of them is currently injured. The Heat’s positionless defense will crush the Celtics in the playoffs, just like they did last night. If you think that the Heat are not gonna improve over the season, then you’re crazy.

  32. CCB says:

    Do not forget that the C’s started last season poorly as well, but it is not the season start or the season that matters. Just wait till the playoffs when the team will have found its chemistry. We will crush those Heat sissies in the Eastern Conference Finals! And do not even mention the Knicks or the Nets in the mix, the only real rival is Indiana and Miami this year. LET’S GO C’S!!

  33. dvv4reid says:

    Certainly the Celtics would expect to have some troubles w the last years league champs. The season is early; for ballers who play pickup ball you know what is like to encounter a team of players that plays together all the time. Whether on the court or walk ups they have an advantage of familiarity. We taunted the heat in their early days so it is now our turn. Talk to you in February when we (and Doc) know what we got. I thought the substitution pattern left something to be desired at times the floor was unbalanced on offense or defense. By unbalanced I mean guys on the floor I would not expect to see on the floor together later in the season. So it is a work in progress. You simply cannot make major changes without going through some adjustment time. We are there now, just in case you didn’t notice. In January if we are still having these problems I would be concerned. Not yet though, it is too early to digest the teams.

    • pakyaw says:

      TO ALL CELTICS FANS…..STOP THIS DENIAL..!..do you really think they can beat a healthy MIAMI team in 7 game series?…PLS…PFFT..

  34. Melvin says:

    Anger and childishness won’t earn Celts a championship ring,
    Move forward and Focus on game.

  35. juve17 says:

    celtics need to bounce back!!!!!!

  36. MSL says:


    Ray is the Big B. He left, cause he lost his starting job to Avery Bradley. That’s.

    Got nothing to do with Rondo.

    • JStack23 says:

      Stop bitching about it. He lit up the celtics for 19 points off the bench. At least Ray shows maturity dealing with on court confrontations. Rondo is immature and keeps showing it by the way he can’t control his frustration.

    • aaaaaa says:

      Actually, some offcourt arguements with Rondo contributed to him leaving.

  37. charles says:

    This is about Carl Lee, the Jet, Sullinger and Jeff Green. Those four hold the key to any Celtic Championship hope. We know Pierce, Rondo and Garnet are going to give everything they got. But the celtics need to make sure that Carl Lee is extremely comfortable taking shots and that Jeff Green is making this team his own. This will take time, Trust isn’t built immediately. Rondo, Garnet and PIerce need to make an extra effort to make Carl Lee and Jeff Green feel part of the offense. The Jet is less of a concern because he is a veteran who simply knows how to deliver.

  38. Kaz E says:

    C’s just had a breakdown night, Rondo is still the most effective player along with Lebron James in across the stat sheet. Dwayne Wade and the Heat are garbage. C’s will come out the East this year and Match up with Thunder in the championship.

    • Average Joe says:

      Keep dreaming, pal.

    • Amanda says:

      I’m right there with ya. Once the C’s get back to their defensive principles, they’ll be just fine.
      can’t wait to hang up another banner in the Garden.

      • MiamiHeat7more says:

        Hahaha, See you after 82 games in 35 years old legs to beat a Miami Heat team. No way, no how. The Celtics bench stink and they don’t even have a true spot up shooter. Miami Heat bench went from almost the worst last year to one of the best now. Norris Cole, Ray Allen, Rashad Lewis, Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem coming from the bench-(They can get more wins than the Bobcats) HAhaha. Be hopeful if the Celtics get out of the first round; well, if they dont face the Heat.
        Oooh almost forgot, Rajon Rondo is a great player, but comparing him to Lebron is rediculous. Doing silly fouls and geting flagrants is no playing aggressive, but just plain dumb. Can see the the article author is another LOOSER Heat hater.
        Heat 2013

  39. Game Time says:

    I just wasn’t the Celtics night. They got outplayed and it’s not a identity chrisis.

    Also Rondo is a little B. He’s still shows how immature he is, and I can see why Ray left.

    • EZap says:

      ray left because he’s a traitor. C’s looked great last night for being a completely rebuilt team. Nobody seems to mention how Barbosa lit it up and almost got the game back by himself in the 4th, nor do they mention that Terry was a complete no-show after talking smack on camera about how it was gonna be all about him and ray on the first night. It’s gonna take a good 20 games for the C’s to gel, it’s just part of the game. Preseason and training camp are only the beginning of a team’s chemistry building.

      • JStack23 says:

        I love how you use the word traitor. I live in Milwaukee, and as much as you want to call him a traitor, he spent more seasons in Milwaukee than he did with any other team. Stop being an idiot. He is not a traitor. He had his most dynamic years in Milwuakee, his best scoring years in Seattle, and his best team years in Boston. Get over yourself.

      • SA says:

        Oh so you must hate KG since he’s a traitor for leaving the Minnesota Timberwolves right???

      • mike says:

        He is a traitor not because he left Boston, its because of the team he chose to go too.

        Patriots – Jets
        Red Sox – Yankees
        Celtics – Heat/Lakers

      • Game Time says:

        At the end of the day it’s a business and he made the best decision for himself. Celtics showed no loyalty to him when they were going to trade him so why should he do the same? If you’re a Celtic fan get over it, and realize players don’t have to do exactly what you want.

      • Sam says:

        Its completely different he was traded from both Milwaukee and Seattle et deliberatly chose to sign in another city wich happens to be to only real competition boston has in the East. So yes he is a traitor he had more money in boston so the financial reason out of the door and he also had a non trade clause. He left cause we wasnt wanted as much anymore for such a smart player he really has a big ego. Its really hard to hate the guy but he sure is heal disapointed everybody in Beantown.

        Ps : KG was also traded to Boston and he is, eaven if you hate the guy you cant deny it, the most loyal player and the league right now and maybe in nba history.

      • Josh says:

        KG may be loyal, but he wanted to be traded by Minnesota after he heard talks of them already looking to trade him. You can’t blame Allen for feeling the same way after his name was mentioned in trade talks by Boston. You can’t expect someone to be loyal to you if you’re not loyal to them. I mean, they tried to rectify it with a no trade clause offer, but obviously the damage was done.

  40. CarlosKing says:

    a good start for the Heat…yeah!

  41. allaroundballer says:

    Allen could easily step up beacause he’s a spot shooter. Just like what Miami need

  42. john says:

    Sorry Cs team your performances last night is very poor..Frustrated,Anger to Heat team..hahha big loser Heat all day

  43. Christiaen says:

    Training camp, preseason games, and other practises, and you’re still looking for your identity as a team?
    That should’ve been clear from the start.
    Developping team chemistry however is something else….

    • aaaaaa says:

      I think article there’s an quote from Pierce and he says “…We’re a defensive team…” It also says that there are only 5 players from last year, and even though on paper they should be better, it’ll take sometime before the new guys get the hang of things