The Celtics pulled away in the 3rd quarter and were up by 11 points with 4:25 to go, so Doc let the bench play a little longer. He was probably thinking the subs could handle it with the cushion that they had and it would be good to get the old guys some rest.
The lead had shrunk to 8 when Doc put Pierce and other starters back on the court. You know what happened next.
That didn't sit too well with Pierce.
Asked if the result would have been different if he'd checked back in sooner, Pierce said, "I wish I was a fortune teller. I don't think this would have been the outcome, though."
Asked if he was disappointed by Rivers' decision, he said, "No comment," but also said, "Maybe I should play a little more."
I only bring this up because it sticks out as being unusual in this locker room. You hardly ever hear about a guy publicly criticizing another individual on this team, never mind the Captain of the team calling out the coach. Especially when everyone knows that the Big 3 need to be preserved if possible and giving the bench some crunch time opportunities would be good for their development.
However, to be fair, Pierce back tracked a bit from his comment later.
Pierce later said, "It's not his job to explain that. The coaches make their decisions. But at the time we had a pretty good lead, so I could understand it."
Garnett went a step further.
I have to second that. The team had this game won and didn't execute down the stretch. Blame Doc for his rotations, blame the refs for bad calls, blame karma if you like. But the team just didn't get stops or hit shots during that 12 - 0 run. Plain and simple.
The Celtics couldn’t score. They couldn’t stop Irving from penetrating at will on the pick and roll, and when the rookie did miss, which wasn’t often, Varejao was there to clean up the mess. “Defensively, I thought we were solid throughout the game, but in that fourth quarter on the ball in pick and rolls we reverted where we didn’t take the ball out of Kyrie’s hands,” Allen said. “At least make him see more pressure and make him play under duress. He got to his spots and made the plays he needed to make for his team and I don’t think at any time we recognized that.”
I'm glad the players felt the pain of this loss. Maybe that will help them stay focused against teams like the Cavs in the coming weeks. Otherwise they might let teams like the Cavs pass them in the standings.
I'll get more into this later, but don't forget - the early part of this season is the easy part. We've got some epic road trips coming up in the 2nd half so it isn't going to get any easier from here on out.