Whatever you do don’t in any way, shape, or form imply that the Boston Celtics are “soft”. Wednesday night after the Celtics got beat by their divisional rival Brooklyn Nets head coach Doc Rivers insinuated that his team’s play was soft. Doc never once called the players themselves soft; but instead implied that teams around the league would view them [Boston] as soft considering their recent play.
But like a bad game of Telephone by the time the story reached the player’s locker room the comment was stripped down to its core: Your coach thinks you’re soft.
The “S” word quickly got the attention of the Celtics and seemed to have awoken them from their early season slumber.
“I don’t know any man that likes to be called soft, maybe some women,” said Kevin Garnett. “But where I’m from, most men don’t like that.”
It was clear that even at the slightest notion of being perceived as dare I say it soft was enough to spark a fire in Boston. Garnett made that clear when asked again before Friday night’s game against the Portland Trailblazers if he agreed with Rivers’ comments calling him and his teammates soft. After a long, awkward pause KG admitted that he never thought a team he’d play for would ever be considered soft. Ever.
The sheer idea of being labeled soft was enough to get even the most intense player in league history in Garnett fired up. New comers such as Courtney Lee also took exception to the “S” word.
“Nobody wants to be called soft,” Lee said. “Me, individually, I took it personally because I felt that I’m far from being soft.”
Whether or not Rivers’ meant what he said when dropped the s-bomb Boston took it to heart and played like a team who was out to prove something Friday night against the Blazers.
Without Rajon Rondo who was out serving the first of his two game suspension. Lee started in his place and had by far his best game of the season with 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Jeff Green also had a breakout game scoring a team-high 19 points. The Celtic defense which had struggled against Brooklyn held Portland to 34.8 percent shooting.
Now it would premature to put a lot of stock into this one game especially since the Blazers have lost 4 games in a row (one most recently coming at the hands of the then-winless Washington Wizards). But nevertheless the “S” word was said and heard loud and clear by the Celtics. And if only for one night they proved to their coach and to the league that they’re anything but soft.
So for the time being Doc can take the “S” word and tuck it safely in his back pocket. But if somehow the Celtics fall back into playing lackadaisical and disinterested ball Rivers’ knows all he has to do is reach in his back pocket and pull the s-card.