The Celtics are off to their worst start since the debacle that was the 2006-07 season. As a result, we've seen something from that season emerge that we haven't really seen in the Big 3 era. Moral victories.
"Boy I thought we did a lot of good things, again, and it’s frustrating,’’ Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "Our turnovers are killing us. We’re just trying to will the team, do too much. It’s not like anybody is trying to be selfish. The way you win is with execution.’’
"At the end of the day, none of us in here likes to lose,’’ he said. "That’s the frustrating part. From every win you can take some positives, and from losses you can take some positives. "I think I like where we’re headed. You know, it’s just little things that are really killing us. Turnovers, obviously, are killing us. We have to keep teams out of transition, control that a little better - I think we’ll be great. But you have to go out there and do it.’’
Of course, we all know that another word for "moral victory" is "loss." But there does seem to be some method to this line of propaganda.
Basketball is a game largely built on confidence. Shooting with confidence just tends to make the ball go in more often. I think it has something to do with visualizing success or some psychological stuff that I don't fully understand. Confident teams are aggressive teams and aggressive teams get to the ball more, get more calls, and get more breaks. That is just how it works.
From the day Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen walked in the door, this team has had swagger to spare. They didn't want to hear about moral victories or excuses or any such signs of weakness. Losses and losing streaks were explained away as "slumps" and "flipping off the switch."
Now this team doesn't seem to know where the switch is. They know full well the end is near for this group and that mentality has seeped into the locker room as one giant built in excuse. That negative undertone is threatening to derail this season completely.
So you can kind of see what the coach and captain are trying to do here. They are trying to stem the tide and inject a little bit of positive vibe into the locker room. You want to challenge your team to make no excuses, but with 5 straight losses and a dreadful 4-8 record, you can't afford to have the team give up. So they take what positives they can from this game (and games against the Knicks and Heat) and use that to motivate the team going forward.
It isn't ideal, but it is the best shot they've got right now. Mercifully the next 3 games are against teams that they should be able to get a few wins against. The Suns and Raptors have the same 4 wins as us and the Wizards have just one. If they can't win those games... well, I'd rather not think about that right now.
They just need to keep telling themselves: "We're good enough, we're smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like us."